SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Coverage of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers Fly Past Cardinals, 27-6

The 49ers are who we hoped they could be for one night.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 29: Quarterback Troy Smith #1 of the San Francisco 49ers dives for a first down against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 29, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Troy Smith

    The San Francisco 49ers' defense had their banner game of the 2010 season.

    And that's not all. The team now finds itself inexplicably just one game out of first place as they opened up a No. 10 can on the Arizona Cardinals in a 27-6 win on Monday Night Football.

    Yes, the Cardinals had the 49ers' snap counts completely figured out, as have so many of the 49ers' recent opponents. But the 49ers' defense had the Cardinals' snap counts even more figured out. The Cardinals had eight first downs all night, compared to the 49ers' 26 of them.

    Even Brian Westbrook got in on the fun for once, with an out-of-the-blue 136 yards and his first touchdown of the year on an eight-yard run. He'd had nine yards on five carries thus far the entire season.

    Troy Smith, for all his weaknesses, is now 3-1 as the 49ers' starting quarterback. He got in the first score of the game with a 38-yard touchdown strike to Michael Crabtree in the first quarter, then wisely just more or less handed off for the remainder of the game.

    But the Niners' defense deserves the credit on this one. They held the Cardinals to thirteen yards rushing on the whole night. Thirteen!

    And yes, these 4-7 San Francisco 49ers, who started off the season 0-5, are now a game out of first place the Monday after Thanksgiving and a completely legitimate playoff contender.

    Takeo Spikes got in the last laugh of this weekend's Twitter smacktalk warfare, intercepting Derek Anderson with a minute-fifty left in the third. He set off a crazy lateral-throwing goose chase that almost got taken to the house, but Spikes was ruled down at the point of the interception after replay review.

    The 49ers' most glaring weakness was replacement placekicker Shane Andrus. Andrus missed a field goal and had another blocked for a 2-for-4 evening. He was at least 3-for-3 on extra point attempts.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who wants to see more gratuitous nudity out of Anne Hathaway when she co-hosts the Oscars.