Thumbs up and thumbs down: 49ers/Buccaneers

Which way does the thumb turn for the 49ers after their 48-3 annihilation of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including creative offensive innovation, FS Dashon Goldson hurting people, RB Frank Gore with his burst back, OLB Aldon Smith, ILB Patrick Willis, QB Alex Smith's soaring rating, WR Josh Morgan a fallen warrior, a three-TD day at TE, improving 66 points in 11 months and much more? Check inside.

Thumbs up: Handoffs to tight ends and wide receivers out of the backfield, wheel routes and screens to wide receivers, play-action fakes to set up deep throws down the field on first down? How about your starting right guard lining up at fullback with your starting fullback and your tailback behind him in an I formation? You've got to like the creativity and innovation of the 49ers on offense on a day when Jim Harbaugh further opened the attack.

Thumbs up: Dashon Goldson is hurting people, and his blow-up hit on Tampa receiver Mike Williams was about as close as you can come to mashing somebody in the NFL without drawing a penalty for excessive brutality. Goldson's hit was ridiculously vicious yet clean, the kind that any big-hitting safety will keep forever in his portfolio, and it not only rattled Williams from the top of his helmet to the bottom of his cleats, but it also rocked the ball out of his hands to account for the third turnover of the day recorded by San Francisco's defense.

Thumbs up: Williams' fumble, recovered by Patrick Willis, was preceded by two San Francisco interceptions as the 49ers once again won the important turnover battle. As usual, it meant a lot in this game, as each of the 49ers three takeaways set up touchdowns, with the first turnover becoming a touchdown as cornerback Carlos Rogers took his interception back 31 yards to the land of 6.

Thumbs down: One of the few glitches by the 49ers in this resounding rout came late in the first quarter with San Francisco driving towards another score on its second possession. Frank Gore, handling the ball loosely, fumbled by running into the back side of one of his own blockers with Tampa Bay recovering at its own 11-yard line to wash away a great scoring opportunity after the Niners drove 64 yards in seven plays.

Thumbs up: But the 49ers had Gore's back and got back that missed scoring opportunity two plays later on Rogers' weaving, across-the-field interception return, which was one of an amazing nine passes that San Francisco defenders got their hands on during the game. The 49ers had seven of them by halftime, and Freeman's two picks were actually minimal damage for the Tampa Bay QB, because the 49ers could have had as many as five with they were tipping his passes around.

Thumbs up: Gore bounced back from his fumble with his most impressive game of the season, showing his coltish form to persuade Harbaugh to say afterward, "He had his burst back. He looked like Frank." Gore was explosive through the hole and at his slashing, gashing best on runs of 21, 19 and 18 yards on his way to a game-high 125 yards rushing.

Thumbs down: It sucked to see Josh Morgan go down with an ankle injury at the finish of a blowout, and just when Morgan was beginning to blossom as a big-play receiver and consistent target in San Francisco's blossoming passing game. Initial reports indicate Morgan fractured his right ankle, and that's an injury that will keep him out a while – or longer.

Thumbs up: The chants of Mor-gan, MOR-GAN from a crowd that stayed with the 49ers to the end was pretty heartening though. They showed a lot of appreciation for their fallen warrior.

Thumbs up: Patrick Willis is not one to play second fiddle. After allowing partner NaVorro Bowman to soak up the spotlight at inside linebacker the past few weeks, Willis was in dominant form, recording nine tackles by halftime and finishing with a game-high 12 to go along with a fumble recovery and a pass defensed.

Thumbs up: Almost as impressive as the final score was San Francisco doubling-up the Bucs 28-14 in first downs. That's total dominance , particularly considering the Niners held only a two-minute edge in time of possession. They got twice as many first downs while possessing the football for relatively the same amount of time as the Bucs.

Thumbs down: We're really stretching for negatives here, but what's a thumbs column without at least a few thumbs down included? Guard Mike Iupati's holding penalty on third-and-4 pushed the Niners back 10 yards and threatened an early end to San Francisco's first possession of the second half. But the Niners converted on a 15-yard pass from Alex Smith to Michael Crabtree on third-and-14 to keep alive what later finished as a touchdown drive.

Thumbs up: But overall, the 49ers were impressively disciplined, getting flagged only three times for 30 yards in penalties on the day. Meanwhile, on the other sideline, Tampa Bay was losing its composure while getting penalized nine times for 96 negative yards.

Thumbs up: Crabtree made two nice catches that had even his coach talking about them afterward, but what stood out even more was his feisty blocking down the field on several plays, one of which sprang Morgan for a 24-yard gain.

Thumbs up: We could go on and on about another great day by quarterback Alex Smith, who had three touchdown passes and no turnovers, but we'll let his 127.2 passer rating do the talking, the first time in Smith's seven-year career that he's registered passer ratings of 100 or better in back-to-back games. That sent Smith's season rating soaring to 104.1, which ranks third in the NFL today, behind only the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

Thumbs up: And with the training wheels off and now in the rear view mirror, Smith continued to look deep on a regular basis, eschewing the dinking and dunking that characterized San Francisco's passing game in September. Smith threw for 170 yards despite completing just 11 passes, and four of them went for more than 20 yards to four different receivers.

Thumbs up: All three of Smith's touchdown passes went to tight ends, as Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis made their receptions count. The pair combined for five catches for 76 yards, with Walker scoring on a 26-yard strike from Smith and Davis hitting paydirt on plays that covered 23 and 14 yards.

Thumbs down: It may seem kind of trivial, but on his first play after taking over for Alex Smith midway through the fourth quarter, Colin Kaepernick couldn't even execute a basic handoff, running into fellow rookie Kendall Hunter in the backfield for a three-yard loss. The same thing happened later in the drive when Hunter was dropped for a 1-yard loss.

Thumbs up: But Kaepernick sure looked sharp taking a deep drop two plays later and firing a strike near the right sideline to Delanie Walker for a first down for his first NFL completion on his first NFL pass. Kaepernick later rifled another fine sideline pass to Morgan on fourth-and-3 for a 19-yard gain to the 1-yard line to set up San Francisco's final touchdown. The rookie finished 3 for 3 with a 115.3 passer rating and has yet to throw an incompletion.

Thumbs up: Speaking of rookies, first-round draft pick Aldon Smith is coming on strong, picking up two more sacks to run his total to 3.5 in the past two games, the most on the team through five games.

Thumbs up: It was impressive the way the 49ers shut down Tampa running back LeGarrette Blount in the first half and, resultingly, took him out of the game. Blount gained 34 yards rushing in the first half – and that's the total he finished with as he never carried the ball after halftime.

Thumbs up: Sure, the 49ers are on a roll, but here's an indication of how far they've come since last year: When the 49ers played Tampa Bay on the same field last November, the Bucs won 21-0 and limited the 49ers to 187 yards of total offense. So after finishing with 418 yards Sunday, they've improved in 11 months by 66 points and 231 yards. And you can't get much more thumbs up than that.


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