49ers 20 - Lions 6: Hidden Nuggets

While the game was certainly dull on the offensive end, the defense provided a rather entertaining performance.  They produced numerous turnovers, and while the Lions did put together some drives, the 49ers defense stiffened up when needed and got the ball back for the offense.  The 49ers defense has had its inconsistencies at times, but when they're on, there were few defenses better this year, and the stats show it:

  • This was the fourth game in which the 49ers held their opponent without a touchdown, tying them for first with the Jets.
  • Additionally, it was the sixth time they held their opponent to 10 points or less, which is tied with the Jets and Patriots for first.
  • The defense forced six turnovers, marking the third time they forced five or more turnovers.  They are the only NFL team to force five or more turnovers in at least three games.
  • The defense has forced 23 turnovers, most in the NFL by 4.  They also lead the league with 21 forced fumbles
  • The 15 turnovers forced over the last three games are the most by a 49ers defense since 1987.
  • Ahmad Brooks forced two fumbles, tying him with Manny Lawson for most FFs by a linebacker on the season with 4
  • Takeo Spikes has 4 sacks on the season, the most for him since 2001

After the jump, we've got some of the notable offensive stats for the game, as well as post-game quotes...

The offense had its struggles, but there were still some notable performances:

Frank Gore

  • RB Frank Gore now has 1,013 rushing yards on the season, marking his 4th consecutive 1,000-yd. season. He is the only player in franchise history to record four 1,000 yd. seasons.
  • Gore tied his career-high, notching his 8th rushing TD of the season on a 1-yd. run.
  • With 152 yards from scrimmage, Gore now has 7,260 yds, from scrimmage for his career. He has moved past RB Garrison Hearst (7,139) for 6th place in franchise history.

Vernon Davis

  • TE Vernon Davis recorded his 12th TD reception of the season on a 2-yd. pass from QB Alex Smith. Davis is only the 6th TE in NFL history to register at least 12 TD receptions in a season. The NFL record is 13 TDs by TE Antonio Gates, in 2004.

Alex Smith

  • QB Alex Smith found TE Vernon Davis in the back of the end zone for his 17th TD pass of the season, setting a new career high. His previous career-high was 16 TD passes in 2006.
  • Heading into the final game of the season, Smith has already set a new single-season career high in TD passes (17) and he is on pace to set new career-highs in completion percentage (60.5) and quarterback rating (80.2).
  • The 49ers allowed just 1 sack on the day. Over the last 5 games, the team has given up 6 sacks, which is tied for the 5th-fewest in the NFL (1st in the NFC) allowed over that time span.

Career Longs

  • WR Michael Crabtree set his new career-long on a 50-yd. reception from QB Alex Smith, to help set up K Ricky Schmitt's first career field goal.
  • RB Frank Gore notched a career-long 48-yd. reception on 4th-and-1 to help set up his 1-yd. TD run. His previous career-long reception was 47 yards at Jax. on 12/18/05.

POST GAME QUOTES

San Francisco Head Coach Mike Singletary
Post-Game Quotes - December 27, 2009
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions

FINAL

Opening Statement:

"I'm very thankful for the win. I'm very thankful that everything worked the way it did. We got off to a slow start, particularly offensively. I just think it could be due to a number of things, but thankfully we got it on track and began to do some things that we needed to do. We took advantage of some of the things defensively and some of the match-ups more towards the end of the second quarter and into the third quarter. Overall, I thought the defense came out. I thought we started a little slow on defense as well and their plan was to come in and kind of, instead of running the ball or throwing the ball instead of taking it east and west as much as they could to try and get some confusion, try to get us back on our heels. After a while, we just kind of settled down and began to play the game. "

On what he said to the players at halftime to get the offense to open up in the third quarter:

"I think the biggest thing at halftime... [Offensive Coordinator] Jimmy Raye just talked to the guys about executing, the thing that we had talked about all week. We had a good week's practice and we came out and we just were not in rhythm, not in sync early on. I think it was no magic or anything like that,  just come out in the second half defensively, offensively and let's just execute and do the things that we did all week."

On what was the cause of the slow start:

"Whatever they might be, I don't know. I have to look at the film to get a better look at it. You know, could be because of distractions of the holidays and could be you're still in a funk about not playing for the play offs. Could be any number of things, but I think the bottom line is we came out in the second half and picked it up, and got going, and began to execute, and created some things."

On his thought process when he went for it on fourth-and-one in the third quarter:

"Well, I thought the defense had begun to get in rhythm a little bit. I think we had sort of figured out what they were trying to do and feeling pretty confident defensively. I felt that it was... Our [offensive line], I just talked to them about being able to execute on fourth-and-one if I go there again. So it just seemed like it was a good time to do it.

