Gore outran the Oakland defense on his way to 149 rushing yards
Give Gore the rock 25 times on the ground -it’s a recipe for success
It took five games. That is, five games to have a “plus” turnover differential. The end result because of it: a win. The 49ers have shot themselves in the foot more than any other team in the NFL. So with them, it’s not a matter of overall talent, or lack of skill positioned players; it’s about not beating themselves. Plain and simple, as they showed why Sunday, defeating Oakland 17-9, winning the much often emphasized turnover battle. One of the few things in the sports talk realm concerning the NFL that’s often over analyzed, but isn’t over hyped -the turnover battle. The 49ers proved that to be even truer against the reckless Raiders by canceling the giveaways.
Despite the win, the 49ers are still a work in progress, as demonstrated with their 11 penalties. I won’t sing their praises much, but I will say this: they executed better than the Raiders. Through five games, how the Raiders were playing today, that’s how the 49ers were playing. Missed opportunities, costly turnovers, sounds like the 0-5 49ers. But it was a different story in Candlestick; for the now, new & improved 1-5 49ers. Two red zone appearances down near the goal, Oakland had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. Sound like the 49ers? Well it was at the end of the 1st half, but that’s for another time. In any event, the Raiders offense was knocking on the door, but the Niners defense slammed it shut. The defense answered the call early on while the offense was struggling. Not having to deal with turnovers certainly helps.
While down 6-3 late in the 3rd quarter, it appeared the team would be heading into the 4th quarter trailing; however, Alex Smith thought otherwise. This time around, Smith was the one knocking on the Raiders door, as he converted three third down opportunities with his arm. The defense of Oakland could not deny Singletary’s boy from entering like they did in the 1st half. Som with the opportunity to make a big play staring him directly in the face, Alex cashed in; connecting with Michael Crabtree for a sensational 32-yard touchdown strike to end the 3rd quarter. This time the 49ers were the one’s executing. They were the team that took advantage of the opportunity. A sharp contrast from the first five games of the season.
Playing smart, featuring your best player 25 times on the ground, and putting three long drives together of at least 77 yards to get on the scoreboard; you can only wonder and begin to ask: “Who were these guys”? Were they a different team, they couldn’t be the 49ers? Were they just a fluke team, that just so happened to catch the Raiders at home for their first win. Or could it possibly be, the team we thought the 49ers were in the beginning of the season? The team that everyone, including myself, expected not only to the wrap up the NFC West and have it in the bag before Thanksgiving, but the team that had the potential, pieces, and parts to do some damage in the Playoffs.
The only damage they have done thus far up until Sunday, was to themselves. And finally, five games into the season, the 49ers for the first time, did more damage to the opposing team than they did themselves. Even when a 16-yard Anthony Dixon touchdown run was called back due to holding by tackle Joe Staley, Alex Smith responded on the ensuing play with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. If the 49ers could show a bit of resiliency and poise like they did today, maybe Jed York may be right. Who knows, he could turn out to be the genius, rather than the fool everyone has proclaimed him to be following his bold claim of his team winning the NFC West division.
One step in the right direction for this 49ers club, yet, still a long way to go to in backing up their owner. However, on the other hand, there’s still a long way to go, which means; plenty of football remains for the NFC preseason favorite to prove the prognosticators correct. The first win’s always the toughest one. One down, about seven or eight to go. Next week: the winless Panthers in Carolina. I was really hoping for a clash of winless teams. Thank you for playing how you knew you should, and like we knew you could 49ers.