Maybe it’s the sprained finger of Alex Smith on week 5 that’s bothering him, but it was another bad game for the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Luckily, there’s enough to use besides the passing game, like Frank Gore on a great day to wheel them forward against the Seattle Seahawks.
It was a physical and punishing game, as expected. Only one touchdown was scored in the game, as Smith found Delanie Walker for a touchdown in the third quarter, giving the 49ers a 10-6 lead that turned into a 13-6 with another David Akers field goal. It was their first touchdown in seven quarter of football, but not the kind of performance to put their 3-26 loss against the New York Giants too far behind.
It wasn’t a day for quarterbacks in general, while Smith’s 14-23, 140 yards with one TD and one interception was the better of the two. Russell Wilson continues to struggle against division opponents (0-3), completing only nine of his 23 passes for 122 yards and an interception.
The 49ers gave Smith protection this time, allowing him to be sacked only twice, losing only two yards on those plays. But there was no attempting the deep ball. In the last two weeks, Smith is s 1-5 (20.0 percent) with one interception on such throws. This was how Harbaugh likes it – Strong running game, great defense. They kept Wilson from getting any long passes going, defending two of his passes traveling more than 15 yards downfield and intercepting another.
Smith? He settled for the short game. That’s what the 49ers are about. Smith can add his own when the pressure is off him, and the focus is on the running game. When he’s not supposed to be trying to do to much, he’s perfect for the team, for the scheme. He’s never going to be an all-pro quarterback who finishes consecutive games with 350 yards. He there to orchestrate the offense and help open up defenses with short passes, nothing more. He had 12 of his 14 completions coming on throws five yards or fewer.
Reverting back to Frank Gore was the answer – Big runs, finishing with 131 yards on 16 carries is the way to go for this team. Gore also led the receivers with 51 yards on 5 receptions. The 49ers gained 175 yards on the ground. They couldn’t completely shut down the Seahawks, as Marshawn Lynch gained 103 yards, but that was the only thing worthwhile about the Seahawks’ offense on Thursday.
Harbaugh learns from his mistakes. The 49ers are 5-0 under him in weeks after a loss. The lesson was simple this time – More pressure from the defense, showing more blitzing schemes against a rookie quarterback who isn’t great seeing a lot of pass rushers coming at him, and making the decision for Alex Smith, giving him as few as possible opportunities to mess things up.