On whether there was an emphasis going into this game to get RB Frank Gore to 1,000 yards:

"It was not in my realm of thinking. I think we went into this game not knowing what Detroit was going to do, because they're still trying to figure out their defense and how they want to approach it, if they're going to go more linebackers or more [defensive line]. So, we really didn't know. I think Jimmy Raye, once we got a little bit in a rhythm and felt like we could do it, then you wanted to go to Frank."

On whether he tells Jimmy Raye to call play action on fourth-and-one:

"No, once again, I want to make it very clear. When a situation arises, particularly in a fourth-and-one, it's just telling Jimmy, giving him a heads up at third-and-one. ‘You know, Jimmy, we're in a place right now, we can get to fourth-and-one. Just know, that you got two downs to get where we need to go.' And that's about all I'm going to tell him, unless we're really out of sync and I just kind of bring him back. But, for the most part, he called it, and he made that play, and it worked out well."

On how he would classify the offensive play given the opponent:

"I know, you can say, ‘given the opponent' and all the other stuff. You lose a game and all of the sudden they're a great team. I just think it's just important... The most important thing that happened is we came out in the second half and we picked it up. I think it works really bad if it works the other way around, you click it in the first half they come in, make adjustments, and you come out in the second half and you can't move the ball. So, I think it was more us not executing in the first half. We did execute better in the second half and I think that was the difference."

On whether QB Alex Smith gave up a rushing touchdown to pass it to WR Vernon Davis:

"I need to get both of them in a room and lock the door and find out if [WR] Vernon [Davis] had talked to him and told him he needed another touchdown or something like that. Because Ale

TE Vernon Davis
Post-Game Quotes - December 27, 2009
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions

On the win today:

"It's good to get this win. We've kind of been in a hole the past couple weeks. We climbed back out of it and I know my teammates are happy. I'm happy and we've got one game left and I look forward to playing this game."

On his touchdown catch:

"I was thinking [QB Alex Smith] was going to throw it to me and he did. Thank you Alex, I appreciate it."

On how unselfish Smith is:

"He is a very unselfish person. He cares about others. He's always there when you need him and he's a great guy to have around and a great quarterback to keep building with."

On Smith throwing it because of the records Davis is approaching:

"He's not one of those guys that is selfish. He'd rather throw a completion rather than score himself, I'm sure. That's how Alex has always been."

x came to the sideline and I was scratching my head and he knew what I was going to say and he just said, ‘coach, be nice. Be nice.' Next time, just dive in or something, just run. But I'll figure that one out."

On whether that is something he likes to see in a quarterback:

"It all depends on what the answer is. I am going to do that. I want to know what the heck was he thinking, because if you got it, take it. But anyways, I'm hoping that that's what happened. I'm hoping."

On what the correct answer is for that situation:

"'Coach, Vernon was bending my arm, twisting my arm and really wanted me to... something.' I can live with that. I hope that's the answer."

On what he thinks of QB Alex Smith's performance:

"I think the first thing I got to do is look at the film and evaluate if there were some plays out there that he possibly could have made. But I thought he made good decisions. I thought his judgment was good. He did make some plays, and pretty gutsy plays a couple of times. So I thought he was pretty consistent, nothing great, but consistent. He took care of the football, for the most part. So, that was a big plus."

On whether there was a theme to Alex's badly thrown balls:

"No. We just have to clear guys out of the way. I think sometimes you play teams defensive, that they go, ‘1,001. 1,002. 1,003. Get your hands up and bat down the ball.' And when the defense does that, if they're not getting the kind of pressure that they want, it happens, unless the offensive line starts cutting the guys. So, that's normally the way that works."

On whether creating turnovers will be a trademark of this defense:

"Well, hopefully that will be a trademark of any defense that we have, because I think you can't really achieve the things that you want to achieve as a defense unless you begin to take away the ball. That's when games turn around. It really makes a difference. When you look at any game that we've played and won this year, there's a pretty good chance that we won the turnover ratio."

S Dashon Goldson
Post-Game Quotes - December 22, 2009
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions

On winning the game:

"I wouldn't call it an ugly win, but it wasn't the best win and I'll take it. We did a good job of coming out in the second half and making plays and forcing three-and-outs on defense. That's what we talked about this week, playing fast and playing good football."

On whether he is playing his best football of the year:

"I am never satisfied with my play. There is always room for improvement, but I know I'm playing good football. I am playing smart and I'm trying to do the right things and I have to continue that to next year. I'm trying to finish out the season strong."

