Some of the numbers that came out of the San Francisco 49ers 2011 opener against the Seattle Seahawks suggested very little had changed. Total offense squeaked by the 200-yard mark. Third-down struggles (1-for-12) continued. Only one pass completion went longer than 20 yards.
But then, there are these other numbers: 33-17. The Niners won, and they did it in a way that leads one to assume that the coaching staff and the team are still trying to figure out what it can and cannot do. Of course, this is SOP—standard operating procedure—for NFL teams in their first game, especially one that has a new coaching staff and had limited offseason time together.
The game will be remembered for Ted Ginn’s two TD returns. But it is important to remember that the Niners had earned a lead and never gave it up. Ginn’s returns didn’t give, they secured the victory.
From that perspective, the play of Alex Smith at quarterback proved Jim Harbaugh’s faith in the seven-year vet out of Utah, and that’s why the 49ers have five reasons why they have strong chances to secure the NFC West title.