The Booth Review – 49ers vs. Bills: “Smith soars, sets records”

Jason O. Watson - Getty Images

Welcome to The Booth Review where the 49ers Faithful can expect a weekly retelling and analysis of the game – Who were the star performers? Who dropped the ball? What went well, and what needs to get better? You can find all of those things along with my random musings right here, every week.

On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers blew up the Buffalo Bills by a score of 45-3, winning by a wide margin for the second straight week.

"Very pleased. Very pleased with our guys," said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. "Good football. Good team victory. And a lot of plays made. Felt really good for the receivers. Thought they did an outstanding job. Quarterback was near perfect."

Alex Smith finished the day with 303 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. It was only the third time in Smith's career that he passed for over 300 yards and his first time doing so in a victory. Smith posted a QB Rating of 156.2% - near perfect, indeed.

To supplement the prolific passing attack, San Francisco's running back committee continues to produce on the ground. Frank Gore rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown, and Kendall Hunter contributed 81 yards of his own.

The team's combined 621 yards of total offense - 311 on the ground and 310 through the air - is the most in franchise history. Eat your heart out, Joe Montana.

"Yeah, it's crazy, I didn't know that until the end there when they said it," said Smith after the game. "When you think of the 49ers, you think of great offense, so this is quite an honor. It's great to be with those guys."

Tight end Vernon Davis also recognizes that he and his teammates are in good company.

"We're talking about legends that played here," said Davis. "Legends...Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice...to be able to perform at this level, and do it better than what they did, that's a huge honor, a huge honor."

Both Davis and receiver Michael Crabtree went over the century mark in receiving yards. The last time the 49ers had two 100-yard receivers in a single game was October 10th, 2010 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Coincidentally, those two receivers were Davis and Crabtree.

Crabtree also grabbed his first touchdown reception of the season as did fellow receivers Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams.

"We've got athletes, we've got playmakers," said Crabtree. "We just have to use them, we've got to create that identity. We can't talk about it, we've just got to go do it."

After shutting out the New York Jets last Sunday, the 49ers defense put on another strong performance holding the Bills to a single field goal and just 204 yards of total offense.

"We pride ourselves on getting the ball, getting takeaways," said linebacker Patrick Willis, who forced a fumble in the second quarter. "For the most part, we played good team defense. If we can continue to do that, do our assignments...it sets us up with a good opportunity to help our team win."

Willis watched the offense's record-breaking day from the sidelines and wants the bar to be raised even higher.

"Our offense came out today," said Willis. "Now they know they're capable of doing it, so now it's about always trying to reach a new level, and I know our offense will continue to do that."

THE SPOTLIGHT

-- QB Alex Smith - 18/24, 303 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, 156.2% QB Rating

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CAPTION: SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 07: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Candlestick Park on October 7, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Were you expecting someone else?

Alex Smith played arguably the best regular season game of his career. You could tell he was starving for a game like this for a while. Into the fourth quarter, despite leading by four possessions, Smith was still getting fired up about offensive penalties and miscues.

Smith admitted in a pregame interview that he's got a lot of mouths to feed in regards to offensive weapons, but he did a great job of distributing the ball. As previously mentioned, Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams, and Mario Manningham all had their first touchdown receptions of the season.

Many had reservations about Smith's ability or willingness to throw the ball down the field. However, Smith had eight passes of 15 or more yards, and three passes of 40 or more yards (not including two that were negated by penalties). He also scrambled for 49 yards to remind everyone that Colin Kaepernick isn't the only mobile quarterback on the team.

THE HOT SEAT

-- Special teams -

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CAPTION: DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16: Assistant head coach Brad Seely of the San Francisco 49ers argues with officials after a touchdown by Brandon Pettigrew #87 of the Detroit Lions in the second quarter during the game at Ford Field on October 16, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The 49ers' special teams coverage unit struggled mightily on Sunday.

On the Bills' first punt return, Leodis McKelvin had an 80-yard return for a touchdown, but fortunately for the 49ers, the return was nullified by a holding penalty of Jairus Byrd. After David Akers scored a field goal and kicked off to the Bills, McKelvin - again - torched the 49ers' coverage team. If it wasn't for a great hustle play by Tramaine Brock to catch him from behind, McKelvin would have been gone.