On the six turnovers forced by the defense:

"Those turnovers came at the right time, but at the same time, we didn't play up to our expectations and at the level I know we can play at. However, we did turn it up in the second half and we forced turnovers."

RB Frank Gore
Post-Game Quotes - December 27, 2009
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions

On what it means to him to have a fourth straight season with 1,000 yards rushing:

"It means a lot. Like you said, it was an up and down season. I missed a couple of games. It was tough. It was a tough year. It's a blessing. I've got to give it all to my o-line. They did a great job. My receivers downfield, they blocked well. I just stayed positive and kept fighting, but it's a blessing."

On whether he had an idea during the game that he had 1,000:

"I just heard it over, when they said it over the loud-speaker, and I said, ‘I'm trying to get more.' It was a tough game. We got the win and that's all that matters right now."

On the importance of finishing 8-8:

"That would be great. Since I've been here, the best record I had was 7-9. Even though I feel that me and my boys in the locker room, we should have been - we had a great chance to get to the playoffs, and it didn't happen. We're taking a step forward to get the win next week."

On the feeling at halftime being up only 6-3:

"I'm going to take my hat off to [the Lions]. They played great. They played very hard. They were just making plays, and things weren't going right for us. It was just making plays. We came in at halftime and we told ourselves that in the second half, just dig deeper - and that's what we did."

On whether he asked for more touches:

"I just wanted to - whatever it took to get the win, that's all I was thinking about."

On the key to making the fourth-and-short at midfield:

"Everybody has got to do their job. You're talking about the one we didn't get right?"

On the long pass play on fourth down:

"[QB] Alex [Smith] just told me to get out. He was going to look for me. I did a great play fake. They bit and then they dropped back. I saw them turn their back and I just leaked out and Alex threw me the ball."

On his thoughts on the offense in the last few games:

"The last few games, I think we've shown that we've got a lot of playmakers. We can do both. We can throw. We can run. Next year, just watch all the film this offseason, and we've just got to bring it together. We've got a lot of playmakers. We've just have got to bring it as one."

On whether he likes how he's been used the last few games:

"Yes I do, I really do."

On how important it was for the defense to get the ball back to the offense:

"It was real big. The defense played great. They got the ball. When they got the ball, we were up. So, we didn't really have to press and think about, ‘We've got to do this. We've got to do that.' We just told ourselves that we have to take it one play at a time."

On whether this season has been tougher than the past two years:

"Yes, it's very tough because the locker room, the coaching staff, we know what type of guys and we know that we're a playoff team. When we look back and see that we hurt ourselves, all the games on the road that we lost by three to seven points, that hurts. But, we're going to move on. We're going to take a step, try to get this win and finish on a good note, 8-8."

LB Manny Lawson
Post-Game Quotes - December 27, 2009
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions

On winning the final home game of the year:

"It feels good to win our last home game of the year. It is sad that we didn't make it to the playoffs, but you can see that we still care. We can still do good things this year."

On what the team is trying accomplish in the final week of the season:

"It is a pride issue. We really want to do the best we can and show our fans out there that even though we didn't make it to the playoffs this year, next year we are going to."

K Ricky Schmitt
Post-Game Quotes - December 27, 2009
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions

On how his first game in the NFL went:

"It was great. I can't thank God enough for the opportunity and for Coach Singletary and [Offensive Coordinator] Coach Everest for having faith in me. It was great to get my first regular season game under my belt. It went great and I didn't have anything to worry about. The blocking was great. The snaps by [LS Brian Jennings] were great. The holds by [P] Andy [Lee] all day were great. [K] Joe [Nedney] was on the sideline all day, helping me out. He was a great guy, giving me pointers, helping me stay calm."

On how he felt on his first kick:

"It was exciting. I was more excited than nervous, so going out there it was great knocking that first one through."

QB Alex Smith
Post-Game Quotes - December 27, 2009
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions

On the slow start to the first half:

"You know I have not looked at the film. I actually didn't think it was a slow start, except for the scoreboard. I actually thought we were doing some good things, moving the ball. It seemed like every time we got into the red zone, we kicked the two field goals. We didn't convert on the fourth-and-inches and we missed the field goal. All of a sudden, if you convert one or two of those, it's a completely different game. I didn't feel like we were inept or anything. I just felt like we were just struggling to finish any of those drives, which you know we came in at 6-3. That was the difference in the second half. We finished off two drives and the game became out of reach."

