Here Comes San Francisco

Tearing through feeble Washington on Monday night, the 49ers looked very much like the defending NFC champs and a club that could be hitting its stride at just the right time. Plus, mailbag questions, including one that will sour some in Seattle

Aldon Smith had a big game Monday night, registering two sacks of Robert Griffin III. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Aldon Smith had a big game Monday night, registering two sacks of Robert Griffin III. (Evan Vucci/AP)

There are only a few occasions Colin Kaepernick opens up to the outside world, and early this morning, in the wake of his most encouraging performance at quarterback since opening day, wasn’t one of them. “This was a good step for us in the right direction,’’ Kaepernick said after San Francisco dismantled Washington 27-6.

He can say that again. This was a game the 49ers needed badly. They’d lost narrowly to good teams the past two weeks—Carolina and New Orleans. They’ve likely lost any realistic chance to catch Seattle in the NFC West; the 10-1 Seahawks have a three-game lead with five to play, and now the Niners have to worry about hard-charging Arizona, tied with San Francisco at 7-4 for second place in the division. But on Monday night, there were three pieces of very good news for the San Francisco playoff stretch drive:

1. Kaepernick, the embattled quarterback, was late-2012 Kaepernick. He entered the game piloting an offense with the lowest passing yards per game in the NFL. Not good for a passer Ron Jaworski said in the offseason could one day be the best ever to play. But after a slow beginning in his 21st NFL start, Kaepernick was confident, accurate and in control of the game for the final 50 minutes. He was 15 of 24 for 235 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a season-high passer rating of 134.5. He hit tight end Vernon Davis down the seam in stride for 40 yards. On the drive that put the game away in the third quarter, he threw a perfect out to backup tight end Vance McDonald while the Washington D focused on Davis. He followed on that drive with these three plays: a simple bootleg run for eight yards, knowing when not to press upfield for extra yards and absorb an extra hit; a perfectly executed surprise draw to Frank Gore; and another well-played play-action fake to Gore, followed by a one-yard throw to a wide-open Davis that left the defense flat-footed. If Kaepernick repeats this game over the next two months, the Niners will be tough to beat.

MMQB Mail

Don't miss the mailbag on Page 2, where Peter King answers readers' questions about many topics, including whether the Seahawks will be docked draft picks by the NFL for having multiple player suspensions.

2. Reinforcements are on their way. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, out since May with a partially torn Achilles, is likely to return Sunday when the Rams play at San Francisco, according to a post-game pronouncement from coach Jim Harbaugh. Very good news for a team that’s been playing with maybe the worst wide receiver depth in football in the first three months of the season. Crabtree was Kaepernick’s favorite target in 2012 and would have been this year but for an injury in off-season training. With Crabtree and Anquan Boldin (on pace for a 76-catch season) playing in tandem, there shouldn’t be any excuse for some of the feeble games this offense has been playing this season.

3. Aldon Smith found his form. He finally looked like Aldon Smith in demolishing Washington left tackle Trent Williams for most of the night. Smith had two sacks of Robert Griffin III, two additional knockdowns and was buzzing around the backfield consistently. Smith’s last sack came Week 3 against Indianapolis, and his dominating presence was missed in the two losses since his return from substance-abuse rehab; Smith played just 56 snaps in those two games. But Monday night, his full repertoire of speed and power was on display. Smith made Williams look like he was playing in slow-motion.

Lots of teams had good games in Week 12. But Monday night, San Francisco got the kind of good news on three fronts that strong playoff teams need. The 49ers are going to be a tough out in the playoffs. Presuming, of course, they can make it in a top-heavy NFC.

Now let’s head over to Page 2 for your email:

1 2NEXT VIEW AS A SINGLE PAGE
More from The MMQB
133 comments
unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

Seems like most of Peter's readers are concerned about him not giving enough attention to a particular player or team.

californiaramsfan
californiaramsfan

Rams defense will cause kap to turnover the ball multiple times and will sack him 5 time for the up set!

crazyninerfan52
crazyninerfan52

Crabtree coming back next week our offense is getting heated up. Top notch defense. Better watchout seahawks here we come

RichBich
RichBich

Kaepernick is such an unreliable QB which is on balance awful. He also has a nasty attitude. His lurch-like speech prompts me to mute my speakers whenever he starts talking.

Mark Hill
Mark Hill

The Redskins game is not an indicator of any kind of offensive improvement related to passing. Washington has one of the worst records in the NFL against the pass. The Niners have a coaching problem related having a good offensive scheme. They do not make good use of the players they have. Take the facts of Ted Ginn’s statistics of last season and compare them to this year. Last year Ginn caught two passes in thirteen games with an average yard gained of .5 yard for the Forty Niners. This year with the Panthers he has 27 catches in eleven games with an average gain of 15.6 yards. In fact, the Panthers have four receivers that presently have caught for more than 400 yards this season while the Forty Niners have only two players putting up those numbers. One might say that the Niners have been hurting for receivers but Ginn was a receiver last year and put up worthless numbers. Was that Ginn’s fault, Kaepernick’s, or coaching? It is coaching!

