by Ken Hurst, October 20, 2011
The SF 49er’s spirited and exciting football victory over the Detroit Lions last Sunday afternoon at Detroit by a 25 to 19 score was a very important win. The 49ers overcame 11 penalties against themselves in the first half alone. They were playing like the Oakland Raiders who are usually the most penalized team in the entire NFL.
Both the 49ers and the Lions are 5-1 in this season’s record. Both teams are rebounding from years in the wastelands with terrible losing records. Fortunately for both teams, losing records place them high for the NFL’s draft of college players. Now both teams have good player personnel combined with good coaching that should carry them into the post-season playoffs.
I think the Lions’ N. Suh is the best all-around defensive lineman to come into the NFL in many years, perhaps, since the great Reggie Smith, the all-time sack leader, who finished his career with the GB Packers. So, it was especially good to see Anthony Davis tussling with Suh during the 49er-Lion game.
Even though Alex Smith threw an accurate pass for the winning touchdown in the game, it was Smith’s poorest game of the year. On the first play of the game, Smith dropped back to pass and dropped his hand holding the football down to knee level where it was stripped for a heartbreaking turnover. Unfortunately, he doesn’t feel the approaching defender. The football sails too high for his receivers when Smith scrambles forward and throws a pass. Smith is reasonably accurate when he has time to set up in a classic QB stance and throw comfortably.
Former coach Mike Nolan, who drafted Smith #1 in the entire draft after interviewing both Smith and Aaron Rodgers, essentially said that he chose Smith because he was more athletic. It seemed clear that Nolan meant that Smith could outrun Rodgers.
Paradoxically, Rodgers runs much more often and much more effectively than Smith. It seems that Smith, who ran a veer offense in college, has made a point of refusing to run in the pros. Very often in 49er games when Smith is running the offense, one can see that if he faked a handoff to running back Frank Gore rushing into the line, but then pulled the ball back and looped around his left side, he could gain l5 years before stepping out of bounds. Or he would have the time to stop, set up properly, and throw long to a wide receiver. If Smith did this, it would open up the 49er offense immensely. For the Niners, Gore, Patrick Willis, and Justin Smith are all-pro players in 2011.
The bond between the 49er players and their coaches this season is a wonderful thing to behold. It is the camaraderie on the 49er team that makes them do their best on every play and never give up. It was the 12th man on their team who allowed them to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions over the last two Sundays.