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

October 2, 2012
49ers film review: The team, the team, the team beats Jets

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"The team, the team, team." This is one of the 49ers' unofficial slogans, something you'll find up on a wall at the 49ers facility. It comes from a quote by Bo Schembechler, who is one of Jim Harbaugh's favorites, and it explains so much about the 49ers and especially Sunday's win over the Jets.

For the first time this season, every 49er who dressed for the game set foot in the game. And they just didn't make token appearances. Everyone - from backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick to undrafted rookie Garrett Celek to dime cornerback Perrish Cox - played a role Sunday. Twelve different 49ers either had a carry or a reception on offense, and it would have been 13 if fullback Will Tukuafu hadn't been interfered with on a late goal-line play.

Harbaugh believes that the team is better when everyone plays, everyone is involved, everyone has a role. That may stink if you have, say, Michael Crabtree or Vernon Davis or Randy Moss on your fantasy team. But individuals don't always shine in an "everyone plays" philosophy. As Schembechler said, "No man is more important than the team."

Moreover, a player's productivity can vary from week to week. Moss, for example, only was targeted once and had no completions after being targeted six times last week in Minnesota. But Delanie Walker was targeted four times Sunday - by far his highest mark this season -- and finished with two catches for 31 yards.

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Lots of hand-wringing about Alex Smith after this one. In fact, from the reaction of some fans, you'd have thought he was on the losing end of the 34-0 score. One of the chief laments is that Smith doesn't attack downfield enough. I buy that critique overall, but that wasn't the case Sunday.

In fact, he went downfield - throws of 20 or more yards - seven times against the Jets' aggressive defense, most of them against new cornerback starter Kyle Wilson. Two passes were complete, three were incomplete, one drew a pass-interference penalty and one perhaps should have been caught for what would have been a touchdown. Here they are:

• On the first play of the game, Smith goes downfield to Crabtree, who is held by Wilson, drawing a pass-interference penalty.

• 1Q, 1st&20 at SF 26. Smith goes deep downfield to Mario Manningham for 26 yards. Wilson should have been in coverage on the play, but he decided to cover Kendall Hunter shallow along the sideline, allowing Manningham to break open.

• 1Q, 3rd&7 at NY 45. Smith goes deep again for Manningham down the left sideline. The ball is overthrown and incomplete. Manningham complained that he was held.

• 2Q, 3rd&8 at SF 25. Smith goes deep left to Crabtree, who has two steps on Wilson. The ball is badly overthrown, and a catch would have been rubbed out by an Anthony Davis unnecessary roughness penalty.

• 3Q, 1st&10 at SF 40. Smith goes deep right to Walker, who makes the catch but is well out of bounds.

• 3Q, 3rd&13, NY 49. Smith goes deep right to Manningham, who puts a double move on Wilson. Wilson grabs at him, slows him down and the ball glances off Manningham's hand. If Manningham catches the seemingly catchable ball, it's a 51-yard touchdown, and Smith's ho-hum 78.1 passer rating becomes a sterling 108 rating.

• 3Q, 1st&10, NY 36. Moss takes the cornerback and the safety deep into the end zone and Walker drags in beneath them. It's a nicely-designed play that goes for 25 yards.

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The Jets knew that Smith's go-to throw this season has been the slant pass to Crabtree. They were sitting on that route all game, especially on third downs. That's what caused Smith to double clutch on two occasions, including one in which he was sacked in the first half. Another slant to Crabtree was broken up, perhaps too aggressively. The 49ers were looking for a pass-interference call on the play.

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On defense, every player seemed to have an excellent game as the unit stifled both the Jets running and passing game. The player who stood out the most to me was defensive end Ray McDonald, who seemed to be a half-step ahead of everyone else. McDonald broke down Sanchez's pocket on a play in which Ahmad Brooks got a sack, he batted a pass that was intercepted by Patrick Willis and he got his own sack that was wiped away by a penalty on Carlos Rogers.

If McDonald was Player 1A, then safety Dashon Goldson was 1B. Sanchez was double-clutching throughout the game, in large part because Goldson and fellow safety Donte Whitner were squatting on so many of Sanchez's receivers. Goldson had a big hit that caused a fumble (Though it probably shouldn't have been ruled a fumble) and he nicely broke up two passes.

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Remember Kaepernick's 17-yard run in the first quarter in which he was tripped up by the ankle? Well, he lost his shoe on the play and is seen desperately trying to get it on. I wonder if the plan was for Kaepernick to remain on the field and to follow that play with a deep shot, perhaps to Moss. A few plays later, Kaepernick - his shoe back on his foot - returns to the game but underthrows Moss in the end zone.

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Everyone got a nice block on Kaepernick's touchdown run. The best, however, may have been delivered by Frank Gore, who crashes into Wilson, who has perhaps the best shot at stopping Kaepernick before the goal line. Gore also had a key block in the Lions game, tripping up a Detroit linebacker on a key catch and run by Crabtree on third down late in the game.

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Finally, it seems that any time the coaching staff has extra time to prepare, the 49ers come out with an impressive win. That happened last year in the playoffs. And it happened in Week 1 in Green Bay, a game for which the 49ers had been preparing since April.

As offensive coordinator Greg Roman noted last week, staying all week at a Holiday Inn in Boardman, Ohio last week also allowed the coaches more time to prepare for Sunday's game. And it showed. In fact, the 49ers should shoot a commercial: We're not a Super-Bowl winning staff, but we did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last week ....

-- 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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