On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers got out to a relatively slow start, but eventually took advantage of just about every flaw the New York Jets have en route to a 34-0 shutout. Once the 49ers trotted out Colin Kaepernick for the read option, things started clicking, and the mistakes made by the Jets offense really started to pile on.
In comparison to a week ago, the difference was like night and day. Against the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers looked like they hadn't gameplanned at all, while they managed to zero in on every strength the Jets had and neutralized it. Coming into the game, we said the best thing San Francisco could do is go out and show that the Minnesota loss was just a stupid game, and not the beginning of a bad losing skid.
They accomplished that goal. Below, we've got some notes that I made during the game. Not a complete recap by any means, but a good indication of my thought process during the game.
- For weeks, we've talked about how the San Francisco 49ers need to get back to winning the field position battle, and on Sunday, they made some significant strides in that area. The offense has looked much improved this season to be sure, but this group of guys won't be a reliable threat to produce extended touchdown drives from inside or at their own 20-yard line.
- Mario Manningham remains a player who is dynamite with the ball in his hands. He's got the odd quality of making plays without being especially elusive or fast like say, a Percy Harvin or a Desean Jackson. When he's got the ball, he's got his head on a swivel and simply knows where to go with it.
- On the 49ers' second possession, they ran three read option plays and one reverse. Those plays netted them 61 yards and a touchdown. We'll have plenty more on the read option and how the 49ers use it, but suffice to say, it was a huge part of the gameplan early on. And for the most part, it worked.
- San Francisco is so good at protecting the football that it's not totally unwarranted to just add three points to their score once they enter field goal range. Barring a sack, it's hard to imagine them not ending up with three points what with how great they are at preventing interceptions. Naturally, Smith goes ahead and gets sacked twice as I type this note, taking him out of field goal range.
- It just wouldn't be 49ers football unless a timeout or two was spent for no good reason.
- In the second quarter, San Francisco almost got away with having Kaepernick totally unguarded as a receiver on the outside. He was in at quarterback on the previous play, then jogged to the sidelines, but stayed on the field at wide receiver. The Jets had nobody on him, and had to call a timeout a fraction of a second before Jonathan Goodwin was able to snap the ball. The ensuing play surely would have been a touchdown.
- Anthony Davis has been phenomenal this season, and until Week 4, hadn't been called for a penalty. He was called for unnecessary roughness against the Jets, and it's a wonder that a player still regarded as raw an immature made it that long. Definitely looking to be a big year for him.
- Outside of field position, where is the one place the 49ers dominated and were able to attribute victories to a season ago? Turnovers. The 49ers managed a couple fumble recoveries and an interception in the first three quarters, and it was a big factor in the game.
- Delanie Walker is just so bad at catching the ball these days. There's not even a reason we can give at this point .. he's just not good at it, especially when he's in the open field. He'll still haul in a good reception over a defensive back or linebacker, but when he's wide open, the balls continually go right off of his hands. He did start to make a couple catches after a bad drop or two, but it's too little, too late at this point.
- That play where Santonio Holmes fumbled was wild, but it was a good call by the referees. You can't give yourself up by throwing the ball away, though I do firmly believe it could have been called as an illegal forward pass, as well.
- The game was San Francisco's first shutout on the road since a 38-0 victory over the New Orleans Saints in 2001.