SAN FRANCISCO — This is the live blog for the 49ers Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills. I’ll update this frequently with observations and analysis from the press box.
12:00 First surprise of the day: Brandon Jacobs will not play. He’s inactive. The other 49ers inactives are A.J. Jenkins, LaMichael James, Scott Tolzien, Trenton Robinson, Joe Looney and Ian Williams.
The Bills inactives: Tarvaris Jackson, Johnny White, Delano Howell, Kirk Morrison, Kraig Urbik, Cordy Glenn and Spencer Johnson.
12:15 The Bills’ defensive coordinator and assistant head coach is Dave Wannstedt. Wannstedt was hired as the Chicago Bears’ head coach in 1993, and he cut QB Jim Harbaugh after the 1993 season. Do you think Harbaugh has forgotten? Do you think he holds a grudge?
1:22 Colin Brown will start at right guard for the Bills instead of Chad Rinehart. The starter, Kraig Urbik, is injured and will not play.
1:23 The 49ers won the toss and elected to receive. Last season they almost always deferred. Do they not trust their defense as much this season?
1:25 Kyle Williams will receive the kickoff. It seems he’s taken the job of kick returner away from Ted Ginn Jr.
1:25 Williams returns the kick to the SF 14. Not a good return. Maybe Ginn should still return kicks.
1:30 On third and 1 Greg Roman calls a brilliant play – a play action deep pass to Vernon Davis – and it works, but Mike Iupati is flagged for holding. Alex Smith cannot convert third and 12, and the 49ers punt.
1:32 The 49ers force the Bills to go three-and-out on their first offensive drive. On third and 7, Ryan Fitzpatrick sailed a pass over Steve Johnson’s head. C.J. Spiller did not get any touches.
1:38 The 49ers march 79 yards in three plays: Gore up the middle for 19, Smith deep to a wide open Vernon Davis off play action for 53, and Gore up the middle for 7. Three great play calls by Greg Roman.
Then he went conservative. On second and goal from the 1, he called a Gore run up the middle. Gore got nowhere. On third and goal from the 1, Roman called another Gore run up the middle, this time with no wide receivers on the fied. Again, Gore went nowhere. Roman needs to call better goal line plays. Frank Gore is not a good goal line back. Why not try a fade to Randy Moss or a play action pass to Vernon Davis? 3-0 Niners after Akers makes the short field goal.
1:41 Leodus McKelvin returns the kick 59 yards after Darcel McBath and Larry Grant miss tackles.
1:53 Alex Smith completes a 41-yard pass to Michael Crabtree, but it’s called back because Frank Gore was correctly flagged 15 yards for a drive-killing chop block. Bills ball at their 12 yard line with 1:30 left in the first quarter. The 49ers offense can move the ball, but they’re killing their own drives with penalties.
2:00 Fitzpatrick just threw back-to-back first down passes to close out the first quarter. The first pass was an 8-yard gain to Donald Jones, who was being covered by Carlos Rogers. The second was a 14-yard pass to Steve Johnson, who beat Tarell Brown near the sideline. It seems like Fitzpatrick has learned not to test Chris Culliver. He’s having success throwing at Rogers and Brown.
2:10 Ryan Lindell just made a 31-yard field goal for the Bills to tie the game 3-3. The Bills drove 80 yards easily on that drive before Ryan Fitzpatrick threw behind Donald Jones on third and 2 from the Niners’ 8 yard line. Rogers and Brown each gave up two receptions while they were in man coverage. Donte Whitner gave up a 20-yard completion to TE Scott Chandler over the middle of the field. It seems Fitzpatrick has figured out who to attack on the 49ers defense.
2:12 Mike Iupati gets flagged for a false start on first down. Then, Alex Smith hits Michael Crabtree over the middle. Crabtree gains 19 yards after the catch. Then, Alex Smith hits Kyle Williams down the right sideline with a beautiful back-shoulder pass. Williams breaks a tackle and runs it in the end zone for a 43-yard TD. 10-3 49ers with 9:54 left in the first half.
2:20 The 49ers just forced the Bills into a five-and-out. Fitzpatrick overthrew C.J. Spiller deep down the left sideline on third and five. Spiller had a step on NaVorro Bowman. 49ers’ ball at their own 3 yard line.
