The San Francisco 49ers were able to win their first game of the 2010 NFL season as they beat the Oakland Raiders 17-9 in the Battle of the Bay during their Week 6 matchup.
Their 0-5 start had quickly became a major concern, but they showed some glimpses of promise yesterday that should give the franchise the confidence they need in order to turn their season around.
That said, I've observed various key team elements that have contributed to their strong performance and here are my thoughts on the top five reasons the 49ers beat the Raiders.
The 49ers strength on offense is running the ball, which is why we've constantly heard head coach Mike Singletary preach that he envisions the unit becoming a physical, run-first group.
Heading into this game, they ranked 30th in the NFL in terms of rushing yards. That being the case, I felt that an efficient ground game was a key to victory.
Apparently, the 49ers thought the same and they executed their gameplan to perfection as Frank Gore amassed 149 rushing yards on 25 carries.
Now that the NFL has quickly transitioned into a quarterback-driven league, its critical for defenses to be able to contain an opponents' aerial attack. Yesterday, the 49ers did exactly that and more.
Due to a strong performance from the secondary and a solid pass rush, they were able to limit Campbell to only 83 yards through the air and a pathetic 10.7 passer rating (no, that's not a typo).
If they can maintain this level of play, then it'll certainly help them turn around their season.
Call me crazy, but I don't think Alex Smith has gotten the credit he deserve. Or better said, I don't believe he's as bad as people portray him to be.
Sure, he's made several costly mistakes (league high 9 interceptions). However, Smith has also posted an 85+ passer rating for back-to-back weeks now and has led the team to the 15th most passing yards.
Yesterday, in particular, Smith showed that he can managed the offense effectively as he utilized his weapons and threw two touchdown passes.
It's widely considered that whomever wins the turnover battle, ultimately wins the game.
That principle was evidenced once again as the 49ers were able to force two interceptions which played a huge factor in their victory.
As I referenced to earlier, they were able to harass Campbell all day long and its clear in the stat sheet.
Therefore, the big plays on defense allowed their offense more time on the field and additional opportunities to capitalize on.
On the flip side, taking care of the ball and not allowing a single turnover is rather impressive and helps keep the team's morale high.
During preparation, I'm sure that the 49ers expected the Raiders to run the ball effectively just as they had all season long.
Of course, it was up to them to prevent that from happening.
Through active pursuit from their front seven, the 49ers were able to shut down the Raiders to a mere 3.7 yards per carry.
Even though Darren McFadden was ruled inactive with a hamstring injury, this was certainly an impressive performance.