49ers notes: Harbaugh wins debut against rival

September 12, 2011, 3:31 am
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jim Harbaugh was only going to get one chance to win his NFL coaching debut. And he accomplished that against Pete Carroll, his heated rival from their days together in the old Pac-10 Conference."What I'm thinking about right now (is) the great feeling of winning, the great thrill of winning a game," Harbaugh said after the 49ers' 33-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Candlestick Park. "That's what makes football fun."I'm sure it won't be too many hours until I really start thinking about this week."RATTO: Conservative Harbaugh ekes out first NFL win
Harbaugh's parents, Jack and Jackie, were in attendance at Candlestick Park, and even Mom has coachspeak down to a science."We take them one game at a time," Jackie Harbaugh said. "Every game is a momentous occasion."And the next momentous game will take place Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Candlestick Park.Harbaugh became the sixth 49ers coach to win the season opener in his first year. Harbaugh is the seventh coach to win his first game. Defensive line coch Jim Tomsula won his first game after taking over as interim coach for fired Mike Singletary at the end of last season.Harbaugh's victory against Carroll did not include any catching post-game exchange at midfield, such as the "What's your deal?" back-and-forth after Stanford's decisive win over USC in 2009.Instead, the winning coach told Carroll, "See you on the road." Carroll responded, "Yep." The two men shook hands.
The 49ers travel to face Seattle in the return game on Dec. 24.CRABTREE NOT HEALTHY: Receiver Michael Crabtree, who did not play in any exhibition games, played just one snap in the second half due to soreness in his left foot. He underwent X-rays after the game, which proved negative, he said.That was a relief to Crabtree, who feared the pain in his foot was a recurrence of the fracture that required surgery in July. Crabtree returned to full practice last week.
"It was hurting so bad that I was concerned," Crabtree said. "If it's like that, I'll just have to fight through it."Crabtree played about a dozen snaps in the game and caught one pass for 4 yards. He did not start the game, but got onto the field for the second play of the game. He watched the final 1 12 quarters from the sideline.
Earlier in the game, Crabtree was clearly frustrated on one play deep in Seahawks' territory when quarterback Alex Smith did not spot him in the end zone on a failed third-down pass play that led to a short David Akers field goal.
"I shouldn't have done that," Crabtree said of his reaction. "I'm so competitive, and I spazzed out a little."APPLYING THE PRESSURE: The 49ers' pass rush had a field day against Seattle's offensive line, which was playing without left guard Robert Gallery. The 49ers sacked quarterback Tarvaris Jackson five times. Parys Haralson and Justin Smith recorded two sacks apiece, and Ray McDonald came through with a sack to end the Seahawks' first drive."We had a good game plan going in," McDonald said. "We knew we had to keep Tarvaris in front of us. We knew he was a good running quarterback. We stayed in our rush lanes and did our job."NO-FRILLS OFFENSE: It wasn't exactly a thing of beauty for the 49ers's offense. The unit managed just 209 yards of total offense and 12 first downs. But the 49ers did not allow any sacks or commit any turnovers, either."Yeah, we were on top of it," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "That's where we are going with the blitz pickups. Just being smart with the football and not making dumb decisions. All in all, just coming out with the 'W.'"Quarterback Alex Smith got a bear hug from Harbaugh after his 1-yard touchdown run gave the 49ers a 16-0 lead with :12 remaining in the first half."We were all pumped up," Smith said. "I was jacked. You don't get to make plays like that as a quarterback very often, and to make it was special. To be able to be accountable to your teammates, to hold up your end of the deal, I was jacked."It was Smith's third career rushing touchdown and his first since scoring on a naked bootleg on Dec. 14, 2006, against Seattle.The play certainly had its share of risks. If Smith had been stopped at the goal line, the 49ers might not have been able to get the field-goal unit onto the field to get any points out of the situation. The 49ers were out of timeouts after Harbaugh lost a replay challenge earlier in the game."(If) he doesn't get in, we're scrambling to clock it and try to get the field goal before the half," Harbaugh said. "Rolling the dice, putting it in his hands, and he came up big for us. Toughness. Great job sticking it into the end zone by Alex."LEE'S CAREER DAY: Punter Andy Lee, a two-time Pro Bowler, set new career-highs in both gross average (59.6) and net average (54.2). Those marks were also the highest totals in 49ers' recorded history. THIS 'N' THAT: First-year defensive lineman Will Tukuafu made his NFL debut early in the second quarter. On his first play, Tukuafu caught a fumble out of the air after Haralson sacked Jackson. Tukuafu returned the fumble 12 yards to set up an Akers field goal. . . . Tramaine Brock, the team's third cornerback, made his first career interception on Jackson's desperation heave at the end of the first half. . . . On the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 911, recording star Brian McKnight sang the national anthem. Seahawks players, interspersed with military personnel, held the flag on their side of the field. "Coming out, 911, it was a very emotional time before the game," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. "It's good to come out of it with a win." . . . . Rookie Aldon Smith saw significant action as a defensive end in the 49ers' nickel package, as he replaced Haralson in those situations. Smith batted down a Jackson pass attempt for his only stat of the game. . . . Safety Reggie Smith and Brock were also inserted into the 49ers' nickel defense, replacing nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and starting free safety Madieu Williams. . . . The only known injuries were Crabtree and special-teamer Blake Costanzo, who appeared to sustain cramps at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The 49ers no longer release a post-game injury report.