The NFL earth shifted on its axis Sunday afternoon. The consensus best team in the NFC was beaten at home 30-22 by the consensus last year was a fluke team. The San Francisco 49ers beat Green Bay in every phase of the game and only a barbarous gaffe by the referees kept this contest as close as it turned out to be.
Exorcising the ghosts of draft picks past and the twenty-two year ghosts of Lambeau Field, Alex Smith out played Aaron Rodgers in leading the 49ers to victory. The offseason acquistions of Perrish Cox, Mario Manningham, and Randy Moss all contributed to the win. With Cox added to the secondary, along with 2011 draft pick Chris Culliver, the 49ers now have four solid CBs to contain the wild and wooly four receiver sets favored by the gunslinger offenses such as Green Bay. And with Moss and Manningham added to the WR mix, the extremely rare sight of 49er receivers running free and clear in an opponent’s secondary magically and mercifully appeared at last.
Perhaps fittingly on this break through day, Smith put his name at the top of the franchise record book for most consecutive passes without an interception, eclipsing the title holder Steve Young and the man in third place, Joe Montana. The only national expert who foresaw this victory was Terry “Give Me an A” Bradshaw, the reigning goof ball of the NFL pundit scene. Some might throw Deion Sanders into that mix, but he’s more of a pin headed huckster than goof ball.
The 49er offense was a mystery heading into this game, but Sunday it nonchalantly put up 30 points and could have had more if not for Jim Harbaugh switching to the four minute prevent offense in the 4th quarter. Jeez, Jim. Will you cut that shit out already?
The defense, a worry by those who would worry, had not played well in the exhibition season, and the history of both the recent years of this franchise and the career of Vic Fangio hinted that a regression was in order this year. Oh, no, Nanette! Not on this glorious Wisconsin Sunday afternoon.
With the Giants and Saints both getting beat, along with the Packers, it’s impossible not to view the 49ers as the team to beat in the NFC.
And they looked the part Sunday. In addition to the precise passing of Smith, Frank Gore put up 112 yards rushing, and the team totaled 186 yards on the ground. Green Bay, in contrast, totaled 45 yards rushing, 27 of which were by Rodgers’ scrambles. Cedric Benson rushed 9 times for 18 yards. Egads, gents. And that was against our nickel defense!
Kyle Williams exorcised his own ghosts, too, turning in a flawless performance as the punt returner. It was his 20 yard punt return and the Harbaughian insertion of Colin “Crazy Legs” Kaepernick for a 17 yard bolt up the middle that set the stage for David Akers record tying 63 yard precisely to the crossbar field goal to end the first half.
This team has no weaknesses. They are scary good. Whatever worries had boiled to the surface of the blogorama during the lack luster exhibition season were quickly shooed away by this impressive debut game. It stands to reason the team will only get better as the season unfolds. That’s a frightening thought. For others. For us, it’s the stuff of happy, happy Sundays and sweet, sweet dreams.