It's only getting bigger and it doesn't bode well for 49ers opponents. Alex Smith has one heck of an arsenal at his finger tips.
Each week, it seems, the 49ers passing game showcases a different star. This time, a pair of young receivers stole the show, helping the 49ers claim their eighth win in a row, a 23-7 victory over the visiting Arizona Cardinals.
Amidst the familiar scene of a lively 49ers post-game locker room, Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams sported some of the biggest smiles of all. While Crabtree was busy stretching the field and moving the chains, the shifty Williams gashed the Cardinals defense from his spot in the slot. The result: a combined 12 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown.
"We have so many playmakers in this offense," Williams said. "It's just a matter of whoever's number is called. You got to make a play when it's your turn."
No. 15 (Crabtree) and No. 10 (Williams) had their numbers called often on Sunday.
Crabtree racked up a season-high 120 yards on seven catches, while Williams had a career day, hauling in five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Entering Sunday, Williams had five catches for 50 yards in 12 NFL games.
For Crabtree, it didn't matter that he fell just two yards short of his career-high or that he did it against one of the most promising young corners in the game, Arizona rookie Patrick Peterson. What matters is the 49ers are 9-1 and are knocking on the door of the playoffs. And it's not even Thanksgiving yet.
"The sky is the limit," Crabtree said.
Still, Crabtree is staying grounded. Despite the big afternoon, Crabtree said he still feels like he hasn't accomplished anything yet.
"I have nowhere to go but up," Crabtree said. "I'm just going to keep grinding. … That's just my mentality right now."
Everyone knows about Frank Gore and the 49ers rushing attack. Now Smith and the aerial assault are making noise, too. Despite the steady drizzle and classic Candlestick winds, Smith totaled 267 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Added to another dominating defensive effort, one which resulted in five takeaways, the 49ers offense never gave Arizona much of a chance.
"The 'W' is the most important thing," Smith said, "and now to have nine wins, yeah, it does feel good."
The 49ers held a 9-0 lead at halftime, but broke the game open in the third quarter. It started on the initial series of the second half, a 13-play, 84-yard march that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown catch by Williams.
Lined up on the left side of the field, Williams made a crisp cut toward the sideline and Smith delivered a dart, before Williams fought off a tackle and stretched the ball across the plane for six.
Truth be told, it was something of a blind pass by Smith.
"(Smith) even told me he didn't see me on the touchdown," Williams said. "He threw it to the spot and trusted I would get open. He put it out there for me and it was a hell of a throw. We got it."
It was the second touchdown grab of the year for Williams, which is tops on the team among wide receivers. But it wouldn't have been possible without Crabtree, who made some stellar plays after the catch. Crabtree accounted for 44 yards on two receptions during the drive, leaving a collection of would-be tacklers in his wake.
"Michael Crabtree, first of all, got us really going as an offense," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Just his extra effort, third and fourth effort when he got his hands on the ball. That really sparked our unit."
Though it was something of a coming out party for Williams, it was nothing surprising to his teammates. The quick, shifty option out of Arizona State carved out more playing time for himself throughout the afternoon by capitalizing on his chances.
"We've been knowing that he could ball," Crabtree said of Williams. "That's my dude. He's like my brother on the field. Guy can play."
Notes and Quotes
Vernon Davis' touchdown, which came on an 18-yard fade route less than three minutes after Williams' score, gave the 49ers a commanding 23-0 lead in the third quarter. Not only was it his team-high fifth touchdown reception, but it gives Davis a franchise record 34 for his career, one better than Brent Jones.
Fellow tight end Justin Peelle may not have made Sunday's highlight reel like Davis, but also he played an instrumental role in the offense's success. Once starting fullback Bruce Miller left the game in the first half with a head injury, Peelle was forced into emergency duty as fullback.
"If they want me to do it, I'll do it to the best of my ability," Peelle said. "But those two guys (Miller and fullback Moran Norris) are a lot better at it than me."
Reserve tackle Alex Boone also received more playing time against the Cardinals, filling in for right tackle Anthony Davis, who suffered a leg injury and had to sit out several snaps.
The 49ers had a turnover margin of plus-4 on the afternoon, creating five takeaways in the process. For the season, they have a turnover differential of plus-17. The defense also recorded 11 more pass breakups Sunday, moving its league-leading total to 77. The 49ers haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 32 straight games and are still yet to give up a rushing touchdown all season.
The offensive line also performed well, allowing zero sacks for the third time this season.
Kicker David Akers went 3-for-6 and had two kicks blocked, but upped his point total to an NFL-best 102.