Looking back at last week’s less than stellar performance it looked like the San Francisco 49ers were heading into another week of embarrassment on a night when the greatest 49er of all time had his number retired.
The game started off according to plan, with the back-up center, David Baas, sending the pigskin up and over Alex Smith and into the end-zone, giving the Saints the safety. With the Saints up 2-0 you would have though the safety would be the match to the New Orleans fire on offense, but the game didn’t go according to script. Although the 49ers did lose 25-22, the 49ers showed that week one was exactly that, week one.
In week one against the Seahawks the 49ers offense was motionless. The 49ers offense which is supposed to rely heavily on the run game was unable to find any holes. With two rookies, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis, starting in their first regular season game, Frank Gore couldn’t break off on any of those big runs he did habitually last season. Alex Smith wasn’t given enough time in the pocket to find any of his receivers and all six 49ers points came from a pair of 23-yard field goals by Joe Nedney.
The 49ers defense was good upfront, keeping the Seahawks to 77 rushing yards, but the secondary was worse than I had expected. Allowing Matt Hasselback to complete 18 of his 23 passes and find two scores. And by the looks of things, his less talented brother might have had a similar game. I turned off the television last week hoping that the performance was some sort of fluke but found a different team in red and gold playing the defending champion New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
The differences between the play of San Francisco from week one to week two was night and day. The 49ers were able to move the ball with ease and it showed late in the fourth quarter.
If you were told that a quarterback in this game drove his team down the field in less than 45 seconds you would not have thought Smith, and maybe if you had the options of Smith’s you would have thought Troy Smith. But it was Alex Smith who brought the 49ers down the field to cut the 25-17 lead to two, and ultimately tie the game. The problem with scoring so quickly and turning a two minute drill into a 41 second drill is that you give one of the best quarterbacks in the league a chance. Drew Brees took advantage of the opportunity and put the Saints in field goal position, allowing for kicker Garret Hartley to finish the game with a field goal.
Smith found a fan in teammate, Josh Morgan, who caught 6 balls on Monday night.
“He came and commanded the whole huddle, he commanded respect in the huddle,” Morgan said. “He just played a great game. He came in with confidence and kept us going. He kept us upbeat. You couldn’t have asked anything more of him … That’s why they drafted him No. 1. ”
Alex Smith looked liked he belonged and if he can string a few good performances together he may fall back into good graces with San Francisco. The 49ers have one of the softer schedules in the league and if they can play like they did on Monday we may have something interesting brewing in the bay, and it’s not a big pot of sizzurp.
That string of games will have to start next week when the 49ers go to Kansas City to take on the 2-0 Chiefs.