Jerry Rice is cool, we already know that.
They don’t remember how well you played, but if you won when you played.
What Did I Learn: So the 49ers fall to 0-2. Panic button? The defending champs clipped them, as they countered the team’s furious late comeback rally with one of their own, winning the game 25-22 in walk-off fashion. Champions know how to win, been there, done that. In what was the best game I’ve seen so far during this young season, I came away impressed with both teams. With that said, I’m only going to cover Singletary’s men; we know the Saints are the best team in football, as for the 49ers? Questions abound.
You couldn’t ask for a better game plan. Well-executed. The 49ers played the Saints as physical as any team could possibly have played them. Frank Gore was in full-effect. The offense had an identity, looking to their main man early and often. The run blocking was outstanding, especially on the Anthony Dixon touchdown run. Mike Iupati pulled to perfection, leading the way on that play, and on many plays throughout the night. You’ll be seeing his face in Hawaii for many years to come. As for the passing attack, Alex Smith looked relatively sharp despite a couple of picks. He completed more than two thirds of his passes, went downfield effectively to Vernon and Crabtree, and showed off his nimble scrambling capabilities. Overall, he displayed signs of growth. The offense did its part. They ran the ball at 5.5 yards per clip and threw it for close to 9 yards per pass. You have to be pleased.
Defensively, as much as I applaud the effort from San Francisco, I have to say I was a bit disappointed in their lack of aggressiveness at times. I believe they could have been physical with the Saints receivers. Too many easy completions. I know they wanted to prevent the big play, and did, but if they meet again in the Playoffs you have to blitz Brees somewhat more and play their wideouts bump and run more often. Nonetheless, I think you saw a good blueprint on how to beat the Saints, that is, minus the turnovers. 4 turnovers? Not going to win games, with a -4 turnover differential. So lets give the defense credit, they withstood that on top of one of the league’s most potent offenses. It was a contain game, they limited the Saints to just barely over 2 yards per rush, and only a bit more than 6 yards per pass. They proved their legitimacy.
What I take away from this game is the 49ers are still among the best in the NFL. They can play with the elite, they showed that Monday night. They have all the parts needed to put together a run in the Playoffs. Despite the slow start, I still have them as a 10-11 win team. If anything, the two games thus far will make this 49ers team a better team. First game, the blowout, that was needed. It will help in the long run. Second game, you have to come away with a moral victory considering how you played the champs. However, in the short term you have to figure out how to right the ship at 0-2. And even if these games do no harm, no foul and end up benefiting the club, the bottom line is you still have to win. At the end of the day, this is a win now business whether you’re rebuilding or reloading, either way, no matter what the case. So, right now as a 49ers fan you have to be thrilled to see how your team play, yet there’s still the bottom line -you wasted a golden opportunity. As we move further down the season, let’s see if the 49ers can take advantage of future opportunities, because this team has an opportunity to be golden.
Coach Singletary: “The things that we did to ourselves that were self-inflicted cost us the game.”
Gore: “It wasn’t like another team was out there beating us,” “we were beating ourselves.”