NFC West leading 49ers on a roll as November nears

San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley claims he caught

quarterback and seatmate Alex Smith checking out his trending

Twitter self while on the team plane awaiting takeoff Monday night

from Arizona.

Ha, says Smith, who insists he has no idea how to tweet.

”I don’t even have a Twitter,” Smith quipped with a grin

Tuesday during a quick walk through the empty locker room. ”I

don’t know what Twitter is.”

They can argue that one all they want, yet nobody will deny that

Smith and the 49ers (6-2) have been downright dominant of late,

including a 24-3 Monday Night Football rout of the Cardinals in a

hostile road stadium. In a near-perfect night, Smith completed 18

of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns without an

interception. His passer rating: 157.1.

Smith’s stellar outing sparked coach Jim Harbaugh’s now

heard-everywhere ”gobble gobble” remarks when asked about the

confidence of his quarterback.

”Just gobble, gobble, gobble turkey. That paints a pretty good

picture. He’s a very confident guy,” the coach said.

Following that up Tuesday, regarding the 2005 No. 1 overall

draft pick, Harbaugh said the reference was a quick way to sum up

all the skepticism about Smith’s abilities under center.

”I think anybody that watched a lot of TV shows in the `70s

could relate to it, could understand it,” he said. ”Sometimes,

you get people talking and there’s a lot of low content-to-word

ratio. Got to call that out, I guess.”

Staley, for one, hadn’t heard Harbaugh use the ”gobble gobble”

one before, but Harbaugh is always pulling out new catchphrases.

Smith has long been criticized, even booed by fans at Candlestick

Park before leading the 49ers back to the postseason last year.

”Just a lot of talk, gobble gobble,” Staley said. ”I don’t

think that’s ever been an issue in the locker room, just people

talking. He’s won 19 games in the last two years and there’s still

questions if he’s a leader of this football team. There are no

questions in this locker room. He’s our quarterback.”

Suddenly, this season is looking an awful lot like that special

2011 run. Harbaugh’s team is in command of the NFC West again as

November nears, heading into the bye week on a roll.

And not to forget the stingy, top-ranked defense, which hasn’t

allowed a touchdown in four of the past five games.

”They’re accomplishing some great things,” Harbaugh said.

”That’s really impressive, really hard to do in this league.”

And Smith is doing so much right on the other side of the

ball.

He went 14 of 15 for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the first

half alone, connecting with Michael Crabtree on both TD tosses as

the 49ers built a 17-0 halftime lead. Randy Moss caught a 47-yard

TD pass, and Smith hit nine receivers in all.

Not that anybody was tracking Smith’s spot-on accuracy as he

piled up the completions.

”I was not conscious of what his statistics were,” Harbaugh

said. ”Yeah, that registered, that he was on a hot streak.”

Crabtree wound up with five receptions for 72 yards.

”Guys made terrific plays after the catch, Crabtree

especially,” Staley said.

Now, they all get to rest.

A few weeks back, Harbaugh struck a deal with his players that

for each win before the break he would give them an additional day

off on top of the NFL’s four-day mandate. San Francisco lost to the

defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Oct. 14, then beat

the Seahawks and Cardinals in a pair of divisional prime-time

performances.

So, they are not due back in the building until next Tuesday –

though many planned to stay around and work out at team

headquarters.

”That was a deal we made – from the TV show `Let’s Make a

Deal,’ with Monty Hall,” Harbaugh said. ”Not a lot of them knew

who Monty Hall was or what the show was. Just wind back three weeks

ago, we said for every win they get before the bye they would get

one more day off than the four that you get under rule. They were

good for it, we were good for it.”

Next up is a third straight divisional game – and another chance

to create space in the West standings – against St. Louis on Nov.

11 at home.

The 49ers are pretty certain Smith will bring his best again to

face the Rams.

”I believe it’s possible Alex Smith was trending on Twitter,

yes,” joked long snapper Brian Jennings, who will enjoy some time

this week with his wife and two sons, saying, ”They’re all breaks

for me. I’m a long snapper.”

Notes: Staley will stick around this week and continue to work

to regain strength – and get back over 300 pounds – after being

limited in practice ahead of the Arizona game because of illness.

He played against the Cardinals, but got out of breath, used an

inhaler for the first time, and had oxygen on the sidelines. ”I

was getting pretty tired as far as out of breath. It was harder for

me to catch my wind,” Staley said. … TE Vernon Davis also plans

to stay put in the Bay Area rather than try to get home to

Washington, D.C., and deal with the problems from Superstorm

Sandy.

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