49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

Still processing yesterday's 10-3 win, which, along with 2006 wins in Seattle and Denver, has to be one of the three most impressive 49ers victories in the last six seasons. The underlying theme of the game is this: That the players have responded to Mike Singletary. Not only have several - most notably Vernon Davis and Takeo Spikes - openly lobbied for Singletary, on Sunday they embodied each of the themes that Singletary has been hammering into them for the last month or so. And for a team that has no shot at the playoffs, that's saying something. ... On the flip side, the 49ers always finished strongly under Mike Nolan as well. Those strong finishes, however, never seemed to translate into fast starts the next season, mainly because the 49ers always were learning a new offense. Other observations:

Was this NT Aubrayo Franklin's best game? The Bills' game plan was to use their massive offensive line - the NFL's biggest - and wear down Franklin and his linemates. The 49ers responded by moving Franklin to different spots on the line. After the game, Takeo Spikes singled out Franklin, whose forte is quickness, not strength and size, for his performance. How can you tell if Franklin played well? Inside linebacker Patrick Willis led all tacklers with 14 stops; Spikes was tied for second on the team with six.

Speaking of Willis, he was the only injured 49er after the game. He suffered bruised ribs but returned to the game. That means that in the last three weeks, Willis has had a hip strain, battled an illness, dealt with a sprained ankle and now will contend with sore ribs. And yet he keeps on ticking. After Sunday's performance, he is four tackles behind Cleveland's D'Qwell Jackson for the league lead.

Davis had exactly one pass thrown in his direction. It's clear that, as far as the passing game is concerned, the tight end is a misfit in Mike Martz's offense. You can talk all you want about Davis dropping passes or, in yesterday's case, committing bad penalties. But when a player had exactly seven passes thrown his way in the last four games, it's a poor use of a Top 10 draft pick.

Didn't it seem as if the Bills and 49ers had done a Freaky Friday thing yesterday? That is, it looked like the Bills were the team from the sunny West Coast and were caught off guard by the ugly weather off Lake Erie. Missing two very make-able field goals is one thing. But the Bills also won the coin toss and decided to defer their possession to the second half when the weather was worse. The 49ers, of course, took the opening kickoff and marched 72 yards for the game's only touchdown.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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