Last week I mentioned how inspired I was by the behavior of the Packers' fans in Green Bay. This week, I decided to take what I'd learned from those kind, wonderful people to the streets. And by "the streets," I mean Candlestick Park.
Alas, when a girl in head-to-toe Niners' gear with an unfortunate Valley Girl accent that makes zero sense (considering she’s only been to L.A. four times in her entire life) goes up to a stranger wearing Detroit Lions’ clothing and says, "Hi! I just wanted to say that I hope you have a lot of fun today at the game! Except not TOO much fun (giggle giggle)" or "Welcome to Candlestick. Thanks for coming! I hope that people are being nice to you!" it just sounds, well totally and completely disingenuous. But whatever. At least I tried.
Which is more than I can say for most people -- namely, the horrific Niners' fan en route to the game. While I'm trying not to let it bother me, it does. For example, does everyone on the bus heading to the game need to scream the F-word at the top of his lungs? Is it necessary to call the Lions' fan, who apparently looked to some as if he had Down's Syndrome, "retarded" over and over? And did the person sitting behind me really need to steal my Niners' flag right out of my bag? Why not grab my wallet while you’re at it? I was definitely too busy freaking out about how awesome the Niners' looked to even notice.
Speaking of which:
2-0! 27-19 over the Lions! Do you know how many other teams are 2-0? Four.
So I’ll say it: The Niners are the real deal. I admit I doubted if we could maintain the magic of last season, but I doubt no more. I DOUBT NO MORE. (If I had a sword to wield above my head right now, I would do so, even though in many ways that makes no sense.)
From that first 49ers' drive - four plays, 67-yards, Vernon Davis touchdown - I knew we were in for a fun night of football. Yes, the Lions managed to score field goals on their next two drives (one was setup thanks to a very questionable pass interference penalty on Chris Culliver and one was a result of Kendall Hunter's fumbled kickoff return), but overall, the Lions never looked like they even had a shot at winning.
No, our offense wasn’t perfect. No one wants to see six dropped passes (though from where I was standing, most of those looked like the receivers' fault, not Alex Smith's), but ultimately those mistakes did not affect us. The bummer about them is that we were playing against a Detroit secondary weakened by injuries and that there were three in a row during the third quarter. That being said, I think Alex Smith and the receiving corps did manage for the most part to successfully prey on Detroit's injuries, as evidenced by the fact that Alex Smith completed 65% of his passes (20-for-31) and posted a 107.7 rating. Even better? He didn’t come close to throwing an interception and has now gone 216 straight passes without throwing a pick. That’s the franchise record, in case you were wondering.
But the best part of our offense last night? Definitely the two TDs to Vernon Davis and the 1-yard TD run for Frank Gore. Top that off with an excellent special teams: two Akers' field goals and I'd say the Niners don’t have to solely rely on their defense to win games anymore. Refreshing, isn’t it?
Of course, our defense is still one of the highlights of the team and just so much fun to watch. I have to say: I was impressed at how loud everyone got when the Lions had the ball. They did a great job of screaming at the top of their lungs and making sure Stafford had a difficult time communicating with his team. Even more amazing: they didn’t sit down for the entire game, which I love love love. These were not the fans of a few years ago. (Note: They still need to learn to shut the hell up when we’re on offense, but it’s baby steps with these bandwagoners and I’ll take what I can get.)
The Lions tried to run the ball, which was totally cute, but also totally ineffective. 82 rushing yards total (3.2 yards per attempt). And Stafford, who had a great season last year as I can attest since he was on my fantasy team (along with Michael Vick who I don’t even really want to talk about), only completed 19 of 32 passes for 230 yards with one touchdown that I basically don’t count since it came with 1:29 left in the game and one interception that I totally count because watching Dashon Goldson dive for and catch that ball was better than sex. Fact.
Ultimately, the 49ers did not look as formidable as they did last week in Green Bay, but they still looked pretty damn good. There is certainly room for improvement (again: those six dropped passes, Hunter’s fumble, etc.) but I sort of like that the Niners' are 2-0 but have room to improve. The most interesting development yesterday, in my opinion, is that with Arizona’s win over the Patriots, Seattle's win over Dallas, and the Rams defeat of the Redskins, the NFC West now has the best record in the league (6-2). I mean, I don’t care who you are, but I don’t think anyone saw that coming.
So we have a tough road ahead, certainly. But I feel confident we can do this, and I think the 49ers coaches and players feel the same way.
Oh, and thank you to the kind lady who gave me her flag at the end of the game after hearing me complaining that mine was stolen. "I have one from last year," she explained. I did, too, but I didn't tell her that because then I would have had to explain how I cut it up to make a 49ers cape. People already think I'm weird enough.