49ers Blog and Q&A

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

October 31, 2012
Film review: Crabtree's YACety YAC, Moss gets applause ... twice

CrabYac.jpg

Alex Smith won his first ever NFC Player of the Week award for his near-perfect (and near-record; more on that below) performance against the Cardinals. He's the first 49ers offensive player to be given the honor by the league since Frank Gore got it in Week 14 of 2009.

Smith was the first to note that he got a lot of help from his receivers Monday, especially Michael Crabtree. When the 49ers drafted Crabtree 10th overall in 2009, they expected that yards after the catch (YAC) would be his specialty. That aspect finally is coming to bear. He showed it in a Week 2 win over Detroit and really showed it against the Cardinals.

Smith's longest ball of the night traveled only 20 yards in the air. By my count, the 49ers got 131 yards of YAC from their receivers. (And, yes, I know ESPN reported 107 YAC yards. I think it was a bit higher). Here's the YAC breakdown:

1st quarter:
Mario Manningham, 2 yards
Frank Gore, 8 yards
Delanie Walker, 3 yards

2nd quarter:
Kyle Williams, 2 yards
Michael Crabtree, 18 yards
Crabtree, 10 yards
Vernon Davis, 6 yards
Manningham, 1 yard
Crabtree, 7 yards (TD)

3rd quarter:
Ted Ginn, 1 yard
Crabtree, 27 yards
Randy Moss, 41 yards (TD)

4th quarter
Davis, 5 yards

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So what about that pass to Crabtree in the fourth quarter that was ruled a run? Gee, it's close to being a pass (which would have given Smith 20 attempts and made him the official NFL record holder for highest completion percentage ever) but it appears as if it goes backward, albeit slightly. Smith throws the ball from the SF 8-yard line and Crabtree takes it in just beyond the 7 yard line.

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Jim Harbaugh said Tuesday there was a huge reaction from the sideline both on Moss's touchdown and on the block Moss threw three plays earlier that helped spring Crabtree for some extra yardage on a 30-yard gain. Moss lowered his shoulder and bulldozed Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes a few feet from the 49ers sideline.

Said Harbaugh: "There was a lot of reaction to it on the sideline, and there was a lot of reaction in the film room when Randy got the block that got Michael a few more yards. Randy just works extremely hard, cares a lot about his teammates. When you see a guy have success and then you see the reaction that the teammates have for him, you know that he's a respected and well-liked guy."

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On the Moss touchdown, which came on third and eight, Smith initially looks to his right at Crabtree and Davis, both of whom were covered, before throwing back to his left for Moss. That is, Moss appears to be his third option. It highlights the good protection on the play as well as Smith's efficiency Monday night -- he made all of the right reads.

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Seattle's young safeties, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, get a lot of praise and justifiably so. But are they better than the 49ers tandem of Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner? Goldson -- who will be a free agent again -- continues to have the finest season of his career. Whitner, meanwhile, led the 49ers in tackles on Monday.

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The 49ers allowed no 40-plus yard plays like they did last year (there were three of them) in a loss to Arizona. However, they continue to have trouble with short passes and screens along the sideline. Remember how upset Vic Fangio was at a screen Detroit runner Joique Bell turned into a 50-yard gain in Week 2? LaRod Stephens-Howling had one for 24 yards while tight end Jeff King took a short pass up the sideline for 27 yards.

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Keep an eye on the 49ers nose tackle. Ricky Jean Francois has been getting into games earlier and earlier of late. He ended up playing just five fewer snaps than Isaac Sopoaga. Both are due to become free agents at the end of the year. It appears as if the 49ers favor the younger man, Jean Francois, or at least want to give him enough playing time to aid their decision. The 49ers also have taken away the plays at fullback Sopoaga had last season.

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Andy Lee had a second straight sensational game. Three of his punts were boomers that squished Patrick Peterson between the numbers and the sideline. Lee said there was only one punt -- down the middle -- that he regretted. But C.J. Spillman made an excellent ankle tackle to stop Peterson after a short gain. It was the second straight A-worthy performance by the coverage teams after a shaky start to the season.

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Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell did a lot of yakety yak before the game. But, boy, he played well. Mostly going against Mike Iupati, Campbell finished with six tackles (two behind the line of scrimmage), a sack and a quarterback hit.) The sack was one that could have put Smith out of the game or worse.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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