With the 49ers facing third and nine from the Baltimore 36 on their potentially game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, I turned to my colleague, Paul Gutierrez, and said: "I see a draw coming on this play." Lo and behold - the 49ers ran a draw to Frank Gore that picked up two yards. Am I clairvoyant? Well, ever since I fell out of that tree I have been able to predict rain. But more to the point, the 49ers are predictable. And cautious. And boring. Mike Nolan said later he was hoping that play would give the 49ers five or six yards. That still would have left Nedney with a 48 or 49-yard field goal, hardly a gimme, even for Nedney. Facing virtually the same situation tonight, the Bears went play-action, threw a touchdown pass to the tight end and ended up beating previously unbeaten archrival Green Bay in the final minutes.
After the game, Trent Dilfer said the 49ers spent a lot of time looking at last week's Cleveland-Baltimore game, which the Browns won 27-13. Dilfer said the Browns were particularly effective at running the ball on obvious passing downs, which is why the 49ers did the same.
"Teams that have had success against them run when (the Ravens) think they're passing and pass when they think they're running," Dilfer said.
The Browns, in fact, attempted just 18 passes against the Ravens. The 49ers attempted 19. The difference? The Browns have a receiver, Braylon Edwards, who caught three of those passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers' top receiver was Arnaz Battle, who had three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. The Browns also hit tight end Kellen Winslow four times for 96 yards. The 49ers did not even attempt a pass to their lone tight end, Delanie Walker. Injured Vernon Davis is set to return in two weeks.
I spoke with Alex Smith after the game. I wrote about what he said for tomorrow's paper and I don't want to scoop myself. However, the gist is that he's more encouraged than ever he'll be able to return for the Giants game in two weeks. The question is whether the 49ers will let him. Dilfer was sacked three more times this afternoon and took a few big wallops after throwing the ball. It should also be noted that for all their heroic efforts, the 49ers defense didn't sack Steve McNair, who has all the mobility of a lamppost, once all day. After suffering a couple of injuries, the Ravens at one point had three rookies on the offensive line, including one, Jared Gaither, who was picked up in the supplemental draft.
-- Matt Barrows