49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

November 6, 2011
Longest pass play of the game ... is to a fullback

LANDOVER, MD. - Watching from home, it probably looked like a bang-bang sequence. One play after the 49ers recovered a fumble in the second quarter, Alex Smith threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to fullback Bruce Miller, and the 49ers were up 13-0.


For Miller, a rookie who's been playing defensive end the last four years, the events seemed to play out in slow motion. "It felt like the ball was in the air forever," Miller said.

The 49ers had run the ball well until that point, and the Redskins defense reacted to Smith's play fake. But both Miller and Smith credited receiver Ted Ginn, who ran underneath Miller, for making the play work.

"He ran an excellent route and actually picked the linebacker," Miller said. "At that point in the route, I knew the ball was probably going to come my way. So I got my head around, and Alex put it right on me." Said Smith: "Protection was great and my part was easy. Ted is kind of the unsung hero."

The fact that it was the longest play of the game for either team speaks to Miller's athletic ability. Miller beat Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh on the reception, which was his sixth on the season and his first since Oct. 2. It also was his first NFL touchdown. The 49ers began converting Miller to fullback in early August - he missed the first part of training camp with a shoulder injury - and he's been the team's only fullback since Moran Norris broke his fibula Sept. 18.

Miller said it was his first offensive touchdown since high school. He scored two touchdowns off of interceptions last year for Central Florida. "They threw it right at me," he said. "The right place at the right time."

Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, whose father, Perry, played defensive tackle on two Redskins Super Bowl teams in the 1980s, had the only sack of the day for the 49ers, his fifth of the season.

Perry Brooks passed away last year at age 55, and his death has inspired a turnaround for son Ahmad, who is starting for the first time since being acquired by the 49ers in 2008. Brooks, who grew up in nearby Woodbridge, Va., said he bought 30 tickets for the game, including for his mother and his older brother, Perry, Jr.

"I think about my dad every day," Ahmad Brooks said after the game. "There's not a day that I don't." Before the game, Brooks met with Tony McGee, another former Redskin defender who was Perry Brooks' best friend on the team. The two remained close after they retired. His message to Brooks: "Do it for the big guy."

Odds & Ends

* With 12:50 remaining in the second quarter, Washington running back Roy Helu had 40 rushing yards and appeared to have a good shot at breaking the 49ers' streak of holding opposing rushers under 100 yards.

Helu finished with 41 rushing yards, meaning that the 49ers streak is now at 30 games. The last running back to go over the 100-yard rushing mark was Green Bay's Ryan Grant in November 2009. Helu led all receivers with 14 catches for 105 yards.

* Washington D.C. native Vernon Davis bought about 90 tickets for today's game, according to teammates. He was part of the 49ers' so-called "hands team" during a Redskins' on-side kick attempts late in the game. It was Davis who gathered in the kick to seal the 49ers' victory.

* Running back Kendall Hunter suffered a dislocated finger but returned to the game. Frank Gore did not leave the game but obviously was feeling the effects of an ankle sprain after the game. He asked to be helped down from the podium -- about a foot and a half high -- after speaking to the media. He did not walk with a limp but certainly was walking gingerly.

* The 49ers won their first four road games for the first time since 1992.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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