A championship team has to meet all the challenges, and the 49ers met a big one by getting out of their comfort zone Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 49ers had been playing their usual conservative game — throwing short passes, running Frank Gore, kicking field goals — instead of going boldly for touchdowns and relying on their defense and special teams. Read More
The first matchup between two 10-win teams on “Monday Night Football” since 1997 turned into a defensive battle that even the stadium got involved in as the 49ers earned a 20-3 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The turning point was a sack by Aldon Smith and a fumble recovery by Justin Smith on the Pittsburgh 17-yard line with 11:30 left in the fourth quarter.
A penalty on fourth down by the Steelers gave the 49ers (11-3) an extra life and San Francisco capitalized with a 5-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore to give San Francisco the 20-3 lead, which held up. Read More
It took the playoff-bound 49ers, who have failed in the red zone more often than not lately, a trip to the Arizona desert Dec. 11 to finally get burned.
But it will be on the gridiron’s biggest stage tonight at Candlestick Park against the Pittsburgh Steelers where San Francisco will, once again, try to right its red-zone wrongs.
Last week’s 21-19 downer against the division-rival Cardinals marked more than San Francisco’s third defeat this season. Read More
Jim Harbaugh was talking about criticism, conceding when the 49ers lose, there will be second-guessing.
“The whys for what happened,” he calls it. The worry is not what happened, but what didn’t happen, with the 49ers unable to get a victory.
“They’re the hunted now,” Harbaugh said of his Niners, after winning the division, surprising everyone — except maybe the Niners themselves — and compiling a record tied for second-best in the NFL.
The hunted, and seeking explanations, looking not so much for excuses, but reasons. Read More
Jim Harbaugh attempted to stay positive this week following the 49ers’ second loss in the past three games, but realizes his team still has much left to improve on.
“We didn’t take as much of an advantage on turnovers, opportunities in the red zone,” Harbaugh said of the team’s 21-19 loss to the Cardinals. “And we’ll address that with our guys.”
One issue that has reared its head of late is pass protection. Part of San Francisco’s struggles have come from its inability to protect quarterback Alex Smith on the road. Read More
The question arose again on an afternoon when the Niners once more had trouble scoring touchdowns and the Raiders simply had trouble playing football: What if San Francisco had selected Aaron Rodgers with the first pick in the 2005 NFL draft?Growing up in Chico, playing for Cal — where he once completed 23 straight passes against USC — Rodgers was a 49er fan. That the 49ers — specifically coach Mike Nolan — chose Alex Smith and Rodgers slipped to 24th, taken by Green Bay, always may haunt San Francisco. Read More
John Skelton was awful against San Francisco a month ago. This time was a far different story.Skelton stepped in for the injured Kevin Kolb and threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns, and the Arizona Cardinals rallied to hand the San Francisco 49ers their third loss of the season, 21-19 on Sunday.Larry Fitzgerald had seven catches for 149 yards, including a 46-yarder for a touchdown and a 53-yarder to set up the go-ahead score in the fifth victory in six games for Arizona (6-7), which ended a five-game losing streak against the 49ers. Read More
Call it the best football team San Francisco has produced in a very long while, but the road into and through the postseason is one that is not over for the current 10-2 49ers. In clinching the franchise’s first NFC West Division title since 2002 last week, a dangerous pattern of failing to convert red-zone appearances into touchdowns and merely settling for field goals has ensued. Read More
So the Niners are less than perfect in the red zone, which is football newspeak to describe when a team is within the opponent’s 20-yard line. And they rank 24th in the NFL in offense. Yet, only one team has a better record, so what’s the problem?
That they get field goals instead of touchdowns? When the other team doesn’t score, as the St. Louis Rams didn’t score Sunday, at the moment, that’s only a trifle. Now when they face the Packers ... Read More
As the game clock ticked to zero Sunday at Candlestick Park, the feat hadn’t quite sunk in for 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
“It’ll probably sink in when I get home. I’ve never been in the playoffs,” Crabtree said after helping his team secure the NFC West Division title after routing the St. Louis Rams 26-0. “It’s something new for me. I can’t wait.” Read More