After a dominating first half week 5 is now in the books as the 49ers hosted the Bucs today and dominated the entire contest winning 48-3 and advancing to 4-1. The 49ers continued to play great football in the 2nd half vs the Bucs. Behind a rejuvenated home crowd the 49ers came out roaring! A combination of aggressive offensive calling, Frank Gore redemption and 2 Interceptions by the defense, one that went for a pick 6 by Carlos Rogers but the 49ers up 24-3 at the half.
It was hard to imagine for anyone watching that the 49ers could be anymore dominating in the 2nd half but yet they were. The Bucs could do nothing on offense forcing 6 Tampa Bay punts while only needing the services of punter Andy Lee 1 time in the entire contest.
Alex Smith tied his career high with 3 TD passes all to his Tight Ends, 2 to star Vernon Davis and another to versatile backup Delaine Walker. Alex had another very good game going 11/19 for 170 yards and those 3 TDs, the most important thing Smith did was that he again didn’t throw and Interception. He was efficient, steady and put the ball where he needed to and didn’t try to do too much avoiding mistakes on the field.
Frank Gore came roaring back with another statement game rushing for 125 yards on 20 carries and a TD adding 18 yards receiving on 2 catches. The 49ers gave Gore a new 3 year deal making him a 49er for 4 years counting 2011 and going into week 4 at Philadelphia he was averaging just 2.7 yards per carry. Gore broke out vs. Philadelphia and kept up the momentum at home vs. Tampa Bay even as the 49ers utilized rookie RB Kendall Hunter in the running game. This is a huge sign for 49er fans as Gore has proven he has not lost a step and is gaining momentum as the season goes on.
Dashon Goldson came up big in the secondary for the 2nd consecutive game as he forced several incompletions with big hits jarring the ball loose. Goldson also forced a 3rd quarter fumble that led to a 49er score. Goldson was reportedly offered a 5 year deal in the neighborhood of $20 million but turned it down over estimating his market. He later returned to the 49ers on a 1 year $2 million deal, if he continues playing the way he’s playing the 49ers may want to consider putting that long term deal back on the table.
Kendall Hunter has brought a new dimension to the 49ers running game. Since taking about a quarter of the carries week 4 it hasn’t seemed to negatively affect Gore’s performance and Hunter has utilized a part of the run game that is not exactly Gore’s strength, the sweep. The 49ers have utilized Hunter between the tackles in power running plays a little this season but have mainly used him as a change of pace “scat” back and it seems to be keeping defenses on their heels. With Gore’s stellar blocking ability I’m wondering if Jim Harbaugh has some Gore/Hunter backfield packages up his sleeve for us.
49ers rookie DE/OLB Aldon Smith once again looked terrific today with another 2 sacks following up a 1.5 sack performance in Philadelphia. I continue to contend that no matter how good Parys Harlson is against the run Aldon Smith needs to be in the game 85-100% of the time for the 49ers. He provides a true pass rushing threat the 49ers haven’t had in years. He’s had decent playing time in 2 games this season and he has recorded 3.5 sacks and 6 tackles.
Fellow rookie QB Colin Kaepernick technically made his pro debut last week in Philadelphia with a 1 play handoff. This week with the 49ers ahead 38 points in the 4th quarter starter Alex Smith was given the rest of the day off as the team turned it over to Colin Kaeparnick. My assumptions were affirmed about Kaepernick today who coach Jim Harbaugh seemed to want to evaluate and gave him 3 pass attempts. I was impressed with Colins athleticism but his fundamentals need work. He threw 3 nice passes completing all his attempts and almost had his first career TD pass to Josh Morgan when Harbaugh went for it on 4th and 2. Under center he had some major opportunity as he juggled a couple snaps and had at least 2 or 3 awkward handoffs. Still I was encouraged as he definetly displayed the bullet of an arm he has not to mention his athleticism. Under coach Harbaugh the fundamentals will come in time, after all there is no rus the way Alex Smith is playing this year.
And finally maybe the most encouraging part of the game was the play of the offensive line. The line paved the way for the Frank Gore’s big day on the ground and team total of 213 yard rushing total. The line also went the entire game without giving up a sack, Alex played a large part in that as he was getting rid of the ball all day but the line did it’s part non the less.
Meanwhile the one negative is the injury to WR Joshua Morgan. The 49ers chose to go for it on 4th and 2 and Kaepernick threw a bullet to Morgan who turned it up field toward the end zone only to take on a big hit that resulted in him being carted off the field. This is bad news for the 49ers if Morgan is out for any time, especially extended time as they have been hit with the injury bug at WR this year. Michael Crabtree who seems healthy now has battled foot injuries and Braylon Edwards is out with a knee injury and isn’t expected back until after the bye week. If Morgan is in fact out long term look for the team to make a move for a WR on the market. Perhaps Donnie Avery whom the team worked out last month or Dominique Zeigler who was with the team the last 3 years and is still on the market. No matter Morgan’s situation do not look for the team to show any interest at all in Terrell Owens or Randy Moss.
*UPDATE* 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game that the injury to Morgan may not be as serious as it appeared. He offered no other insight. Check back with NinerNoise for more updates as info is learned on Morgan’s condition.
The 49ers may have the best Inside Line Backing tandem in the NFL. Patrick Willis is already the best individual ILB and Navarro Bowman is making his mark. The dynamic duo turned in another great game with Willis leading the defense with 10 tackles adding 2 assists and a pass defended. Bowman had another strong game with 5 tackles and 1 assist.
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