Alex Smith, Jim Harbaugh, and the New San Francisco 49ers

How can we describe the 49ers latest win against Philadelphia? While most of the collective media concentrate on what The Eagles did wrong, let’s take a moment to think about what it was that the 49ers did right.

San Francisco started 3-1 in 2009, much like this year. Back then, they had a new head-coach who was finally getting the most out of the players on the roster. These sentiments seem to be echoed this season as well, but there’s a key difference: Philosophy.

In 2009, the 49ers played smash-mouth football. It didn’t matter if it was 1st and 20, or 3rd and 2, they were going to run it right at you. It was a power running game. Harbaugh also likes to call his style a power running game, so what’s the difference? To start, Harbaugh has so far based his groupings, and running routes based on the situation, and the tendencies of the opponent. This is something Singletary and Jimmy Raye didn’t do. In 2009, it didn’t matter what style of play, or player packages the opponent had on the field. The offense was built to run the play called, no matter what. This may seem like a minor change, but it’s impact can be felt on both sides of the ball.

Harbaugh and Roman have coached to a degree the 49ers haven’t seen in some time. They play-call with more than just the current and next play in mind. When you play for a coach that puts you in the best position to win, you play better. This is evident by Alex Smith and his career year he is having.

Alex Smith hasn’t been asked to do much this year, but he has. Sure, his contributions don’t jump out of the stat sheet, but when the 49ers needed a drive, he produced every time.

So are these 49ers a mere second-coming of the 2009 49ers who under-achieved? I don’t think so. But what I think doesn’t matter, what do you think?

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