49ers vs. Seahawks: Thumbs up and thumbs down

Which way does the thumb turn for the 49ers after their 23-10 beatdown of the Seattle Seahawks, including Frank Gore's rush into the history books, a quick-starting defense, Joe the Toe Nedney, TE Vernon Davis, the offensive line, FB Moran Norris, CB Shawntae Spencer, LB Patrick Willis, pussycat play in the Wildcat formation, honoring former owner Eddie DeBartolo and much, much more? Check inside.

Thumbs up: We start with a biggest of thumbs up for Frank Gore, who made NFL history with touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards among his game-high 207 yards rushing on just 16 carries, a 12.9 average. Gore was at his very best Sunday and would have set a new career high and franchise record if he had not put the game away with his 80-yard bolt to paydirt on the first play of the second half. In the process, Gore became just the second player in NFL history to have two touchdown runs of 79 or more yards in the same game, joining the great Barry Sanders. Now, that's some fast company.

Thumbs up: To a quick-starting defense, which forced a three-and-out by the Seattle offense to start the game, setting the tone for the afternoon. The Seahawks lost four yards on that first series and had four other three-and outs during the game while converting just 29 percent (4 of 14) of their third-down attempts.

Thumbs up: Ray McDonald, coming off reconstructive knee surgery that didn't allow him to practice with the 49ers until the end of this summer, had his second sack in two games, which also happened to be San Francisco's only sack of the day Sunday. McDonald continues to play superb in a situational role and had two tackles – one behind the line of scrimmage.

Thumbs down: After building that 20-10 lead early in the second half, the 49ers seemed to go very conservative on offense the rest of the way, as if they were simply content to protect a lead in a game they already had won. They did, of course, but it still would be nice to see them go for the jugular with so much time still remaining, because 10-point leads can disappear fast in the NFL.

Thumbs up: You have to appreciate the work of Joe the Toe, as in Joe Nedney, who routinely drilled field goals of 37, 42 and 39 yards to keep the game out of reach. With the work he's likely to get this year, Joe could have a Sore Toe by the end of the season.

Thumbs up: You've got to love seeing Vernon Davis in the open field as the 49ers went to him early and he turned a short swing pass into a 17-yard gain. Davis also had a 15-yard reception in the first half.

Thumbs down: Now that's he's developing into a playmaker, why not get Davis more involved on a regular basis? Davis had only two passes thrown his way in the second half, one when he was tightly covered in the end zone, and his two early receptions ended up being his only catches of the day.

Thumbs up: After a shaky effort in the season opener, San Francisco's offensive line was blowing Seahawks off the ball Sunday to help account for the team's 256 total yards rushing. We especially liked David Baas' trap block on Gore's 79-yarder in the first quarter. That kind of power block opens up a hole against anybody.

Thumbs up: It was a fine day of work for fullback Moran Norris, who also had some great blocks to spring Gore. Norris also rushed for a career-high 18 yards and had a career-best 15-yard run to go along with three receptions for 17 yards. For a fullback, that's a huge day with the ball in his hands.

Thumbs down: To an illegal block penalty that nullified Allen Rossum's 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, because it was a thing of beauty by one of the game's greatest return specialists, who worked his way around the corner, found his hole, then burst through it up the middle and ran away from defenders to the end zone, only to have it called back. He deserved better on that play.

Thumbs up: The downfield blocking by receiver Josh Morgan was excellent and a factor in several of Gore's big runs. Now, if the 49ers could only get Morgan the football more often. He had no receptions Sunday.

Thumbs up: Just when you think he hasn't done much, Isaac Bruce always seems to get open to make key receptions at key sequences of games. He had two catches on third down to keep the chains moving on one scoring drive and once again was San Francisco's leader among wideouts with four receptions.

Thumbs down: Besides Bruce's four receptions, the 49ers had only one other reception by a wideout. And that went for just one yard to Arnaz Battle. The 49ers, most definitely, have to get their wide receivers more involved in the offense for it to ultimately be successful.

Thumbs up:After a shaky outing in the opener, San Francisco's coverage teams were excellent, with Michael Spurlock downing one of Andy Lee's punts at the Seattle 4-yard line. Nate Burleson did bust a 19-yard punt return, but the Seahawks averaged on 18.7 yards on six kickoff returns. Lee once again made a difference in the game, averaging 46.8 yards on his six punts.

Thumbs up: You just can't help notice Patrick Willis making plays all over the place, and he continues to make his impact felt in coverage. You can bet Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck felt Willis' impact on that hit near the goal line that sent Hasselbeck to the sidelines to stay at the end of the first half, too.

Thumbs up: Once again, veteran Dre Bly's presence was felt in the secondary. Bly knocked away a pass and is becoming the essence of a play-making nickel back.

Thumbs up: Speaking of the secondary … Shawntae Spencer, the guy who beat out Bly for the starting job at right cornerback, continues to play sticky-tight coverage in man-to-man situations. No wonder Spencer got the starting job. He has been a lockdown corner through two games.

Thumbs down: First, Michael Spurlock fumbles the snap on third down and the 49ers don't convert. Second, Spurlock rolls right and, instead of running in open space in front of him, overthrows a wide-open Vernon Davis on third-and-long. Both plays came in the Wildcat format, which is looking more like a sick pussycat for the 49ers, and a formation they might want to avoid in the future. OK, the 49ers call it their "Taser" formation, but if they're going to keep bringing it out, they need to get it down in practice a little better first.

Thumbs up: New starting free safety Dashon Goldson made his ball-hawking presence felt with the first interception of his career, and it was a fine play on a tipped ball that Goldson tracked down at the San Francisco 12-yard line to halt one of Seattle's two invasions into 49ers territory in the second half.

Thumbs up: Any ceremony to honor former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo is a long time coming in this town. To see DeBartolo on a stage thanking San Francisco fans Sunday was not only heartfelt, it was heartwarming.

Thumbs down: Eric Heitmann is San Francisco's most consistent lineman and has reached stud territory on this team, but he practically tackled defensive lineman Cory Redding on a third-down play in the second half, resulting in a 10-yard penalty that wiped out a fine first-down catch by Delanie Walker. But for as much as Heitmann does for this team, we forgive him.

Thumbs up: The 49ers' ball-control offense assembled multiple time-consuming drives, including a 13-play drive on San Francisco's first offensive possession and a 16-play drive that ate nine minutes, 27 seconds off the clock between the third and fourth quarters. The 49ers held the football for 34:31 on Sunday – a full nine minutes more than the Seahawks. That's keep-away football at its best.

Thumbs down: We know he's still getting familiar with his new team, but right tackle Tony Pashos – getting some playing time in place of struggling Adam Snyder – had a glaring holding penalty after the 49ers had marched into the Seattle red zone in the fourth quarter. That turned a second-and-9 into a second-and-19 and the 49ers ultimately had to settle for a field goal.

Thumbs up: We'll mention this every time the Carolina Panthers lose, which happened again Sunday when those cats were dropped 28-20 by the Atlanta Falcons. That's a 0-2 start for the Panthers, whose first-round pick in next year's draft is owned by the 49ers. The lower the Panthers fall, the higher that extra first-rounder becomes for the 49ers.

Thumbs up: The 49ers are 2-0 with both wins coming over teams they figure to battle this season at the top of the NFC West. As far as starts to a season go, this one couldn't be any better for the lads in red and gold.


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