Lambeau, Schlambeau

Lambeau, Schlambeau.

Erasing a blemish that’s been oozing since 1990, the San Francisco 49ers ventured triumphantly onto the humid tundra of Green Bay and served notice to the rest of the NFC that the long and winding road that leads to funky New Orleans in February of 2013 still parades it’s way through smelly Candlestick Park.

The Beatles (whose final U.S. Concert was at the even-then smelly Candlestick Park) sang “All you need is Love”, but for Alex Smith the song goes “All you pretty much need is Wide Receivers.” To which I add: And Frank Gore, David Akers and that Defense, with a capital D. To further butcher the fine lyrics of the Lads from Liverpool “There’s nothing you can do that they can’t stop.”

If Punter Andy Lee doesn’t out-kick his coverage team in the 4th Quarter, and if Randall Cobb of Green Bay doesn’t run it back all the way for a TD, and if the sometimes pathetic fill-in officials don’t blow an obvious blocking in the back penalty on the return then the game is no where near as close as the score. It was 23-7 at the end of the 3rd, thanks in part to Kicker David Akers NFL record-tying 63 yard field goal just before halftime that received a beneficent bounce off the crossbar of the goal post.

The 49ers brought in Randy Moss to help bolster their anemic 2011 red-zone performance, and Moss did catch his first touchdown pass since 2010 in the first half, yet if 49er Quarterback Alex Smith wasn’t so fixated on Moss near the goal line in the 3rd Quarter, he might have taken advantage of Green Bay’s blown defensive coverage and found Michael Crabtree all alone in the corner of the end zone. I believe Green Bay ended up with a Defensive End covering Crabtree. No matter, Smith hit Tight End Vernon Davis with a four yard throw for a TD, capping the 49ers red-zone efficiency at a nice round 100%. Besides, Green Bay played the gracious host and provided several other blown defensive coverages, most of which Smith was able to fully exploit. At one point, the ‘Niners ran off three straight 20 yard-plus plays.

Smith looks different this year. He seems to have shaken off the 49ers flirting with Peyton Manning and re-embraced Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. There was nothing he could do about all the offensive coordinators and head coaches and turmoil in the front office, but maybe he has learned how to be Alex Smith in time. He completed 76% of his passes, 15 to wide receivers, 3 to TE Vernon Davis, and only 2 to running backs. His 20 of 26 day with 2 TD’s and 0 interceptions added up to a quarterback rating of 125.6, which is just below Peyton Manning and above Tom Brady. More importantly, Smith led the 49ers to a crucial 4th quarter score after Cobb’s electric punt return brought the Green Bay crowd back from wherever they had gone to be quiet together.

Frank Gore looked good, with over a hundred yards and a 7 yard-per-carry average. Kendall Hunter proved an able back-up, taking 9 carries and averaging 4.6 yards per-carry. The offensive line is big and fast and has had a year to gel. Harbaugh is inspired, and obviously has the attention of his team. Yes, it’s a long season, but Harbaugh, Smith, Gore and Willis may be the new Fab Four: “Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It’s easy.”

NFL Sunday morning one-liners

 

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Here are some Sunday morning one-liners from around the league

WR Stevie Johnson wants to see more from the Bills in the coming weeks.

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald thinks Dolphins brass will be put to the test by WR Chad Johnson’s arrest.

Kevin Faulk found it strange to watch the Patriots preseason opener on television.

Rookie LB Demario Davis could push for a starting job with the Jets this season.

The Ravens aren’t rushing to sign another tight end.

Bengals rookies were happy to get a taste of game action.

WR Travis Benjamin flashed some speed for the Browns offense.

Steelers FB Will Johnson took a roundabout route to the NFL.

LB Whitney Mercilus flashed some pass rushing skills in his Texans debut.

The Colts have activated LB Tim Fugger from the PUP list.

Said Jaguars RB Rashad Jennings, “I’m not perfect, but I very much strive to do things the right way. Football is a platform. I’m an average Joe, day and night. I’m also a goofball. I like to laugh, fart around. It just so happens I’m stuck in this body that’s capable of playing this game. I’m not bigger than anything.”  Read more…

2012 NFL preview: AFC East

Wes WelkerWith the 2012 NFL regular season just a few months away, now is the time where people normally start making guesses as to who will make it all the way this year. The smart football fans out there will have the AFC East as one of their top divisions. After all, a team from the division has made an appearance in the AFC Championship Game for three consecutive years and for five of the last six. Let’s take a look at each of the teams and how they’re set to measure up for 2012.  Read More…

Miami Dolphins 2012 season preview

 

Miami DolphinsThe 2012 Miami Dolphins will officially kick off their regular season on September 9 against the Houston Texans. That game will mark the beginning of a campaign surrounded by question marks. It’s a fair assessment to say that the Dolphins could easily find themselves in the playoffs, or they could easily find themselves with a high draft pick heading into 2013.

Expectations for the 2012 season start with the 2011 season.  Read more…