49ers vs. Cardinals: Alex Smith's Near-Perfect Night Leads San Francisco to 6-2

Tyson Langland@TysonNFLNFC West Lead WriterOctober 30, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 29:  Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a few passes during pre-game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

After two back-to-back less-than-perfect games in Weeks 6 and 7, Alex Smith showed that the San Francisco 49ers' passing attack can be just as potent as their running game. Smith had a near-perfect night, completing 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Not to mention his quarterback rating was an astonishing 157.1.

For the first time all season it appeared as if No. 11 and wide receiver Michael Crabtree were on the same page. Crabtree had his most productive game of the season as he caught all five of his targets and found the end zone twice in the first half.

Even though he has had more yards receiving in two other games this season, he hadn't scored more than one touchdown in a game since Week 16 of the 2011 season. It's hard to believe that tonight's game was only his second career multi-touchdown game.

Smith also did an incredible job of spreading the ball around to a plethora of different wide receivers. Nine different wide receivers drew at least one target and caught at least one ball. Crabtree's five targets were a team high. Mario Manningham came in a close second with four targets and Delanie Walker surprised with three targets of his own.

However, fans are still probably wondering what happened to Vernon Davis. Through the first five games of the season Davis caught 20 passes, piled up 303 yards and scored four touchdowns. There's no question he picked up right where he had left off in 2011.

Fast forward three weeks later and one could argue that he has gone MIA. Over the last three games he has caught five balls for 71 yards, and he doesn't have a touchdown to his name since Week 4. So, I have to ask—where in the world is No. 85?

Have teams started taking him away in hopes of it throwing Smith off of his game, or is Davis just going through a slump like he did in Weeks 6, 7 and 8 of the 2011 season?  It's hard to tell without diving into the tape and breaking down every snap from Week 6 on.

Regardless, the 49ers are riding a passing attack that got back on track tonight and a running game that has been cranked up week after week. Tonight was no different—Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter kept things headed in the right direction even though it didn't come easy.

The 49ers' longest run of the night was 17 yards and neither running back found paydirt. You have to tip your hat to Arizona; they came into tonight's game and forced Smith to beat them. He hadn't shown the ability to do it against the Vikings or Giants, but fortunately for San Francisco he did it tonight.

Jim Harbaugh's club heads into the bye with a two-game winning streak and a full head of steam atop the NFC West. They are 6-2 with four home games left after the bye week. The standings in the West have been close all season long, but for the first time I feel like the 49ers are starting to pull away.


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