If ever a final score told the tale of the game, this one does. A 13-8 final score in football is fairly ugly and this game was an incredibly ugly affair. The bad news is that the team struggled in many facets of the game throughout. They struggled running the ball for a good chunk of the game. The passing game took time to develop. The defense had some tough moments where Andy Dalton chewed them up (although they bounced back STRONG).
And in spite of all that, the good news is what matters: The 49ers are 2-1 with only their fifth non-division road win since 2003. The 49ers know they have work to do, but getting that W is huge. The 49ers face a tough stretch coming up with games against the Eagles, Bucs and Lions before the bye. Michael Vick broke his right non-throwing hand today so it remains to be seen whether he'll play. I'm not sure how a cast or brace would work in that case.
We'll have plenty to break down but for now, on offense I'd say Kendall Hunter and Alex Smith were your players of the game. Hunter came on after Frank Gore's fumble and Hunter showed the speed and explosion that has so many people excited about him. It will be interesting to see how the 49ers use him behind Gore next week.
I suggest Alex Smith as a co-player of the game because he quietly put together an effective passing attack when the 49ers needed it most. He was 20-for-30 for 201 yards but he made some big passes throughout the second half to get the 49ers in position to score. It wasn't a pretty performance much of the game, but it was effective late.
The defense looked ready to struggle early as Andy Dalton marched down the field on the opening drive before the defense stiffened up and held the Bengals to a field goal. The Bengals would add another field goal but even that came on an incredibly shortened field. Even with the 100-yard rusher streak extended, the 49ers defense got pressure late and forced Andy Dalton to make two big errors that cost the Bengals a chance to at least force overtime. We'll take it every time.
It wasn't pretty, but the 49ers are 2-1. They've got a tough schedule coming up, but with the win they've got a little positive momentum and something to build on. It's certainly better than the alternative.