2:30 With a 7-point lead, Greg Roman is back to the conservative play calls, which has led to two third-and-very longs. Kendall Hunter bailed the 49ers out of the first one, rushing up the middle for 12 yards. And Alex Smith bailed them out the second time – scrambling for 24 yards.
2:33 Alex Smith has 198 passing yards in the first half. That’s a career high. His previous high was 195 against the Seahawks on December 12th, 2010.
2:36 The 49ers are in field goal territory with 50 seconds left in the half and Greg Roman gets too cute. He brings Kaepernick on the field to play wide receiver. Kaepernick runs a fly sweep to the left, gains 6 yards, gets hit, fumbles and the Bills recover. How about calling that play for someone who’s actually run it in a game?
2:42 And the Bills give the ball right back to the 49ers. Fitzpatrick completes a meaningless first down pass to Scott Chandler deep in the 49ers territory with 30 seconds left in the half. Patrick Willis stripped him and Dashon Goldson recovered at the Buffalo 28 yard line. The Bills are about as bad as the Jets. Good grief.
2:46 On the very next play, Alex Smith connects with a wide open Michael Crabtree for a 28-yard TD. 17-3 49ers. Alex Smith is 12-for-15 with 237 yards and 2 TDs. I said the Bills were about as bad as the Jets, but I was wrong. The Bills are worse. They can’t stop the run or the pass.
3:07 Fred Jackson gains 7 yards on the first play of the Bills drive and 4 yards on the second play, but on the third play the Bills try to pass. Fitzpatrick fakes a handoff and rolls out to the right, only to be planted on his back immediately by Ahmad Brooks for a loss of 11. The Bills punt a few plays later. 49ers’ ball at their 34 yard line.
3:15 The 49ers offense makes another TD drive look incredibly easy. After a false start on first down, Alex Smith hit Vernon Davis running a wheel route down the right sideline for a 24-yard gain. After a Joe Staley holding penalty, Smith hit Crabtree over the middle for a 10-yard gain, and on the next play Frank Gore ran up the middle for a 31-yard gain. It’s like the Bills’ defense isn’t on the field. Frank Gore jumped over the pile from 2 yards out to score. 24-3 49ers.
3:18 Coming back to the Bills for a moment, they’ve quit. And it’s the second week in a row they’ve quit. Head coach Chan Gailey should be fired.
3:21 The Bills move the ball all the way down to the 49ers’ 20 yard line on two plays: Fitzpatrick to T.J. Graham for 20 yards. Carlos Rogers was lost in coverage. And Brad Smith ran the Wild Cat for a 35 yard gain. Just when it looks like the Bills have something, Fitzpatrick throws a dead duck to Donald Jones in the end zone and Chris Culliver picks it off. 49ers’ ball at their 6 yard line with 7 minutes left in the third quarter.
3:36 The third quarter just ended and the 49ers have the ball at the Bills’ 17 yard line. The Bills can’t stop the 49ers’ rush attack, so they can’t stop anything. So Roman brings in Kaepernick to play QB. He hands off the Gore, who picks up 7 yards and a first down up the middle. Alex Smith is back in the game.
3:38 Very next play, Mario Manningham runs a quick out route, the cornerback covering him bolts to the inside, and Alex Smith hits Manningham for a 10-yard touchdown. There wasn’t a defender within five yards. 31-3. That’s a 7:48, 13-play, 94-yard drive. The Bills are an embarrassment.
3:45 The Bills offense goes three-and-out, of course.
3:46 Alex Smith and the first-string offense is still on the field up 28 points with 13 minutes left in the game.
3:56 Alex Smith overthrew Vernon Davis deep down the right sideline, but Smith followed that up with an 8-yard run and an 17-yard run on fourth and 2. Yes, Harbaugh went for it on fourth and 2 up 28 points with 10 minutes left in the game. Alex Smith finally goes to the bench. Kaepernick’s in the game at QB.
4:00 Kaepernick fakes an inside handoff and runs around the left end for an easy touchdown. The Bills didn’t even touch him until he crossed the goal line. 38-3 49ers. How can the Bills defend the read option so poorly? They practice against it every day when they face Brad Smith. Chan Gailey has got to go. This game is a fireable offense.
4:05 The semi-pro football team from Buffalo just went three-and-out against the 49ers’ second-string defense.
4:10 The 49ers just broke the franchise record for yards gained in a single game: They have 601.
4:14 I’m going down to the field. Back at you soon with grades and more.