NEW ORLEANS – Run versus the pass. Colin Kaepernick and his five wideouts versus Frank Gore and his five offensive linemen.
Let the debate rage on.
What should the San Francisco 49ers do on a weekly basis?
How about win?
That seems to be the only essential 49ers statistic to break down after a thrilling, 27-24, overtime road victory in "The Big Easy."
Were demons exercised? Yes, a little bit. Were the 49ers in control for most of the game? Most definitely. Did they lose a big lead, fail to score a fourth-quarter touchdown in crunch time, and nearly walk out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 4-5?
San Francisco's three phases worked together to dig down deep and pull out win number five of the regular season. The offense produced a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. The defense forced a Drew Brees fumble in overtime. And special teams, Phil Dawson, kicked field goals to accentuate both key moments and give the 49ers an impressive road win.
So how big was the regular season victory?
Alex Boone said it was "by far" the best regular season win of his career.
"That was a game," Boone said in front of his locker while wearing a tank top that read, "I flexed and the sleeves fell off."
Boone and the rest of the 49ers offensive line flexed its muscles against the Saints. Going into the game, Boone said the gameplan was to establish the run against a stout New Orleans run defense.
San Francisco out-rushed New Orleans, 144 to 136. The 49ers also averaged 4.5 yards per rush and scored two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter to get out to a 14-0 lead.
The tone was set.
"We played good football," Boone said. "There's a lot of things we can clean up, but at the end of the day, that's what football is all about. That was a fist-fight.
"This is what we said we're always going to do and we did it. G-Ro (offensive coordinator Greg Roman) stuck to the gameplan, and everybody up front mounted up. We knew it was going to be on us this week; and we came in here and ground-and-pounded and we did a helluva job doing it."
San Francisco's passing game had its moments, too. Kaepernick completed 14 passes for 210 yards. He also completed a perfectly thrown 15-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin and famously bought enough time to launch a cross-field, 51-yard bomb to Michael Crabtree to set up the game-tying field goal.
The 49ers offensive identity continues to be a talking point in 2014. Boone, however, doesn't seem to care for the commentary.
"I don't think it was stuff that was said," the veteran guard said of outside critiques. "I think it was on us. We just knew we had to go. Outside sources will remain outside sources and nobody will really care. As an offensive line, we knew we had to step up this game, and we knew we had to step up for the rest of the season if we want to get to where we want to go."
San Francisco showed great balance in the win. They ran the ball 32 times and threw the ball 32 times.
They also, of course, won the game.