Now that I am no longer a full-time reporter covering the 49ers, it’s nice to watch the team again as a fan and really just enjoy the game without worrying about stats and quotes. But after watching last night’s game, I couldn’t help but start thinking as if I was on the beat again.
One thing that stood out to me was that this game was exactly what the 49ers wanted to do the remainder of the season. The 49ers defense set the tone by shutting down the Cardinals. On offense, the running game opened up the 49ers quick strike passing attack. The three touchdowns Alex Smith threw put the game away early and the Cardinals had no chance of coming back.
The ironic thing is that this is what Mike Singletary envisioned for the team when he was the head coach. The defense was strong enough to hold Larry Fitzgeraled to an unimpressive five-catch performance. The offense for the 49ers was fueled by the running game and the quick passes would also be in the mix. With that, the 49ers took the early lead, then pretty much sat on the ball for the second half. The Cardinals had no chance of winning.
This display of 49ers football would bring joy to the fans but in the back of my mind, I am reminded of the debacle against the New York Giants. Smith look flustered, the running game was ineffective and the defense struggled to make key stops. Would that 49ers team show up again? The Giants did expose the 49ers.
So as we continued on after the bye week, I wonder which 49ers team will we see down the line. Will it be the quick strike offense from Monday or the ugly one against the Giants?
It’s not a bad thing for the 49ers to have these questions at the mid-point of the season. Unlike last year’s feel good attitude, the 49ers are viewed as a top dog in the NFC and teams are trying to bring them down. San Francisco has to find a way to continue to re-invent their own identity.
Maybe it’s common to worry like this. Prior to the loss to the Giants, the 49ers were putting up record numbers on offense and defense. But the letdown against New York brought the team back to reality. Now with another solid offensive performance, I fear that another letdown may be on the horizon.
But that’s why a bye week is good at this time. Expect the 49ers to come back stronger than ever and if they learned anything from their last loss, expect the offense to reach new heights of success down the stretch.
Am I overthinking this? Probably. But I bet the 49ers are thinking just the same way.