Niners notebook: Victory has its rewards

As a reward for their 9-3 victory over the Vikings, Mike Nolan gave the 49ers' players the day off Monday. Since Tuesday is a regular players' day off during the season, it must seem like a mini-vacation for a San Francisco team that came off its roughest patch of Nolan's two seasons as head coach to produce the best defensive performance of the Nolan era.

The 49ers (3-5) have yet to win back-to-back games this season, so they'll go for their first two-game winning streak Sunday against the Lions in Detroit when preparation for that game begins Wednesday.

Nolan said it was not as if he would look back on whatever happens in the 49ers' next game against the Lions and say that the extra day off adversely affected his team.

He wanted to do something for the players after they came back strong after a 41-10 loss a week earlier to the Bears. Two weeks earlier - with the 49ers bye week in between - the 49ers were thrashed 48-19 at home by the San Diego Chargers.

"It was an important victory for us after the way we played the last couple weeks," Nolan said. "I think they needed to be rewarded."

Despite having the day off, veteran defensive lineman Bryant Young stayed with his usual routine. He came into the 49ers' facility to get treatment, a massage, lift weights, stretch and watch film of the upcoming opponent.

"We don't take a day off for granted because those are few and far between," Young said. "When you have them, you want to enjoy them, and know when you come back to work on Wednesday, it's all business."

While giving his players an opportunity to soak in the victory - the first day off Nolan had given his team after a game since he arrived in San Francisco - Nolan also wanted to make sure that nobody was satisfied to just get a win. He wants to build a philosophy on his team that it will continue to push forward to string together wins.

"We're certainly excited about the victory, but I want to caution our building about the sigh-of-relief feeling," Nolan said. "It's important that we approach this as trying to get back-to-back wins. That's something we haven't done in a while. It's a big challenge to go to Detroit because they're also coming off a big win."

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Quarterback Alex Smith, the NFL's youngest starting quarterback at 22, was thrilled to meet Hall of Famer Joe Montana, 50, prior to Sunday's game.

Montana took part in a ceremony honoring the team's alumni, and he also went through a re-enactment of "The Catch" with Dwight Clark to celebrate one of the greatest moments in sports history.

"Quickly before the game, Joe wished me luck," Smith said. "Anyone who plays quarterback and gets the opportunity to meet Joe Montana, whether or not you play for the 49ers, is a big deal. I never dreamt in my wildest dreams that the day would come when I would meet Joe Montana, walk out on the same field as him, and wear the same uniform that he wore. It was a pretty special moment. It will be something I will remember for a long time."

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Rookie linebacker Parys Haralson underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a torn pectoral muscle and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

Haralson was injured late in the first half of Sunday's 9-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The fifth-round draft pick was making a significant impact during training camp this summer as one of San Francisco's top newcomers and was challenging for a starting position at outside linebacker before a foot injury in the preseason thwarted his progress.

He missed the 49ers' season opener at Arizona before slowly being worked back into the lineup and the team's defensive game plan. But Haralson never got back to the point he was before his summer injury, even with the team struggling on defense.

Haralson recorded five solo tackles in the seven games he played this season.

The 49ers replaced Haralson on the 53-man roster with linebacker Roderick Green, who was claimed off waivers from Baltimore after the NFL's final cutdown to 53-man rosters in early September. Green played in a reserve role in the 49ers opener at Arizona and was inactive against St. Louis before being waived.

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Running back Frank Gore did not have one of his better games, gaining just 41 yards on 19 carries, but he saved his best run for last. The 49ers took over with 1:04 remaining, and Gore gained 11 yards on a sweep around the left side on a second-and-10. Gore's momentum was carrying him out of bounds, but he thought quickly to slide inbounds to keep the clock moving.

"That shows how good of a football player Frank is," Nolan said. "He's a very unselfish player. When we needed it the very most, that's when Frank showed up again. That was an outstanding play there."

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Linebacker Derek Smith is learning how to adjust to compensate for his sight problems. Smith is playing with a bothersome muscle strain in his left eye that makes it impossible for him to move his eye up and to the left.

"I'm a little bit higher (in my stance), but I see things better," Smith said. "My vision is fine, but the range of motion (is lacking). The muscle is working at 10 percent efficiency. With the upward range of motion, it (his eye) is not really moving."

Smith was credited with just three tackles in the victory over the Vikings, but continues to start at middle linebacker.

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The 49ers had 133 total yards in their victory against the Vikings, which was the second-fewest yards in a win in franchise history. The lowest was at Atlanta in 1977, when the 49ers mustered only 97 yards in a 10-3 victory.

The 49ers defense yielded only 238 yards against the Vikings. The last time they allowed that few yards in a game was against the Dolphins in 2004, when they allowed only 200 yards in a 24-17 loss. They allowed 210 yards in a 50-14 win against the Cardinals in 2003, the last time the 49ers won a game while giving up that few yards.


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