On the short toss to TE Vernon Davis in the end zone:

"You know when I first came out, my eye, in my mind, was on that edge player there. I didn't know if I turned my back to him, if he was coming or dropping off. When I wheeled it off into the fake, my initial thought, just with his body language, was to take off to the pylon. That's what I did at first. The joke is that I could've walked in, but it kind of seemed like he bluffed it and that he was going to come at me, and then he went back into coverage and came again. We'll see what it looks like on film."

On if he purposely passed to Vernon to help him break his record:

"Nothing besides that he paid me before, that's it."

On whether being smacked around by LB LaVar Arrington in his rookie year influenced his decision:

"There is one story from year two. We were playing Seattle, and I went rolling out on a very similar play. I dove and scored a touchdown on the pylon, but I think [TE] Eric Johnson was wide open in the end zone waving his arms around, but I saw a pylon and just went for it. I remember watching film the next day and getting told, touchdown passes are a little more valuable."

On whether he knew how close he was to the line of scrimmage:

"I guess, to tell you the honest truth, it was kind of going. We were on the two and I knew your whole body had to be over the line and I obviously wasn't in the end zone. As soon as I threw it though, I'm not going to lie, the voice in my head was like, ‘I hope that was good' and luckily it was."

On having a game with no turnovers:

"Yes it was. I think we struggled there in the end. We had the one fumble and the close call on the flat route - a guy made a play on it. I think it's something we need to get better at."

On the play of the defense:

"It's nice knowing you don't have to press. I think that was nice. If we're in another situation, if you don't covert some of the first half possession like we did, the game can get away from you. The way the defense was playing it was keeping us in and giving us great opportunities and great field position - a lot today. Those are things we need to capitalize on."

On going for it on fourth-and-one:

"Obviously it was a gutsy call there- we're going for it. Its fourth-and-one. We're taking a shot and we kind of have done that a couple times in the past. They have shown that on fourth-and-one. [I was] yelling at [RB] Frank [Gore] to get out for me. If he wasn't there, sure enough the guy kind of played high on [WR] Josh [Morgan] when he was in there."

On whether RB Frank Gore was unavailable:

"Throw it away, scramble, do something. You know. It's a one man route. We were mid-field so I wasn't necessary going to force a ball. Not a two point play and we were in the end zone. A throw away was better than potential return yardage so I was just reading it out. Take a shot down the middle. The corner played high on it. I knew Frank - we had a good run fake, hopefully he could sneak through there and he could, he did and had a good play on the ball."

On if he could see the spot on the long line:

"No I saw it. He kind of got hit as I was throwing it. Luckily, it didn't affect the flight of the ball."

On Coach Urban Meyer's leave of absence:

"I have not talked to coach I didn't get to see any of the press conference that happened today. Obviously, I was thinking a lot about him last night and this morning. He's someone that I remain close with and I still think a lot about. I will talk to him very shortly here but I don't want to go into anything right now."

On the importance of finishing .500:

"I think it's a matter of pride. That's what we're playing for right now. We haven't finished better than 7-9 since I've been here. I think it's something we're all playing for. Every game means something. Finish off the year. It will be the last taste in our mouth coming up. Finish on a good note."

On evaluating his performance:

"We'll look at the film. We did some good things. I think we missed some clear opportunities there, especially in the first half. Those four opportunities - we were in the red zone, the high red area there. Kicked two field goals, missed the fourth-down conversion and then missed another field goal. We've got to score touchdowns there, and I think that's where we - normally, we've been pretty good in that area in the course of the season. We didn't get it done there, especially in the first half. I think that's not only me, but the offense as well. We need to improve that."

On the long pass to WR Michael Crabtree:

"Never came that open during the week, I'll tell you that. I rolled out there and, initially my thought was to check the edge. I was trying to check the edge for pressure because if there was pressure, I had to deal it underneath. Luckily there wasn't, and it was clean. He broke open. It was kind of one of those things that I tried to get it out there to him. I didn't want to make - it's like a lay-up. You don't want to necessarily make that too difficult on him, and it was probably a combination of a little underthrown and the bobble and it's not a touchdown. So, we'll look at it."

LB Takeo Spikes
Post-Game Quotes - December 27, 2009
San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions

On winning the game:

"It feels good to get a win, especially after what we went through last week. At this point we aren't playing for the playoffs, but we are playing for something leading into next year so it is always good to get the win."

On what the team is playing for right now:

"We are trying to be a dominating defense but sometimes we tend to be inconsistent. Regardless of whatever is happening on the offensive side of the ball, we go out there with the mindset of, ‘I don't care if they get the ball on the one, at the worst they are going to get three points.' That's what I like, and I think the reason why it is so addicting is because we have flirted around with showing greatness at times. When we do that, it is so addicting and we want to come back with it one more week, one more week."

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