Eric Davis spent 13 years in the NFL as a cornerback. He's now in his second season as part of the 49ers broadcast team. After every 49ers game Davis will break down the game in his "Wrap Up" column. Here's Davis' ninth column of the 2009 regular season recapping the 49ers home victory over the Chicago Bears.**
I think we all saw a different 49ers team last night than what we had seen in recent weeks.
Defensively, they looked a lot better and they finished plays. As a group they got off the field when they had to and they created five turnovers that gave the 49ers a chance to win the ballgame. When you hold teams out of the end zone and you create multiple turnovers, you're going to give yourself a great shot at winning and that's what the 49ers did.
They got back to playing defense at a level that they started the year at. And with seven games left, it's going to be important for them to maintain that level. If the 49ers want to remain competitive in the playoff race – that's what they're going to have to do.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin is a guy who I singled out earlier in the year for his stellar play and it was great to see him have another great game on a national stage. It was great to see him have a night and make the spotlight plays that the rest of the world can see. They got to see him in the light that I've been seeing him in all season long.
He has been probably the most solid performer on the 49ers entire roster this season.
Franklin has played week in and week out at an extremely high and consistent level. I think he is well-deserving of any Pro Bowl mentions that he will soon start to get now. Again, that type of play is going to be necessary for the 49ers to win games down the stretch. Having Franklin play this way, hopefully he'll become one of those players who steps up and says, "Follow my lead."
He's a guy who has earned the right to do so.
The 49ers defensive backs followed Franklin's lead by picking four passes of their own against the Bears. And in my experience as a defensive back in the NFL, if you catch the ones that are coming to you, as a unit, you'll lead the world in interceptions.
If you throw the ball 52 times like Jay Cutler did, a solid secondary will find ways to get interceptions. And that's what the 49ers did, they put themselves in position to make those plays. Those are the type of plays this 49ers secondary needs to make and they are capable of making those plays. When they're matchup properly and they're executing well, they have an opportunity to be solid like that every week.
It all boils down to them finishing.
In seasons past, the secondary did not finish plays when they had the opportunity to make interceptions that could have changed the game. But against the Bears, they were able to finish those plays and they did it in a big way.
Offensively, the 49ers did not finish like the defense did and that was one of the downfalls of the game. If you get five turnovers in a game – it shouldn't even be close – especially when you're at home. The 49ers needed to finish drives by scoring touchdowns and they certainly didn't need to end drives with missed field goals.
That's part of this offense maturity. They need to understand that yes, mistakes will be made and there will even be some head-scratching plays at times. There's not a football team around that won't make those types of mistakes. You can go down Super Bowl rosters and they all had dumb mistakes along the way.
But the difference is that they have to understand that they have to get things done correctly and you can't make mistakes. That's what the 49ers offense hasn't learned yet.
You can single out players on certain plays, but really the 49ers have to be a cohesive unit. It goes across the board even to the quarterback. There were times where Alex Smith had to make better decisions too. But those are things that can be corrected and so that's a positive.
Another bright spot was that Frank Gore was able to as effective as he was, carrying 25 times for 104 yards. Frank is not given a lot of credit to see and read what a defense is trying to do. People always talk about Frank's toughness, but his vision is amazing too.
A lot of people think a spread offense will help Smith, but it helps Gore a lot too. It's not only conducive to getting the best results from Smith. By design, they'll get more people out of the box and it puts defenses in situations where zone blocking schemes will work effectively on them. In that scenario, Frank is excellent at reading which hole to attack.
He understands his linemen's abilities and he's able to play off that. Against the Bears he showed great vision. On some runs he was extremely patient, and on others he hit it quickly because he knew what was going on around him.
Seeing Frank get 100 yards means that teams will have to concern themselves with that more and it will open up more opportunities in the passing game for weapons like Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Josh Morgan.