Grantland eats crow; admits #49ers are AWESOME.
Adam Rifkin stashed this in 49ers!
Bill Barnwell admits that the presence of Moss and Manningham opened up space for a resurgent Niners running game:
After dropping an incredible 311 rushing yards on the Bills during their 45-3 blowout of Buffalo on Sunday, the Niners are now averaging a whopping 6.1 yards per carry on running plays. 6.1! Since the merger, only the 2006 Falcons have averaged more yards per carry through their first five games, and they had Michael Vick.
The Niners now have a consistent, reliable attack:
Last year, the Niners picked up first downs or touchdowns on 13.5 percent of their first-down carries; this year, that figure's up to 24.4 percent. They produced a first down on 28.6 percent of their third-down carries, and that's up to a whopping 52.6 percent (albeit on 19 carries). That's a truly devastating attack.
Joe Staley and Mike Iupati give the 49ers the best left side of any offensive line in football, especially on the ground:
Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have continued to place an emphasis on personnel and formation diversity, further keeping defenses on their toes and creating mismatches. That's only been heightened by the arrival of Colin Kaepernick and his Pistol playbook from Nevada, a dimension that the team was hesitant to bust out during Kaepernick's rookie season. He's been an effective runner so far, fumble on Sunday aside, and the Niners will undoubtedly create passing plays downfield for Kaepernick with those early-season runs as the year goes along.
That improved running game has also helped produce one of the best five-game stretches of Alex Smith's career:
All the people who suggested that Harbaugh would make Smith much better with a full offseason certainly appear to be right, because Smith is playing like a smarter, more effective passer. While he left a few big plays on the field against the Jets, that really wasn't the case against the porous secondary of the Bills.
A perfect example of everything this offense does well is the 53-yard completion from Smith to Vernon Davis in the first quarter, a play that saw the Niners line up eight linemen or tight ends with their hands in the dirt and somehow end up with a bomb to an open receiver. This is a long, safe throw against a defense that's totally unprepared for the possibility of play action and gets lost in pass defense. The Niners can now run out of this formation in future weeks against teams who will have this play in the back of their heads, which is a huge positive for such a run-friendly alignment.
Alex Smith had a 158.3 passer rating in the game against the Bills.