Alex Smith

First half update: 49ers’ defense pulling all the weight so far

The only thing worse than the 49ers settling for field goals six times: David Akers missed three of them and the Cardinals blocked two of his attempts. Yet, because the 49ers’ defense has stymied John Skelton completely, in perhaps the best overall defensive half they’ve had all year, the 49ers still headed into the locker room with a 9-0 lead.

The 49ers’ offense has been in the red zone a few times and have continually tried to score through the air with limited success. Although Frank Gore looks healthy and ready for a full day’s work, in the red zone the 49ers have gone toward the more finesse side of things, to the point where Brian Billick called what they were doing “cute” twice, and like Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Billick didn’t mean it in a complimentary way.

Patrick Willis has been incredible yet again so far, with an interception and a pass deflection where he leaped and swatted the ball away like Dwight Howard. The defense has taken the ball away from the Cardinals twice and only allowed 28 yards, but they still need to hold tight in the final two quarters after a half where the Niners couldn’t put Arizona away.

It’s not like the offense needs Cialis; they’ve gained 249 yards, they’ve converted a few third downs and even a fourth down. They haven’t punted or turned the ball over. Kyle Williams has looked good on a few catches, Michael Crabtree has 67 receiving yards and Gore has rushed for 64 yards on 14 strong carries (one where Gore bounced it to the outside for a significant gain that caused Billick to gleefully admit that he has a “man crush” on Gore).

The offense has been toying Arizona for a half (a toy handed to them by their teammates on defense), but they refuse to finish the Cardinals off.

Offensively this game has been marred by a few drops (two by Braylon Edwards, who looks asleep) and a couple errant throws by Alex Smith — the most egregious a pass that would have been an easy touchdown to Crabtree from about 25 yards away.

The 49ers receive the ball to start the second half. Let’s see if Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman and the 49ers can make some adjustments that lead to a touchdown instead of another try for Akers in soggy conditions.

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