That knocking sound you hear? It's Mike Singletary showing up early for his 2008 exit interview. For the last few weeks, reporters have asked Singletary if he has thought about what he'll say to the team owners at season's end. Singletary's answer invariably has been the same: He said he hopes the team's performance does all the talking for him. If that's the case, the 49ers did a lot of talking today. To wit:
- For the second straight week, they beat a team in the thick of the AFC East playoff hunt. Some people sloughed off last week's game in Buffalo, arguing that the Bills did as much to insure their loss - two missed field goals - as the 49ers did to get a win. The Jets, however, were coming off a bad loss and were thought to be focused on getting back to their winning ways. They were leading the AFC East and they were two weeks away from beating the then-best team in football, Tennessee. In other words, this was a quality team.
- The 49ers beat the Jets by essentially keeping the ball out of the hands of their playmakers. Their two top wideouts, Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles, had one catch apiece. The team's leading receiver was Chansi "Who?" Stuckey. Brett Favre also had his lowest output of the season - 137 yards.
- The 49ers offense deserves a huge chunk of the credit after holding onto the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game. They did so playing nearly the entire second half without Frank Gore, who had to be helped off the field with a sprained left ankle. X-rays taken at halftime were negative (i.e., nothing broken) and Gore is listed as questionable for next week's game. It's a shame - Gore really was looking forward to his first game in his hometown of Miami. He also is just 22 yards shy of becoming the first 49ers 'back to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. He would have easily reached that mark today had he not gotten injured.
- The defense also had a significant injury. Nate Clements did not even attempt to suit up. He said that the pin in his thumb essentially prevented him from playing, which raises the question of whether he had any real chance of participating once he had his surgery on Tuesday. No matter. What's significant now is that his replacements, namely Donald Strickland and Tarell Brown, played very well in his absence. Brown needs to be more physical, but he is turning into an excellent cover corner.
- A few unheralded players who deserve recognition: Chilo Rachal continues to look impressive. He was doing a number on Kris Jenkins, especially late in the game. On defense, Justin Smith is all over the field. He doesn't finish with a lot of statistics, but offenses have to commit a number of players to defend him. And finally, Shaun Hill ... The 49ers may still need more time before they decide to give Singletary the job for next season. Hill, it would seem, is making a similarly strong case to retain his job for 2009. His line from Sunday: 285 yards and a 98.8 passer rating.
That's it for now. Lots more tomorrow. Enjoy the win, 49ers fan ...
-- Matt Barrows