Q. Alex Smith came out of his career long duldrums to have the season of his life in 2011. Was he a one year wonder, or can he do it again in 2012?
A. Last season was not anomaly for Alex Smith. The reason why Smith exploded with a career season last year is because he finally had a competent head coach and offensive coordinator, who both have confidence and believe in his abilities. So far this season, Smith showed last season was not a one year wonder. Smith is in the same offensive system for the second year in a row and he will continue to grow and get better this season. What is helping him this season are the new additions brought in on offense during the offseason and the 49ers continue to have a solid running game. He is also not forcing passes which usually led to turnovers during his first six seasons in the NFL. Jim Harbaugh has done wonders for Smith’s development and most importantly he has taught the quarterback if nothing is there, just throw it away or take the sack.
Q. Talk about how Frank Gore has looked to this point. He seems to be running downhill, and strong, so far in 2012.
A. Frank Gore is the heart of the 49ers offense and he is looking strong in his ninth season in the NFL. He continues to show he can lead the 49ers power running game and has not shown any hints of slowing down. The 49ers brought in Brandon Jacobs and drafted LaMichael James to help Gore and Kendall Hunter in the running game. Even though Gore has played solid this season, he is not getting any younger and having multiple options at running back to spell him during a game will help with his longevity. Unfortunately, Jacobs and James have not played in a game this season due to injuries. Jacobs might play on Sunday. However, the running game is still going strong and will only get better when Jacobs and James return to the field.
Q. What are the 49ers expecting to see out of Tim Tebow and the Wildcat this Sunday?
A. The 49ers are certainly planning for Tim Tebow because the defense does not want to be caught off guard during the game if he comes on the field with the Wildcat offense. From what I have seen it does not look as if the Jets has used Tebow much on offense, but knowing Rex Ryan he is probably waiting for the right time to unleash him on offense. That could come Sunday and the 49ers defense will be prepared.
Q. Our two teams are built similarly, on a running attack and good defense. Are there any matchups, on either side of the ball, that concern you from a 49ers perspective?
A. The biggest concern for the 49ers is the matchup between nose tackle Ricky Jean Francois and center Nick Mangold. Usually, Isaac Sopoaga holds down the center of the line of scrimmage clogging up running lanes and gobbling up offensive line men allowing the outside pass rush to get to the QB. The concern with Jean Francois is he is making only this third career start against Mangold who is one of the best centers in the NFL. Jean Francois plays the nose tackle position well, but he does not have the abilities nor does he draw the same attention from the offensive line as Sopoaga.
Q. How about a prediction for Sunday?
A. 49ers 24 Jets 18
With the 49ers coming off a loss against the Vikings that brought the team back down to Earth, they know if they don’t bring it for all four quarters against the Jets, they will lose the game. The 49ers don’t want to have a two game losing streak with a loss against the Jets after starting the season 2-0. Turnovers will be key for the 49ers defense and they will force Mark Sanchez to throw the football while also stopping the Jets running game. If the 49ers are able to establish their running game early against the Jets 28th ranked rush defense, this will set up the passing game later in the game which will lead a 49ers victory. The 49ers will run-first, but they know they can exploit the secondary with Darrelle Revis out for the season.