For weeks now, a great many of the beleaguered 49er faithful have been complaining. 2-1 start or not, the team just didn't look good. This wasn't the "real west coast offense" that most had envisioned when Coach Harbaugh came aboard in the off-season. Baalke's "bargains" weren't getting it done, and this team was just treading water.

The questions were many, and the questioners far from kind. What is with all of the power runs? What in the hell is zone blocking, and why bother doing it if our line sucks at it? When will Alex Smith just admit that he sucks and throw in the towel? Is Coach Harbaugh the second coming of Mike Singletary? In short, many were wondering, "What the hell is Harbaugh doing?"

In the second half of Sunday morning's game, they got their answer: Harbaugh is executing his plan. And if the early returns are any indication, the plan is working.

The aforementioned noted, let's take a look at what happened on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Mr. Smith goes to Philadelphia
Alex Smith played the game of his life…or the half of his life, to be exact. This wasn't a meaningless game at the end of the season…this was a dogfight in one of the league's most hostile venues. Make no mistake: this is a game that Alex was expected to lose. On the day, Alex was 21of 33 (63.6%) for 291 yards and 2 TDs, finishing with a 112.1 QB rating. Down 20 points in the second half, Smith was asked to win the game…and he delivered, big time. He was careful with the ball (exclusive of his near disastrous fumble), he showed great chemistry with his receiving corps, extended plays with his feet, connected with 8 different receivers and made throws that he hasn't made in his entire career. For the entire second half, he was brilliant. Harbaugh's influence on Smith is evident…but one game does not a winning season make. For the 49ers to break their eight season streak of futility, we'll need to see more of the same from #11.

"We Don't Suck"
In the week leading up to Sunday's game, starting left tackle Joe Staley boldly proclaimed that he and his fellow linemen "don't suck". The quote drew laughter and derision from media outlets (ESPN, NBC, CBS, Yahoo Sports, etc.) across the country, especially considering the fact that the 49ers' offensive line has looked downright horrid at times this season. To be sure, the line's switch from predominantly man blocking last season to a more complex zone protection scheme has been anything but smooth. As it turns out, time actually IS the salve that cures all ills (or perhaps time spent in Youngstown cures all ills). Either way, by the end of the 4th quarter, the 49ers' offensive line had paved the way for the 49ers best day on the ground to date. They protected Alex Smith well enough for him to lead the team to its biggest comeback victory since 1996. As the season progresses, the line's performance should continue to improve. So…while the line wasn't exactly dominant, it looks like Joe has a point. For at least second half of Sunday's contest, they didn't suck.

Receiving Attention
Much ado was made of the Eagles' signing of free agent Nnamdi Asomugha in the off season. Coupled with Asante Samuel, he is part of what could be the most talented pair of corner backs in the league. Popular opinion was that the 49ers would be unable to move the ball through the air against Philly's talented tandem. It appears that the 49ers didn't get the memo. Joshua Morgan looked like a man possessed on his TD reception. Michael Crabtree had one of his best games as a 49er. His highlight came in the 3rd quarter: facing single coverage, Michael Crabtree ran a perfect route, getting Nnamdi Asomugha to bite on a double move, setting up a TD reception by Vernon Davis. Given that there was a stretch of 9 straight passes in the 3rd quarter in which the ball did not hit the ground, it is safe to say that this unit is beginning to find its feet.

Frank the Tank
Over the season's first three games, it was evident that Frank Gore was playing through an injury of some sort. Though he didn't start Sunday's game…he sure as hell finished it. His 13 yard scamper through the heart of the Eagle defense with just less than 3 minutes to play gave the 49ers the lead…and his first down scamper with just over a minute left iced the game. As breakout games go (127 yards, 1TD), this one couldn't have come at a better time. Though he will likely split carries with explosive rookie Kendall Hunter going forward, he is still vital to the offense. The term "warrior" gets thrown around a lot in pro football(as noted by Coach Harbaugh in his post game presser)…but make no mistake…Frank earned it. Big time.

Defense Anyone?
Looking at today's box score, one might take issue with the 49er defense. The secondary had its hands full trying to keep up with the Eagles lightning fast wide outs and the front seven struggled to contain Vick early. All told, the 49ers gave up over 500 yards of total offense. Ugh. But now for the good news: for all that yardage, the 49ers held the Eagles to 2 TDs in 7 trips to the Red Zone (28%) and forced 3 crucial turnovers. Add to that the fact that the 49ers held LeSean McCoy (the leading rusher in the NFC through Week 3) to 18 yards on the ground and what you get is a defense that extended the streak in which they have not allowed an opposing rusher to eclipse the 100 yard mark to 26 games. At the end of the day, the defense did a little better than the numbers indicate.

The Bottom Line
Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have repeatedly proclaimed, "we have a plan". On Sunday, we got a glimpse of that plan in action. Baalke's "bargains" showed up when it mattered. In the second half, Jim Harbaugh outfoxed Andy Reid, the NFL's longest tenured head coach. Alex Smith took a giant step forward, leading his team back from a 20 point deficit on the road. The offensive line finally showed us what a solidly executed zone blocking scheme can accomplish. The defense bent early, but snapped back late to put this team in a position to win a pivotal game.

So, what does all of this mean? Will the 49ers finally be taken seriously by the rest of the league? Have they magically become the team fans have been pining for over the last 8 agonizing seasons? No. Not yet anyway. Sunday's game did not proclaim that the 49ers have arrived…just that they're on their way, according to plan.