SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers blew out the Bills by 41 points, but the game was close late into the second quarter. With a minute until halftime the Bills were losing by seven points and they had the ball. They had just put together an 80-yard field goal drive against the 49ers elite defense. They were fighting and they were having some success.
But then Patrick Willis stripped Scott Chandler, Alex Smith threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the very next play to make the score 17-3 at halftime and the Bills didn’t score another point for the rest of the game. In the fourth quarter, the 49ers second-string defense forced the Bills’ first-string offense to go three-and-out. That’s how bad the Bills played.
After the game, I asked Donte Whitner in the locker room what changed for the Bills after Scott Chandler’s fumble. Here’s what Whitner said:
WHITNER: You can see their body language. When you’re on the road and you’re playing a good football team and you turn the football over, it deflates you. And that’s what we wanted to do – we wanted to jump on them early, we wanted to be physical we wanted to run the football and we wanted to be physical on defense by not letting them run the football – and that’s what we did. That’s a good offense over there. Coming into today they had the most touchdowns in the league.
ME: How could you tell they were deflated? Could you describe their body language?
WHITNER: There’s only so long you can go through a week with a coaching staff talking about certain things and they don’t work. Eventually the players start to quit on you. I’m not saying they quit, but the body language said they weren’t really into it. I just feel for those players over there because I know how hard they work, I was there for five years. To continually see them go through the same things that I went through and we went through as a defense and as a team…it’s not getting better. There’s only one certain ways you can get better with that, and that’s bring in a new coach, bring in a new philosophy and try to change the culture. That’s what you need if you want to go from a losing team to a winning team – you need an entire culture change.