SAN FRANCISCO -- Given the honor of throwing out the first pitch prior to the San Francisco Giants' playoff game Saturday night against the Cincinnati Reds, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was off the mark.He climbed atop the mound at AT&T Park and promptly delivered a pitch that was outside the strike zone and in the dirt. It was met with many groans from the sold-out crowd.Apparently, he was saving his strikes for Sunday.MAIOCCO: Alex Smith opens with best half of his career
Smith had the best regular-season game of his career in a 38-3 victory over the overmatched Buffalo Bills at Candlestick Park.Smith completed 18 of 24 pass attempts for 303 yards and three touchdowns. It's the first time in eight NFL seasons that Smith has thrown for 300 yards or more in a 49ers victory.His passer rating was a perfect 158.3 -- the first time he has ever achieved that mark. The 49ers improved to 13-0 in Smith's career when his passer rating was over 100.Smith threw a touchdown pass of 43 yards to Kyle Williams in the second quarter. He ended the first half with a 28-yard touchdown strike to Michael Crabtree. And early in the fourth quarter, he hit Mario Manningham for a 10-yard touchdown in the rout over the Bills (2-3).In the first half alone, Smith completed 12 of 15 passes for 237 yards. His 28-yard scoring strike to Crabtree with 24 seconds remaining gave the 49ers a 17-3 lead at halftime.That play came after Bills coach Chan Gailey decided against running out the clock at the end of the half. The Bills took over after Colin Kaepernick's fumble with :49 remaining in the half.But the Bills got greedy. Linebacker Patrick Willis forced a fumble of tight end Scott Chandler. Safety Dashon Goldson recovered, and the 49ers had the ball at the Buffalo 28-yard line.Smith hit Crabtree on a corner route on the next play.Crabtree finished the first half with five receptions for 103 yards. It was his first touchdown catch of the season. Another 41-yard reception was nullified by Frank Gore's chop-block penalty.The 49ers scored their first touchdown on Smith's 43-yard pass to Kyle Williams early in the second quarter.Anthony Dixon's three-yard touchdown run with 1:11 remaining gave the 49ers a 45-3 lead.
PROLIFIC OFFENSE: In addition to Smith and Crabtree's production, the 49ers also received a 106-yard day rushing by Gore on 14 carries, and 106 yards receiving on five receptions from tight end Vernon Davis.It was the first time the 49ers have had a 100-yard rusher, two 100-yard receivers and a 300-yard passer in the same game since Nov. 19, 1961 against the Chicago Bears. John Brodie threw for 322 yards; C.R. Roberts rushed for 107 yards; and Aaron Thomas (131) and R.C. Owens (107) both had more than 100 yards receiving.It was the first time the 49ers had a 100-yard rusher, just one 100-yard receiver and 300-yard passer in the same game since Charlie Garner, Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia did it Oct. 8, 2000 vs. the Raiders.KAEPERNICK CONTRIBUTION: Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a few more wrinkles added for him in the 49ers' offense. Kaepernick was in on a handful of plays. On his first snap, he lined up wide and retreated into the backfield as a decoy as Gore gained 7 yards.Late in the first half, Kaepernick fumbled the ball to the Bills at the end of a 6-yard run. In the third quarter, Kaepernick gained 15 yards to the Bills' 1-yard line to set up a touchdown that gave the 49ers a 24-7 lead.Kaepernick took over for Smith at quarterback with 10 minutes left in the game. On his first snap after taking over he scored on a 16-yard run to make the score 38-3.CULLY IN THE HOUSE: Third cornerback Chris Culliver played nearly every snap as the 49ers employed their nickel defense against the Bills, who typically play three receivers.Culliver entered the game in pass coverage for 121 snaps through four games, according to Pro Football Focus, and allowed only four catches for 30 yards. Culliver has a 42.4 passer rating against him when targeted. That rating dropped some more when Culliver hauled in an interception of a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass in the third quarter. It was Culliver's second career interception.JACOBS SITS: Veteran running back Brandon Jacobs is healthy. He went through a full week of practice to get prepared for Sunday's game, but the 49ers coaching staff did not declare him one of the 46 active players.Jacobs, whom the 49ers signed in the offseason to a one-year, 1.575 million contract, was envisioned as the team's short-yardage back. But he did not suit up because he has no role on special teams.Perhaps the 49ers could've used him in the first quarter. With a second-and-goal situation on the Bills' 1-yard line, Gore was stuffed on consecutive run plays with the 49ers jumbo package in front of him. The 49ers settled for David Akers' 19-yard field goal.In the third quarter with the same personnel grouping that included Leonard Davis, Daniel Kilgore and Will Tukuafu, Gore scored on a 1-yard run to give the 49ers a 24-3 lead.AKERS TIES RECORD: Akers has kicked at least one field goal in every regular-season game in which he has played with the 49ers. The 21-game streak ties a 49ers record set by Bruce Gossett from 1970 to '72. . . The 49ers had a nice two games against the AFC East. A week ago, the 49ers beat the New York Jets 34-0.