49ers replay: Smith/Bryant becoming hot combo

The 49ers gained more than 350 yards of total offense in a game just once last season. But they've already eclipsed that mark twice in their first two games this season, thanks in large part to their quarterback-receiver combination.

Quarterback Alex Smith and receiver Antonio Bryant have already developed a rapport on the field worth watching. Sometimes Bryant gets animated when things aren't going his way, but Smith said he appreciates his teammates' will to win.

"A lot of times he comes out and he wants the ball," Smith said. "I don't know what receiver doesn't want the ball. A lot of people try to turn this into something. He wants to win as badly as anyone in this room. You'll see him out there blocking on run plays. He works extremely hard. I think he's definitely a team player. He wants to be good and he wants the team to be good."

Bryant has been exceptional in the first two games of the season. He supplied the go-ahead points for the 49ers when he got behind the Rams' secondary to latch onto a perfectly thrown pass from Smith for a 72-yard scoring play.

Bryant said not to read too much into his body language during the course of a game. He appeared visibly upset when Smith missed him with some passes in the first half against the Rams.

"I'm very animated," Bryant said. "I would probably be the most animated character out there if this was a cartoon."

So far, Bryant appears to be a good fit with the 49ers. Coach Mike Nolan said he loves the competitiveness that Bryant brings to the young team and is willing to accept the occasional outburst that might come along with it.

"I love all my teammates to death," Bryant said. "I was telling my mom the other night that it's almost like having brothers. You come in here and laugh and it's like a big family. There's nothing personal between me and any person in this locker room because we're like brothers."

In his first two games with the 49ers, Bryant has caught eight passes for 245 yards and one touchdown. He also had a 52-yard scoring pass from Smith nullified in the season opener against the Cardinals. He ranks third in the NFL in receiving yards and his 30.6 average on eight receptions is the best in the league.

"Our offense is working to be better," Bryant said. "We do some good things, but there are things we can do a lot better. That's good because you don't want to be exactly were you need to be right now or else you won't have much to work towards."


Running back Frank Gore rushed for career-high 127 yards and scored on a 32-yard touchdown, and the 49ers' defense recorded six sacks in a 20-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday in San Francisco's home opener.

The 49ers (1-1) scored two touchdowns in the first 4:17 of the second half to take command. Meanwhile, rookie linebacker Manny Lawson recorded two sacks, as did nickel back Chad Williams. The 49ers' pass rush was a glaring weakness in the exhibition season, as no player who earned a roster spot got to the quarterback. But the 49ers had six sacks against the Rams, the most in their past 17 games.

"There are things you hide in the preseason, and we were hiding all of our sacks," coach Mike Nolan said.

--- LT Jonas Jennings did not suit up for the game because of a right high ankle sprain he sustained in the opening-week loss at the Cardinals. He has a good chance to be ready for the game Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
--- KR Maurice Hicks returned the kickoff at the start of the second half 59 yards to set up the tying touchdown. Hicks saw limited action on offense and did not record a carry.
--- LB Manny Lawson recorded his first two NFL sacks, and also produced two quarterback hurries. Lawson was the No. 22 overall draft pick from North Carolina State.
--- TE Vernon Davis was held without a catch. He had a chance to make a difficult one-handed catch in the end zone in the first half, but failed to come down with the ball.
--- RB Frank Gore committed a fumble for the second consecutive game, but he made up for it with a 32-yard TD run early in the second half. His running also helped the 49ers preserve the victory by eating up the final 3:38 of the game. Gore finished with 127 yards on 29 carries - both career-highs. He also caught two passes for 10 yards.
--- QB Alex Smith, who did not pass for more than 185 yards in any of his seven starts as a rookie, went over that mark for the second time in two games this season. He completed 11 of 22 passes for 233 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. His 103.0 passer rating was a career high for one game, and he currently ranks 10th in the NFL with a 93.5 season rating.

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