JC7
JC7

Kaep, had incremental improvement; but still needs to use the neck. It turns. He was not under pressure but  still missed open receivers Monday night. He has better legs and a better arm than both Montana and Young but until he expands his awareness (both backfield and cross-field) he'll never produce like they did. Hit the progressions and only then can Gore do his thing against spread linebackers. Niners have so much going right, I can't think of one single thing that is more important. This assumes of course, that Harbaugh/Roman's play calls have been so boring because they want to the good stuff for later.

PatrickMurphy
PatrickMurphy

It's a very simple problem to solve when dealing with suspended players i.e. you lose that spot on the active roster for as many games the suspension runs.

When teams have to play short handed a week, 4 weeks, a year, they'll get the message.

Douglas13
Douglas13

Nic come Coach the Ducks, the Fans will always be appreciative, so never worry about that and Uncle Phil would pay you 10,000,000 and some of the BEST Fishing and Hunting for you when you retire after a couple more Championships. 

Unforgiven_3
Unforgiven_3

Griffin is too overhyped by the media and he's too arrogant! He's definitely not what everyone makes him out to be! He's become a wanna be and that's it!

JPG
JPG

Regarding Monday Night Football - forecast is for an major artic blast coming into the Seattle area with a possibility of snow showers.

Snow showers, freezing weather, national audience, best teams in the NFL.  Can't wait.

jj55
jj55

If every Patriot DB from now until 2050 gets injured making a stupid play on an interception return, it's small compensation for the 2007 playoff upset they scored over San Diego thanks to the Magic Moment of Marlon Mental Midget McCree.

lignas
lignas

49ers is getting back Crabtree and Aldon Smith is again starting to tear it up! Go Niners!!'

Mike26
Mike26

The compliment about the Rams would mean more if they were showing ANY consistency the past two years.  They're not, so other than re-establishing Fisher's reputation of having a dirty team, I'm not seeing their improvement as much.  

MikeQ
MikeQ

Yeah, yeah, yeah.. They beat up on a really bad team and they are hitting their stride? How about waiting until the beat a decent team before making this declaration?

Jon8
Jon8

Anyone who watched that SF v REDSKINS game and thinks it showed a resurgent SF, as opposed to a flailing, rumbling, bumbling, stumbling, REDSKINS Team that will face some major issues in the off-season, has an agenda, or completely missed the takeaway story!

IrisVonStrykAtkin
IrisVonStrykAtkin

Aldon Smith's incident is far more serious than all the others combined.  ASmith was in a position to be lethal to innocent bystanders. 

FedorGaponenko
FedorGaponenko

Niners are 7-4 period. That's what they are, their record doesn't lie. I find it amusing that Peter King is getting his panties in a knot about beating the Redskins (arguably the worst team in the NFC). If Niners really want to show that they're "hitting their stride" or ready to take back the NFC West they will have to show that vs Seattle in a couple of weeks. Until then they're 7-4 vs 10-1 from Seattle. It looks like a wild card is on the horizon unless Seattle has an epic calapse

eddie767
eddie767

I'm a Skins luva,but anyone who thinks they've done something by beating them this yr is crazy. I don't know what is wrong with them,but to celebrate wins against them makes that team seem desparate. We'll be back next yr,but this yr is a wrap.

Mikd304football4life
Mikd304football4life

Y wasn't justin smiths 2 sacks considered sacks? They weren't designed runs??

mrfrogburger
mrfrogburger

Peter, you know better. The Redskins stink and the 49ers are actually pretty average. It's very easy to pass against the Redskins secondary. 

davidhd
davidhd

Everyone outside of Seattle should be hoping the league takes action, because suspensions and lost picks might be the only thing that can stop the Seahawks right now. I'm so pissed at Thurmond and Browner too. Marijuana isn't all that harmful, according to what I've read, but it's so incredibly stupid to smoke weed if you're an NFL player! It is really annoying that these guys are so selfish to do this right during the most important part of the best season in franchise history so far.

davidhd
davidhd

I'm surprised Peter King has such a strong reaction to the 49ers beat down of one of the worst teams in the NFL. I expected it from other writers, the overreaction, but I thought PK would have noticed what I did, which is that Boldin and Davis were open by 10 yards on almost every completion last night, and Kaepernick never had to even move in the pocket. 

Jim C1
Jim C1

Thank you, I have been thinking the same thing. Boldin and Davis are STARS. Now McNabb, for example, pre-T.O. had virtually no weapons.

mahaloluinoa
mahaloluinoa

I call fraud on this column.  There's no way PK wrote it, not without an unnecessary "Bing" callout.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

Kaepernick was a real QB against the worst defense in the league ... and the Niners' 27 points is LESS than the Skins have given up on average.  Every QB in the NFL can look good against this team

AllenJak
AllenJak

@californiaramsfan 

Michael Crabtree is back in action. The Niners Defense unit is solid as a rock.  This game won't be a close game at all.    It is time for the Niners to peak in December for the playoff spot.   We should expect the Niners to bury the Rams at home on this Sunday to set the tone for the next Seahawks game on Sunday, December 8, 2013.    Just sit back and enjoy the game.

