49ers Make Statement in Win over Chicago

Sep 10, 2003 at 12:00 AM


With 11 minutes left in the game in Detroit, a Jason Hanson PAT helped the Lions finished off a 42-24 win over the Cardinals, giving Steve Mariucci his first win as Lions head coach. Three hours later, the 49ers proved they could do their old coach one touchdown better.

In an impressive display of offensive, defensive and special teams' dominance, the 49ers blew out the Chicago Bears 49-7 on Sunday. With new formations and a new attitude, San Francisco scored 23 points in the final six minutes to break the game open and headed into the locker room with a 33-7 lead, their biggest first half output in more than a decade.

"To be honest, you can't ask for a better start," Erickson said. "We blitzed a lot, we came after them … and everybody did their job. It was a great team effort."

However, a 26 point lead was not enough for Erickson's 49ers. Despite an insurmountable lead, the 49ers kept their starters in the game until midway through the 4th quarter. The result was a 49-point laugher, a fitting number for Erickson in his inaugural game in San Francisco.

It was a profound statement to the rest of the league that the 49ers have no intention of laying down under new coach Dennis Erickson. The difference between last year and this year was strongly evident right before the half.

With 25 seconds left in the half, Jimmy Williams intercepted a Kordell Stewart pass and gave the 49ers the ball at the Bears' 37 yard line. Instead of taking a knee and heading to the locker room, like the 49ers did in last years' loss to Tampa Bay in the playoffs, Erickson went for the jugular. The result was three more points on the board, a small effect on the outcome of the game, but a significant statement to the 49ers players, organization and fans that this was a new team.

"We are getting back to what we used to do in the past, like when I first arrived here in 1992," Derrick Deese said.

Every aspect of the team showed improvement. The special teams blocked a punt and recovered a fumble on a return to set up two touchdowns. The defense scored on an interception return by Ahmed Plummer. The offense scored four touchdowns and accumulated almost 400 yards in the game. Even Erickson was in top shape, racing down the sidelines with Plummer as the corner shut the door on any of the Chicago's hopes of a comeback. It was a performance that was reminiscent of the Super Bowl teams of the 80's.

"Your first game you just try to go out there and execute the offense," Owens said. "We wanted to get the season off on the right foot and we did that. We took advantage of what they gave us."

A final sign that the Mariucci era had finally ended occurred in the locker room after the game. Terrell Owens and defensive coordinator Jim Mora Jr. presented the game ball to Erickson. Praise from Owens, who was never Mariucci's biggest fan, is perhaps the biggest compliment for Erickson.

The blowout was the perfect confidence booster for the 49ers, who are heading into one of the biggest games of the year next week in St. Louis.

The 49ers have lost seven of their last eight games against the Rams, and haven't won at St. Louis since 1998. The 49-7 win over Chicago was the largest margin of victory for the 49ers since December 19, 1992. Who did they defeat that day? Mariucci's new team, the Lions, 55-17.

* quotes taken from Espn.com, Foxsports.com wire reports and the Press Democrat
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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