I have to wonder if the 49ers' special teams woes have anything to do with the losses of Blake Costanzo and Colin Jones. Despite being integral special teams contributors last season, both were let go this offseason - Costanzo to Chicago and Jones to Carolina.

Another special teams bungle in the third quarter could have been disastrous. Buffalo punted to San Francisco's 34-yard line, and Tramaine Brock, blocking for Ted Ginn, inadvertently touched the ball. Ginn, realizing what happened, got tangled up and barely fell onto the ball in time.

The 49ers received a lot of breaks against the Bills, but they won't always be so lucky.

THE WATER COOLER

"The politics of football"

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As we know, the New York Jets received a 34-0 shellacking at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. The very next day, Jets owner Woody Johnson made an appearance on Bloomberg Television, a business and financial news network based out of New York City.

"Now, what is a bigger priority to you right now," started Stephanie Ruhle, a Bloomberg anchor. "A winning season for the Jets or a winning election for Mitt Romney?"

In addition to owning the Jets, Johnson is also the chairman of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's New York campaign.

"Well I think you always have to put country first," said Johnson. "So I think it's very, very important that for - not only us - but in particular for our kids and grandkids that this election come off with Mitt Romney and [Paul] Ryan as president and vice president."

Say what?

Johnson's response wasn't overtly incorrect; I actually agree with the first part. Yes, political matters concerning the wellbeing of our country are more important than any sport. However, here is where I take issue with what he said: I am a team fan (and sometimes a critic). Johnson is a team owner.

If I had a few million dollars to drop on a sports franchise, I know it would be in my best interests to promote my product and assure the thousands of season ticket holders of my unwavering commitment to win. Basically saying, "I think I'd rather see success from ______ than my own team," is the best way to achieve the complete opposite.

Johnson probably offended a myriad of democratic Jets fans with his comments, but that's beside the point. Hell, I'm a registered democrat, and if Jed York said a Barack Obama victory would mean more to him than a 49ers Super Bowl win, I'd have to wonder, how much does he really care about this football team?

It's not an issue of party affiliation; it's an issue of common sense. Keep your politics out of my football.

"Mrs. Patrick Willis"

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Atta boy!

Our favorite linebacker has fallen in love. This past Saturday, Patrick Willis asked girlfriend Shenae Saifi to be his wife. The couple made their engagement publicly-known via Twitter.

I had no idea Patrick was even seeing anyone, and I feel intrusive creeping on Shenae's Twitter (I could never work for TMZ), but from what I'm able to gather, she seems lovely, and she's ridiculously gorgeous. It's only fitting that the NFL's best linebacker fetches the prettiest lady.

Be sure to send Patrick some kind words and congratulations. His Twitter handle is @PatrickWillis52.

"When fans go too far"

Winston_medium

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was injured against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and subsequently left the game. Cassel took a shot from Ravens defensive end Haloti Ngata and linebacker Paul Kruger before falling onto the ground. As Cassel laid there being tended to by trainers, some Chiefs fans began to cheer. Were they cheering because Brady Quinn was warming up on the sidelines, or because Matt Cassel was lying on the ground? Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston believes it was the latter and made sure reporters were listening by his locker after the game.

"We are athletes. We're not gladiators. This isn't the Roman Coliseum," began Winston. "People pay their hard earned money to come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer, they can do whatever they want...But when you cheer somebody getting knocked out...it's sickening. It's 100% sickening. I've never, ever - I've been in some rough times on some rough teams - I've never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there."

The full audio of Winston's rant can be found here:

Eric Winston on Chiefs fans

This isn't the first documented incident where the ‘fan experience' crossed the line. In 1999, when the Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Dallas Cowboys at old Veterans Stadium, Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin was tackled and went head-first into the turf. Lying motionless on the field, Irvin was eventually wheeled away on a stretcher to the cheers and applause of Eagles fans.

Does the price of admission justify jeering at injured players? What's the difference between rooting for a big hit and rooting for the injury that follows? I'll reserve my thoughts for now and let you sound off in the comments section below.

Next Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers face the New York Giants who came into Candlestick Park this past January and defeated the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

Alex Smith and his teammates haven't forgotten.

"There's a lot of baggage, a lot of history," said Smith. "A little unfinished business, I guess."

Follow Anthony Ly on Twitter: @TheBellamores

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