Marco62
Marco62

@Douglas13 I believe Nick boy is going to Texas. He has said that he is not going anywhere, and is normally a sign that the moving van is already contacted........

ryankw
ryankw

@JPG I have a ticket to this game.  I'm very, very excited.  Go Hawks!

arthur3
arthur3

@JPG Monday night forecast we see is 43 degrees and clear skies. You relying on that BS?

Nathan16
Nathan16

Bitter much? McCree was the idiot that wouldn't just down the ball; it's not the Pats fault they stripped him and recovered the ball. Also, DRC is a Bronco's corner, not a Patriot. Just saying.

lignas
lignas

Child please Niners are now getting healthy again....the 3 winning team beat us will again see US in the playoff. It doesn't who we play. Our Defense travel and offense will improve now Crabtree is back.

Douglas13
Douglas13

@Jon8 Hey the 49ers are starting to get Healthy, and yes its the right time to get on a winning streak and do to your remark you must be a sea hawk fan, so if I were you I would worry about Drew throwing it down your gut and winning that Game, because now the way I see it is If any one wants to get to the Super Bowl in the NFC this year its through the South. So I like our Odds a lot more now that were getting everyone back Healthy and If Crabtree does indeed come back 100%, then Seattle is in trouble because our offense went from 50% to 100% and W/O your best cover guys you will look pretty bad back there and sorry but Winfield isn't the answer or he would of been playing somewhere else by now. HA HA HA !

AlexKadarauch
AlexKadarauch

@Jon8 The 49ers handled Washington the way a champ should, not the way the Seaderall seahawks slipped by Washington last year in the wildcard (by luck with RGIII getting injured). ;)  Yeahhhh, I said it :)

Douglas13
Douglas13

@FedorGaponenko Look 10-1 doesn't mean didly, If I were you FIDEL I would be talking SMACK on the Saints board because Bree's is the one thats going to be coming in on Monday night and SPANKING your DRUG TAKING SECONDARY or should I say your PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUG TAKING SECONDARY, SO If I were you you shouldn't worry about us, worry about the Team thats about to come up and give your Team its 2nd Loss and TIE the SAINT's for the BEST record in the NFC so then after we play you guys and hopefully beat the Seahawks here in 2 weeks, well then its all for nothing for your Team any ways. Any ways I like our chances now as a wild card Team a lot more than your guys, because now you guys have a GLARING WEAKNESS and thats your back field and thats not good enough to win it all.

Douglas13
Douglas13

@eddie767 OH PISS off, our Defense made you look inept after your Offense had been averaging over 450 yards of offense a Game our D held your Team to 200, so PISS OFF!

lignas
lignas

Olines was pathetic..I don't think any starters can even Niners back up players. Haha!

ngk11
ngk11

@eddie767 Youre team was Fools Gold last year and they are not anywhere close to being a good team in the future.

Nathan16
Nathan16

Salary cap will hurt your team badly over the next 2-3 years as guys come off those rookie contracts. Unless Seattle is really just flat out better at finding talent than everybody else or Wilson, Sherman, Kam, etc take huge hometown deals, Seattle will come back to the pack is fantastic fashion.

Mike26
Mike26

@davidhd Whether the league takes action or not, it appears the Seahawks are eliminating themselves/weakening their chances of a title suspension by suspension...Hawk fans shouldn't be surprised - they've drafted some gutter-level character folks ever since Schneider and Carroll took over.  It's too bad - when they're clicking, there's nobody that can beat them.  

Mike26
Mike26

@Jim C1 Boldin is fine; Davis hasn't been a "star" since Smith left and he started pulling muscles getting out of bed.

davidhd
davidhd

I agree with Robert. djbake can believe that win was impressive if he wants, but I saw 49er WRs and TEs open by 5-10 yards on most plays, and I saw a hobbled version of RG3. The Redskins are terrible, and I agree that any QB in the NFL could look impressive against them.

djbake6798
djbake6798

@RobertSmith except the Niners were up 24-6 at the end of the third quarter and they went into run out the clock don't get anyone hurt mode. .

Nathan16
Nathan16

Either of Seattle's safeties could cover Boldin while the other helps with Davis. So unless you think Crabtree can beat Sherman with one-read number 7 throwing the ball, I'm not sure how Franny's beating Seattle this year.

Nathan16
Nathan16

Not a Seahawks fan (I'd like to see them lose to the Saints) but you may be on recreational drugs if you think Franny can whip Seattle right now. Who can beat Sherman's coverage? How can you get past Thomas and Kam? It hardly even matters who the other corner is with Franny's sorry receivers. And I'm including Crabtree in that.

ryankw
ryankw

@Douglas13 @FedorGaponenko We won our last 4 games with this same backfield last year.  Maxwell and Lane would be starting on your team.  Also, BOTH the recent infractions were for pot, not PED.  Not excusing the players, but you need to get it right.

Nathan16
Nathan16

I'm guessing their the best team sitting at home for January.

MichaelYankaus
MichaelYankaus

@Nathan16:


The 49ers won the Superbowl last year, had there been a referee on the field.


So with the entire A team on the field, Seattle will not be dancing around like they did in Seattle. They might just get their first beat down of the year.


Newsletter