When I look at the San Francisco 49er insignia on the NFL apparel I wear seven days a week, both to and outside of my workplace, I do so with a great sense of pride and complete satisfaction of knowing and understanding what Jim Harbaugh is trying to bring to this franchise. In my honest opinion he represents the second coming of Bill Walsh more than any coach I have studied or have come to know.
Jim himself has said prior to his inauguration as our head coach that he was mentored by Bill as a young athlete and as a coach coming up through the ranks, keeping scripts, playbooks, video and even saving Bill's image as his main screen saver on his personal computer. He brought those teachings and examples to the University of San Diego and on to Stanford where, almost overnight, he became the hottest collegiate coach in the nation.
Now we have reaped the distinct benefits of what he has been able to incorporate into this organization, which is a resounding vision of believability that both players and fans have come to know as actual success both inside and outside the locker room. His charisma, philosophies and teachings are infectious ingredients amongst the players in stirring an enthusiasm and motivation we haven't seen for many years within this team.
The "complete team" manifesto that Jim eats, breaths and lives by is the actual formula that has propelled this team to unknown heights as a team fixated on taking just one game at time and never looking ahead towards anything other then what is at hand right now. So many situations are now presenting themselves with the constant success we have been reaping, but none in any form or manner has been a distraction because of the coaching mentality to keep it reserved.
We all are smiling about the commanding lead we have above Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis in our division and we all are salivating about the possibility of clinching not only the division but home field advantage in an up and coming playoff scenario. Jim and his assistant coaches have kept a solid focus and lid on anything boiling over the top that could present itself as being a possible distraction, one that could derail the positive momentum we all are experiencing right now.
Traveling together to the Washington D.C. area and experiencing the aura and sacrifice of our veterans at Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were bonding moments that the players will never take for granted. Comparisons and convictions were shared between coaches and players and a sense of comradely was formed drawing both sides closer together in a way that further cements the loyalty and motivation of this team to play well on both sides of the ball to reap success.
The 19-11 victory over the Washington Redskins was a hard drawn out battle that was as much mental as it was physical with players talking smack and personal fouls being thrown because of the intensity of what this particular game represented for both sides. Turnovers determined the destiny of this game with our defense leading the way to secure victory yet again with little fanfare being directed to any particular player.
Great tackling was again a known prescription of health to our defense that manhandled the Redskin offense in every way imaginable. Their high octane running game was quelled to 52 total yards rushing and John Beck quarterback of the Washington Redskins was held in check all day with a sack and a lonely long pass of 17 total yards. The crispness of the contact in tackling was a thing of beauty listening to on surround sound and digital TV to boot.
Every time a tackle is made it is envisioned as a team tackle according to head coach Jim Harbaugh. A seemingly unselfish act that defines the way the defense plays in that they are a complete unit in their execution on the field which in general helps turn the tide of the game. Turnovers alone led to 10 of the 49ers' points in this game and they were hard fought points that makes the victory that much sweeter to talk about.
49er safety Dashon Goldson's interception was a thing of beauty as was Patrick Willis stripping of the ball with Donte Whitner recovering it. Offensively Alex Smith again played mistake-free football after taking a vicious hit with the ball in his hands and not allowing the ball to be dislodged. He also hit 17-out-of 24 passes for 200 total yards and hit an unconventional target in converted linebacker to fullback Bruce Miller for the only touchdown of the game. It was a 30-yard pass that dropped convincingly into Bruce's hands and his feet did all the rest for the score.
Great special teams execution with David Akers making all his kicks and Andy Lee was driving the Redskins back to poor field position, helped us especially in securing this dramatic victory on the road. Frank Gore's 107 yards rushing with 19 carries averaging 5.6-yards per carry was yet again the blue collar work mentality of not just himself but the entire offensive line that made key blocks and shifts for him that executed well against a pretty tough defensive front the Redskins are known for.
What I'd like to see is some more passing to take advantage of the known quality weapons we have in Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards to somehow draw nearer the 300-yard marker to help convince us that Alex Smith can contribute more than just being a game manager and a security guard of the football. He has to start defining himself with some big play ability and an accuracy that can no longer be in doubt. When you're already winning though I guess that is just like asking for more frosting on the cake.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.