SAN FRANCISCO — Like a Frank Gore sweep, it started slowly, gathered momentum and finally took off like a rocket. The 49ers stopped holding themselves back at Candlestick Park on Sunday, and the result was jaw-dropping: a franchise-record 621 yards of total offense, and a 45-3 thrashing of the overmatched Buffalo Bills.
You like balance? The Niners ran for 311 yards and passed for 310, becoming the first team in NFL history to break 300 in both columns in the same game.
“It means a lot, man, just being a part of this,” tight end Vernon Davis said of the yardage record. “You're talking about legends who played here. Legends — Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice. To be able to perform on this level, and do it better than what they did? I mean, that's a huge honor.”
With a 34-0 shutout of the New York Jets a week earlier, San Francisco has routed consecutive opponents by a cumulative 76 points. You have to go back to the Bill Walsh era, victories over the Falcons (35-7) and Rams (48-0) in the final two games of the 1987 season, to find that sort of superiority by the 49ers.
Asked whether Sunday's game was as dominant a performance as he's seen from the Niners, linebacker Ahmad Brooks answered, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.” And then he added another “yes,” one for each teammate who scored a touchdown.
By the late stages of the game, the Bills hardly seemed to be trying. When the Jets disappeared in similar fashion in Week 4, it was considered an indictment of Rob Ryan's team. When back-to-back opponents wave the white flag, you have to wonder if the 49ers aren't just beating people into submission.
For much of the first half, though, this was anything but a runaway. The Niners hurt themselves with untimely penalties and poor kick coverage, and failed to punch the ball into the end zone in short yardage.