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49ers Produce Historic 45-3 Win

Posted Oct 7, 2012

The San Francisco 49ers did something on Sunday that’s never been done before in the proud history of the National Football League.

In the team’s 45-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills at Candlestick Park, San Francisco became the first club in league history to rush and pass for more than 300 yards in the same game.

At 4-1, the 49ers also broke the franchise’s record for most yards in a single game, eclipsing the 598-yard mark they posted on the Bills on Sept. 13, 1992.

“I thought we executed extremely well,” Jim Harbaugh said after his team reached unprecedented balance – 311 rushing yards and 310 passing yards – good for a 621-yard showing against the Bills (2-3). “Our receivers were really getting open and doing a fine job of running strong, there were some fabulous catches made. They ran good routes and they were getting it going.”

In actuality, Fleet Week continued Sunday at Candlestick Park. With the Blue Angels taking up most of the region’s attention through airborne stunts along the bay throughout the weekend, Alex Smith continued the aerial entertainment in the team’s one-sided victory over Buffalo.

“Alex was really on the money all day,” Harbaugh said of his quarterback, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns to go with no turnovers and a 156.2 quarterback rating.

Smith also passed the 300-yard mark for the first time under Jim Harbaugh, doing so thanks to his 237-yard performance in the first half alone. Smith finished the half with a perfect 158.3 rating, too. The only negative on the day was a late-game injury to one of Smith’s fingers. Harbaugh after the game called it “just a sprain.”

Way before the finger issue late in the game, Smith got the 49ers up to a 17-3 halftime lead with a pair of touchdown passes, a 43-yard score to Kyle Williams and a 28-yard pass to Michael Crabtree.

Crabtree finished the game with a team-high six catches for 113 yards and his first touchdown reception of the season.

The key first-half score, however, was a result of dominant defensive play by Patrick Willis and company. San Francisco surrendered no points after committing an uncharacteristic turnover in the red zone.  Second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick fumbled the ball while being hit on an end around carry inside Buffalo’s 20. Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus recovered the loose ball with 49 seconds left in the half to stop San Francisco’s chances of adding to its first-half lead.

Or so they thought.

Instead of kneeling on the ball and going into the half down seven points, Buffalo elected to move the ball through the air. It turned out to be a costly mistake.

The 49ers got possession right back when Willis stripped Bills tight end Scott Chandler inside of Buffalo territory. Consequently, the ball trickled right over to safety Dashon Goldson who recovered and returned the fumble five yards to Buffalo’s 28-yard line with 29 seconds in the first half.

San Francisco scored right away on Smith’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, who surpassed the 100-yard mark with his touchdown grab in the front left corner of the end zone. At that point, Crabtree had 103 receiving yards, a career-high in the first half of a game.

“Big change there,” Smith said of the defense’s first of two takeaways on the day. “I think it was a huge point in the game. To get the turnover, to get the seven points to go in 17-3 versus 10-6 is a big difference.”

In total, San Francisco out-gained Buffalo 320 to 123 in the first half alone. Soon after, the home team maintained its production throughout the 60-minute game. When it was all said and done, the 49ers picked up 29 first downs compared to 10 for the Bills.

Afterwards, players wondered if penalties cost them even more points and production. Seven penalties for 53 yards wiped away several big plays in the game.

“I’m just happy to get the win,” left tackle Joe Staley after the offensive line allowed no sacks on the day. “Everybody was executing – doing their job. We played good team football on offense and defense… It was a good team win, but we have a big game next week, so we’ll get ready for that.”

The 49ers maintained their dominance into the third quarter when Ahmad Brooks registered the only sack of the day on the Bills’ opening drive of the second half.

With the ball, Frank Gore picked up a 31-yard run on the ground, good for his largest single rush of the season. Kaepernick followed it with a 15-yard keeper to set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Gore.

The back-breaking drive saw the 49ers go 66 yards in five plays to score on Gore’s 1-yard touchdown leap over the top of the pile. San Francisco led 24-3 at that point and the offensive production seemed to only continue.

“(Offensive coordinator Greg Roman) G-Ro did a great job of putting us in great situations,” said Gore, who picked up his 31st career 100-yard rushing game with a game-high 14 rushes for 106 yards. “The O-line did a great job. I have to give all the credit to them. I just ran the ball, they did everything.”

The offensive line paved the way for three rushing touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. By game’s end, the unit led the way for 311 rushing yards on 38 carries, good for 8.2 yards per rush.

“We had them off-balance,” Gore added. “You have to give a ton credit to the coordinator; coach G-Ro did a great job. We play hard as a team. Every man was out there for each other.”

After Buffalo got back into 49ers territory and red zone, becoming the seventh drive against the 49ers all season to make it inside the team’s 20-yard line, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the game’s only interception to second-year 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver.

Smith and the 49ers responded to the takeaway with another crushing drive. This time, it was a 13-play, 94-yard scoring drive finished off by Smith with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham for his first touchdown with the club.

With the score 31-3 late midway through the fourth quarter, the 49ers tacked on two more rushing touchdowns to complete the 45-3 drubbing.

Kaepernick rushed in from 16 yards out and backup runner Anthony Dixon plowed his way in from three yards out to make it a 45-3 final.

With the win, the 49ers improved to 4-1 for a second season in a row, giving the franchise consecutive 4-1 starts for the first time since the 2001-02 seasons.

The team also improved to 5-0 overall in the month of October under Harbaugh and 3-0 at home in the month.

A historic victory like Sunday’s will stick with the 49ers throughout the night and into Monday morning, but for many inside the locker room, the win was just the latest step in reaching the ultimate destination.

“We’ve got so many weapons and we work good together,” Gore pointed out. “Our coaching staff does a great job of putting us in great situations. We’re growing, having fun out there, working for each other… We’re just growing. Every week we’re trying to get better and better and that’s happening for us.”

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