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

October 14, 2012
Smith, 49ers missing magic touch in first half

Alex Smith, his middle finger wrapped, doesn't have the magic touch he had last week, and the 49ers trail the Giants 10-3.

Smith threw his second interception of the season, and the Giants quickly converted the mistake into seven points. He also underthrew a wide-open Mario Manningham just before the half on a play that would have perhaps evened the game up heading into the break. Smith, who went into the weekend with the league's highest passer rating, is 11-18 for 91 yards and a 50.9 rating. Counterpart Eli Manning is 13-18 for 176 yards, a touchdown and a 121.5 rating.

The biggest play of the game was turned in by backup Colin Kaepernick who entered at garbage time - 11 seconds left in the half - but managed to throw a 36-yard pass over the middle to Manningham. That set up a 52-yard field goal by David Akers. Akers was wide left. He was wide right on a 43-yard attempt in the first quarter and later hit from 42 yards. He is 6-12 on field goals in the last four games.

After two methodical drives that set up field-goal attempts, Smith and the 49ers went for a big play on a wheel route to Delanie Walker. NFC Championship game aficionados will recall that Smith missed an open Walker on that same play when completions and yards were hard to come by on Jan. 22.

This time Smith appeared to think Walker was being covered one on one when, in fact, the Giants were in a zone coverage. Cornerback Prince Amukamara stepped in front of the pass and picked it off at the New York 33-yard line.

Manning was hit 18 times in the championship game but has only been hit twice so far, including no sacks. He and the Giants took advantage of Smith's mistake by going 67 yards in seven plays before Manning hooked up with Victor Cruz for a 10-yard touchdown.

Justin Smith, who was singled out by Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, has played well. But it hasn't translated to pressure on Manning. The 49ers defense has been outplayed thus far by their Giants counterparts, who had been criticized this season for their lack of sacks.

Kyle Williams has taken back two kickoffs, one of them 25 yards. He also caught seven-yard passes on consecutive third downs for the 49ers.

-- 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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