Last season, the San Francisco 49ers gutted out some very ugly wins. Games were won by one point and they were won on last second field goals. On Sunday against the Detroit Lions, it was a different kind of ugly win as the 49ers came out on top, 27-19. It was ugly while still being a game that San Francisco was well-in control of from start to finish. It was ugly because there were far too many mistakes for a team that is supposed to be so complete.
Alex Smith had some beautiful throws, and is becoming a top-flight quarterback before our very eyes. Unfortunately, some of them (deep down to the left sideline for Vernon Davis, over the middle in double/triple coverage to Mario Manningham) were dropped despite how easily catch-able they were. He was bloodied and could have been demoralized many, many times, and yet he played great football until the very end.
Defensively, the 49ers were solid against the run as always. They also played the pass well, until the second half. Detroit made the proper adjustments and, especially in the fourth quarter, the Lions started to pick up big chunks of yardage. They managed to score in the fourth to make the game seem closer than it actually was, but the reality is that the 49ers were in charge of this one from the beginning.
And that's the big difference between last year and this year. Last year, San Francisco was the kind of team that would grind out games and barely win. This year, they've clearly been the better team against both the Lions and the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.
Going forward, San Francisco will need to address the drops. That's one of the biggest issues of this game, and a worrying trend given the fact that San Francisco appears to actually have a strong group of receivers this time around. Late-game issues aside, this is a definite strong outing and San Francisco should be very happy entering their Week 3 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.