Who would have thought a 4-1 team beating a 5-0 team at their home stadium would be a smaller story than what happened just after the game? Well that is exactly what happened Sunday at Fords Field as a head coach confrontation overshadowed a great road victory for San Francisco. As Jim Schwartz came up to congratulate Harbaugh for the victory, he was apparently shoved away, and depending on who you believe, there were some expletives handed out between the two sides. Either way, a great victory for San Francisco, and that will be my focus on this post.
Detroit got off to an early lead and found themselves up 10-0 after the first. San Francisco has rarely had to work behind this season, so it was interesting to see how they would answer this early deficit. They did so well, continuing their conservative style of play, with Frank Gore having another stellar performance. He capped off a drive early in the 2nd with a 1 yd run, which he set up the previous play with a 55 yard run. The early concerns about Frank Gore are quickly diminishing after three straight games of 120 yards and a score. This allowed for Alex Smith to manage the game, which is exactly what he did. A very underwhelming stat line for Alex Smith, as he completed just over half of his passes for a meager 125 yards with a TD and INT. Games like this leave me not completely sold on Smith, but there is not too much to complain about after a win.
A pleasant sight to see was the standout performance of Michael Crabtree. With this offense pounding the ball more on the run and last week Smith focused more on the tight ends, it was starting to seem as though Crabtree wasn’t fitting very well in this offense. That wasn’t the case Sunday as he was targeted by far a team high 15 times while hauling in 9 balls for 77 yards. Delanie Walker brought in a TD for the second straight week, while Vernon Davis was held in check with just 8 yards.
The stat line may not say it, but the Niners did a pretty good job of keeping Calvin Johnson in check for most of the game. He finished with 7 catches for 113 yards, but a lot of that came late, and the biggest stat was the 0 TDs he put up. San Fran is the ONLY team to do that this year, and that is huge for this defense. The Lions were held to two field goals of around 25 yards that could have easily been touchdowns. A lot of pressure from the defense was key. Stafford was sacked 5 times with 10 QB hits. Rookie Aldon Smith had 2 of those sacks and is now up to 5.5 on the year.
The 49ers now have a very comfortable lead atop the NFC West heading into a bye next week. There should be very few doubters now after Sunday’s quality win.