Smith leads a mistake-free victory
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Alex Smith threw crisp passes all afternoon. San Francisco's defense got to the quarterback and forced fumbles. The 49ers finally produced the kind of mistake-free performance on both sides of the ball coach Mike Singletary has been waiting to see from his team.
Smith completed short touchdown passes to Frank Gore and Vernon Davis in his best game yet this season, highlighting an all-around sound day for San Francisco in a 20-3 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday.
For a team that began the season with plans of being defined by the run, the 49ers are suddenly opening things up with Smith behind center. Five receivers had four or more catches.
"It's pretty much the growth of this offense," Smith said. "In the NFL, you have to be balanced. You have to be able to do it different ways to find ways to win."
Joe Nedney kicked field goals of 46 and 27 yards for the 49ers (5-6), who snapped the Jaguars' three-game winning streak and spoiled the Bay Area homecoming of Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio and running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
The Jaguars' loss clinched the AFC South title for the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts, who rallied to win at Houston earlier yesterday.
Jones-Drew, a prep star at powerhouse De La Salle High School on the other side of San Francisco Bay, ran for 75 yards to become a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in his career. He is only the second player in franchise history to do it, joining Fred Taylor's seven such efforts. Jones-Drew had his streak of five consecutive games with a touchdown run snapped.
San Francisco's defense came up with two fumble recoveries off second-half sacks, including Parys Haralson's hit on David Garrard early in the fourth quarter for a 20-yard loss.
Smith threw for 232 yards with no interceptions and no sacks in his best game since taking over as starter in late October. Gore had seven catches, Josh Morgan and Davis six each and four apiece from Delanie Walker and Michael Crabtree.
"The absolute best thing that happened this week was I saw leadership on the offensive side of the ball," Singletary said. "In terms of: 'Coach, this is what I think would work. This is what I think we need. Can we do this? Can we do more spread? Can we put it on us, the receivers?'"
He credited Davis, Smith and even Crabtree -- the rookie top draft pick -- for offering their input.
Josh Scobee kicked a 32-yard field goal for the Jaguars (6-5) but also missed wide left on a 40-yard try early in the second quarter and his 21-yarder in the fourth hit the left upright. He made a disgusted face afterward. The second miss matched the shortest in the NFL this season. The Giants' Lawrence Tynes also failed on a 21-yarder in Week 3 against Tampa Bay, according to STATS LLC.
"The short one was unacceptable, plain and simple," Scobee said. "I take full responsibility for it. I am a professional."
Jacksonville managed only six first downs in the first half but wound up outgaining the 49ers, 357-284. Torry Holt made a reception for the 164th consecutive game and passed Andre Reed to move into 10th place on the career list for yards receiving at 13,226.
First Published November 30, 2009 12:00 am