The 49ers’ 20-3 win over Pittsburgh on Monday night had great individual performances, but the combined efforts of the three Smiths carried the day and Jim Harbaugh had high praise for the trio Tuesday.
Alex Smith threw for 187 yards on 18-for-31 passing and Harbaugh said he is not only a Pro Bowler, but his quarterback of the future.
“There are some people that are just concerned with statistics,” Harbaugh said. “He’s the consignment team player. The only thing that matters is winning.”
What has impressed Harbaugh most has been Smith’s ability to hold on to the ball while being sacked, especially when there is no drill to prepare for it.
“He’s also been uncanny in the pocket,” Harbaugh said. “If he’s been hit or sacked, not giving up the sack-fumble. … He’s been outstanding in that regard.”
Smith has 2,752 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. The five interceptions are among the fewest in the NFL for starters, but he only ranks 15th in touchdown passes.
“There’s a body of work,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a lot more that goes into the position of quarterback than [statistics].”
Aldon Smith picked up 2½ sacks against the Steelers, bringing his season total to 13 and setting a team record for sacks by a rookie.
“Aldon has separated himself as a pass rusher in his first year in the league,” Harbaugh said.
But Harbaugh said the team’s most valuable player has been Justin Smith.
“He kicked a–,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been doing it all year.”
Justin Smith has played a key role in the 49ers’ streak of 15 straight games without allowing a rushing touchdown, an NFL record.
“It’s remarkable,” Harbaugh said. “We don’t talk a lot about it here, but I think our guys take a lot of pride in it. It’s a big goal to stop the run.”
They also became the first team to not allow a rushing touchdown in the first 14 games of a season.
“There’s a lot of individual play that needs to be highlighted,” Harbaugh said.
The Niners face another quick turnaround this week, having to travel to Seattle for its Saturday game against the surging Seahawks (7-7), who have won five of their past six games.
“For us, the expectations are to have a good day today,” Harbaugh said. “Have a great week at practice this week. Do everything we can do to win the next game.”
The game means a lot to both teams with Seattle needing it to stay alive in the playoff race and the 49ers needing it to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints for a first-round bye.
The Niners can secure a first-round bye with a win and a New Orleans loss to Atlanta on Monday night.
49ers (11-3)at Seahawks (7-7)
WHEN: Saturday, 1:15 p.m.
WHERE: CenturyLink Field, Seattle
TV: Fox (KTVU, Ch. 2)
RADIO: KNBR (680 AM), KSAN (107.7 FM)