In a much anticipated matchup between one of the best offenses in the Conference versus maybe the best defense in the league, it was the 49ers offense who stole the show Sunday night.
The offense had many stars but none bigger than Alex Smith and Vernon Davis as they connected for two touchdown from 21 and 23 yards, one to put the Niners up early, and the other to put the game away late as San Francisco handled Detroit 27-19.
The 49ers offense started the game firing on all cylinders going 67 yards on four plays in a minute and twelve seconds ending the drive with a perfect 21 yard pass from Alex Smith to Vernon Davis in the corner of the end zone putting San Francisco up 7-0.
San Francisco would score again on the first play of the second quarter on a one yard touchdown run by Frank Gore. Gore would carry the ball seventeen times and finish with 89 yards rushing and another 16 receiving.
While the 49ers were busy scoring touchdowns early, the Lions were settling for field goals. Early on the Lions seemed determined to establish the run against San Francisco but every time they got close or inside the red zone, the 49ers defense tightened up and proved why they were the stingiest defense in the Conference last year.
The Lions attempted three field goals in the first half but only made two giving them six points at the half. The Lions would kick two more field goals in the second half and would finally get in the end zone with under two minutes to play in the game, making the score seem closer than it actually was.
The 49ers would add two field goals of their own in the second half but the big scoring drive came in the heart of the fourth quarter.
With 9:16 left in the game, Smith orchestrated a six minute, 13 play drive that took them 69 yards and was accented by a 23 yard touchdown pass to Davis who made a nice run to get to the end zone.
On the drive Smith was hit in the face with a forearm while sliding after a bootleg scramble down the sideline, cutting his nose and putting the quarterback in obvious pain. Smith winced in pain as he tried to shake it off and quickly did as he would complete the drive two plays later.
“He’s as tough as a $2 steak,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game recalling the drive. “I grew up eating a lot of them. I know what I’m talking about.”
Harbaugh also talked about Smith’s entire performance on Sunday night, calling it one of Alex’s best.
“I felt during the game and at the end of the game that this was one of Alex’s better/best performances.” Harbaugh continued, “I thought that he had a great night.”
Smith ended throwing for 226 yards and two touchdowns, and once again, didn’t turn the ball over. Smith has now gone 284 games (including postseason games) without throwing an interception, a franchise-record.
With the win, the 49ers open the season 2-0, and both wins are against teams from the NFC North, which happens to be the division of their next opponent the Minnesota Vikings.
San Francisco has taken an early lead in their own division, but Sunday’s win was key as every team in the NFC West won in Week 2.
Opening the season with two big wins against quality opponents, San Francisco has quickly established themselves as one of the top teams in the league but according to Harbaugh, there is still much work to be done.
“Hopefully all of our phases continue to improve and that’s what we got to do. We have to get better and come back every single week and prepare ourselves, and win, that’s the single most important factor, but you certainly want to improve while you’re doing it.”
(Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were taken first-hand.)