The scandal during college football Saturday was that Michigan State accused Ohio State of doctoring their own offensive game film before sending it out. Now we know the truth: Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer didn't send the full reel to the Spartans because he sent the real game plan, and all its option-related craziness, to San Francisco 49ers' head coach Jim Harbaugh. Or, that's certainly what it looked like in the first half of the 49ers' game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
"We are always going to do what we think is best to win the game," 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Roman said simply.
In what was certainly a poke in the eye to the Jets, their much-ballyhooed "Wildcat" package (which isn't really a Wildcat most of the time), and their supposedly dangerous quarterback rotation of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, Harbaugh pushed his offense to the "College" setting. He rotated starter Alex Smith and backup Colin Kaepernick, who ran the Pistol formation for Chris Ault at Nevada, and had the Jets on their heels for the first 30 minutes of the game.
Going into the tunnel, the Niners led, 10-0. They had 19 rushing plays to just 14 pass attempts. In the second half, San Francisco's defense turned it on, Sanchez was awful, and the 3-1 49ers laughed their way out of town with a 34-0 beatdown that was an embarrassment to the Jets on all possible levels.
In the first half alone, the 49ers had six different rushers -- Smith, Kaepernick, running backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, and receivers Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams. They added receiver Ted Ginn Jr., and running backs Bruce Miller and Anthony Dixon in the second half. The first scoring play came from Kaepernick, who want off left tackle on a designed run with 13:43 left in the first half behind crack toss blocking. Smith was throwing waggle plays as he did under Meyer at Utah years ago, and the Jets seemed to have no answer for any of it. In the second half, Gore and Hunter scored rushing touchdowns against the Jets' formerly great run defense, which gave up a total of 245 yards on the ground.
Early in the fourth quarter, cornerback Carlos Rogers added a 51-yard fumble return touchdown when receiver Santonio Holmes went to the ground with a foot injury. That was the end for the Jets faithful, who started booing everyone wearing a green uniform. Sanchez, who completed just 13 of 29 passes for 103 yards and an interception, was given the dreaded vote of confidence by head coach Rex Ryan after the game.
Meanwhile, in the story that will surely dominate tomorrow morning's blabber shows, Tim Tebow, who also played under Meyer at Florida, completed his first pass as a Jet. It was a nine-yard throw to tight end Dedrick Epps, who fumbled. The ball was recovered by Rogers, and the game resumed without stoppage of play to commemorate Tebow's little landmark. Oh, Tebow also ran twice ... for a grand total of zero yards. Smith won the ground battle of ex-Meyer quarterbacks by rushing twice for 12 yards.
The 49ers didn't actually run many "Wildcat" plays, but neither did the Jets. And in the interest of avoiding minutiae, we'll just pretend that any television announcer seems to know what the actual Wildcat is. We'll just say that after bragging about their super-secret game plan for months, the Jets got an object lesson in option football from their opponent today. Can't wait to see if Harbaugh will admit, at some point, that he was making a specific statement with this particular strategy.
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