Posts Tagged ‘Frank Gore’

Saturday January 14, 2012 marked the first playoff game for the San Francisco 49ers since 2002.

The 49ers entered the 2012 playoffs as the NFC’s #2 seed, earning a home game against the #3 seeded New Orleans Saints.

The Saints finished the 2011-’12 regular season with a 13-3 record identical to the Niners, but lost the tie breaker for having a worse record against NFC teams. Because of the dominating fashion in which the Saints ended their season, many analysts (including Las Vegas odds makers) favored New Orleans on the road.

Those who did pick the 49ers, sited the stellar defense and kicking game as their reason in most cases, dismissing the offense, specifically quarterback Alex Smith, as a liability that needed overcoming in order to win.

 The defense got the opportunity to prove itself first, as San Francisco deferred the kickoff to the second half, giving New Orleans first possession on offense.

Drew Brees drove down the field almost with ease it seemed, entering the red zone in 8 plays.

On 3rd and 6 at the San Francisco 7 yard line, Brees threw a dump pass to Pierre Thomas, who was drilled by Donte Whitner, causing Thomas to fumble the ball while being knocked out cold. Thomas left the game for good.

Alex Smith led the Niners to a 1st quarter 17-0 lead, throwing 2 touchdowns to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree.

Brees answered with 2 touchdowns of his own, pulling to within 3 points at 17-14.

The two teams then traded field goals to make it 23-17 San Francisco.

New Orleans took its first lead on a 44 yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles and went up 24-23 with 4:02 remaining in the game.

San Francisco drove down the field and Alex Smith ran the ball in for a touchdown from 28 yards out. The Niners then decided to go for the 2-point conversion to make it a 7 point game but failed to get the ball into the end zone on a draw play to Frank Gore, leaving the score 29-24 with 2:11 left.

Summoning the offensive greatness the Saints displayed all season long, Brees threw a perfect pass to Jimmy Graham for 66 yards and a touchdown.

New Orleans also went for two only they were able to convert, putting the Saints up by 3 (32-29).

With 1:32 remaining in the game, San Francisco had their backs to the wall and the pressure was on. With David Akers kicking on your team, much of that pressure is relieved.

The Niners started their drive from their own 15 yard line. On the fourth play of the drive, Smith connected with Vernon Davis for 47 yards to the New Orleans 20 yard line, giving the 49ers the distance desired to at least tie the game on a field goal.

After a 6 yard pass to Frank Gore and a ball spike, Alex Smith called an over the middle cross pattern route to his primary target Davis.

The pass was a thing a beauty. Smith fired the ball through defenders into the waiting arms of Davis, as he fell into the end zone, the crowd erupting in sheer elation.

It was reminiscent of the Niners legends of old. “The Play” Joe Montana to Dwight Clark, “The Catch II” Steve Young to Terrell Owens, and now “The Grab” Alex Smith to Vernon Davis.

The 49ers proved they belong in the upper ranks with the championship contenders. And what’s more, Alex Smith proved himself a Super Bowl worthy quarterback.

Alex Smith, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers

Image via Wikipedia

The San Francisco 49ers have 2 weeks remaining in their historic turn-around season.

The 49ers have suffered from about a decade of coaching musical chairs, horrendous offensive lines, and weak QB consistency.

Enter Jim Harbaurgh.

Instantly, the vibe in San Francisco changed from despair to hope.

Within a matter of weeks, the 49ers established themselves as the top contender in the NFC West and have not left an inch of space for refute since.

Sure, there have been hiccups along the way, with losses to Dallas, Baltimore and Arizona but, overall, the Niners have torn a path of defensive destruction and offensive reliability. The losses were by an average of just 5 points.

San Francisco has the league’s #1 rush defense and have not allowed a rushing touchdown all season (the rest of the NFL teams have allowed at least 6). Their offense is also one of the leagues best at efficiently protecting the football, which is reflected in their +25 turnover ratio.

QB Alex Smith has contributed greatly to the success of the team as well, holding one of the league’s lowest interception ratios (second only to Aaron Rodgers, who seems pretty good).

Smith’s ability to control the game and lead the offense is due in part to the massive improvement of the offensive line. The Niners have made strengthening the line a matter of focus the last couple seasons and is now showing results, both in Smith’s play and in RB Frank Gore‘s.

San Francisco boasts the league’s 9th best rushing attack and special teams play second to none. David Akers is the league’s highest scoring place kicker and punter Andy Lee has the second highest average punt distance at 50.4 (#1 averages 50.5).

Throw this all together with a successful coach that genuinely loves the game and is his players’ number one supporter, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for W’s.

The most advantageous aspect of it all, is that the Niners are one of the leagues youngest teams on both sides of the ball (3rd youngest defense and 6th youngest offense).

We could be seeing the next generation of 49er dominance.