The New York Jets were a delicious treat for the San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco used a solid running game, a smothering defense, a little bit of the wildcat-style offense and even blocked a punt to cruise to a 34-0 victory. That romp came a week after a loss at Minnesota in which the 49ers were just as outclassed as the Jets were Sunday.
”For sure, the whole week there was more of an edge; it was just a bad taste in your mouth,” Alex Smith said. ”I don’t think that goes away in one day. We wanted to be 3-1 and got it done.”
They got it done so emphatically that Jets coach Rex Ryan was visibly shaken by the lopsided defeat, so much so that he struggled to describe how poorly his Jets (2-2) performed.
”It’s obviously unacceptable,” Ryan said. ”It starts with the coaches. The players … they’ve got to dig deep, look down at the themselves.”
Ryan took no solace from his team losing to one of the NFL’s best. San Francisco (3-1) has everything Ryan wishes his team did.
The 49ers ran for 245 yards and Carlos Rogers returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown.
Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick – on a wildcat-like option – all ran for scores. The defense had an interception and three fumble recoveries, and special teams blocked Robert Malone’s punt to set up the final touchdown.
Defensive end Aldon Smith called it a statement win.
”Yeah, that’s right,” he said. ”After the last game, some people were questioning us and we knew what we were capable of. We played all together as a unit and proved what we are as a defense.”
And as an offense. And on special teams.
Rather than head back to the West Coast after the Minnesota loss, coach Jim Harbaugh chose to have his team stay in eastern Ohio and practice at Youngstown State all week. Last season, the 49ers did the same thing and won both games, in Cincinnati and then at Philadelphia. The 49ers wound up going to the NFC championship that season, and if they play anything like they did against the Jets, they could very well find themselves advancing deep into the postseason again.
”This is more the way we are accustomed to playing,” said Harbaugh, the 2011 Coach of the Year.
It was San Francisco’s first shutout since beating the St. Louis Rams 26-0 last December.
Meanwhile, the Jets lost top wide receiver Santonio Holmes to what appeared to be a serious left foot injury. It was the first time New York was shut out since losing 9-0 to Green Bay on Oct. 31, 2010, and the Jets’ biggest shutout home loss since falling 37-0 to Buffalo in 1989.
If Holmes misses significant time, the Jets would be without their two biggest playmakers after All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis was likely lost for the season with a torn ligament in his left knee last week at Miami.
”We got to play with who we’ve got,” Mark Sanchez said. ”None of those guys are going to get better overnight.”
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Holmes caught a pass from Sanchez for 4 yards, but his left leg appeared to go out on him. The ball flew out of his hands, and Rogers picked it up and returned it for a score.
Holmes left the stadium in a golf cart, holding crutches, his left foot in a boot.
Ryan said Friday that the Jets would wait to put Revis on injured reserve until he has surgery in a few weeks, keeping him available in case New York goes to the Super Bowl. If the Jets play like this the rest of the way, getting to the playoffs will be a tall task.
Alex Smith was efficient, going 12 of 21 for 143 yards and no touchdowns, but more importantly, no interceptions. Sanchez had another poor game, going 13 of 29 for 103 yards and an interception.
”We knew Sanchez holds the ball a little longer and we felt we could get after him,” Aldon Smith said. ”We pretty much did.”
New York finished with just 45 yards rushing.
The wildcat-style offense worked early – but for the 49ers and not Tim Tebow and the Jets.
Kaepernick put the 49ers up 7-0 early in the second quarter, taking a direct snap and running untouched off left end for a 7-yard touchdown. Kaepernick also had a 17-yard run earlier in the game.
On the Jets’ next possession, Tebow threw his first pass with New York, a short one over the middle to tight end Dedrick Epps, who was upended immediately by Dashon Goldson as the ball came loose. Rogers recovered, and the fumble call was upheld by video review. Epps injured his right knee on the play.
With just over a minute left in the first half, the 49ers were aggressive despite starting the drive at their 26. A 23-yard catch by Vernon Davis on first down got things rolling, and San Francisco ended the half on David Akers’ 36-yard field goal.
Boos and some chants of ”Tee-boww! Tee-boww!” rang out as the Jets went three-and-out for the second straight possession in the second half. It never got any better for New York.
NOTES: Mario Manningham, a Super Bowl hero with Giants before joining the Niners as free agent, returned to the Meadowlands and had three catches for 47 yards, plus a 28-yard gain on an end-around … Akers also missed from 55 and 40 yards wide right … New York lost fullback John Conner with a hamstring injury … San Francisco got 62 yards rushing from Gore, 56 from Hunter and 50 from Kaepernick.