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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.

What the 49ers did on Sunday — shutting out the Jets, scoring 34 points of their own — was beautiful and it was brilliant. Yes, professional football can be beautiful and brilliant.

Take the beautiful for a moment. The 49ers don't have a powerful, high-scoring offense. Sorry, but it's true. They have to mix brains with brawn, and the brains in this game involved reserve quarterback Colin Kaepernick and what the 49ers did with him.

They brought him in more than usual, introduced him to the league and introduced the league to what he does. The Niners scored their first touchdown on a Kaepernick run to the left, scored on third down even though third down has been Alex Smith's down — not that Smith is great on third down. Kaepernick took a direct snap, ran behind some blocks and blasted into the end zone.

Was Smith threatened by Kaepernick taking that third down?

"That's not an issue," Smith said. "I don't care. We scored. He ran it in."

I put that in just in case you were wondering.

Kaepernick ran the ball five times for 50 yards, and even threw one pass deep to Randy Moss — incomplete. The 49ers, being highly clever, out-Tim-Tebowed the Jets in going to the "other guy." They had Kaepernick running option plays like Tebow; and on his TD, Kaepernick ran a sweep play that Tebow ran under Urban Meyer.

Afterward, Kaepernick was one big smile, a charming, innocent smile.

Does he know why he was involved in Sunday's game?

"It was part of the game plan they put together," he said. "We just go out there and execute what they tell us to."

Did his TD run catch the Jets by surprise?

"Maybe a little bit because we didn't show it before. You still have to play defense."

Does he like being compared to Tim Tebow?

"I want to be me. That's all I'm worried about. I want to go out there and play like myself. I'm hoping they'll use me more and more as the season goes on."

Will they?

"They haven't told me. I just wait and go week-to-week."

With Kaepernick, the 49ers created an imaginative running game. Brains meet beauty. They get big credit for that.

Let's throw out another well-deserved compliment while we're at it. The Niners' defense simply nullified the Jets' offense, as in null and void, as in canceled at the point of delivery. The Jets couldn't run and the Jets couldn't throw. When you get down to it, the Jets couldn't do squat, to use a technical term.

The 49ers' defense revealed Mark Sanchez for what he is — just about the worst starting quarterback in the league. The Niners get credit for making that revelation, and that leads to this blunt statement: The Jets' offense did not deserve to be on the same field as the 49ers' defense, one of the most ferocious units in any season on any team anywhere, any time.

When Jim Harbaugh came to the postgame interview room, he said he used Kaepernick, "just for creativity, a chance to make a play. I felt like it could be successful."

Then he changed topics. This led to an amusing misunderstanding between Harbaugh and me. Sometimes, I think I speak English and he speaks Esperanto, or the other way around.

"That's more like it, as they were saying in the locker room," he announced to the media.

I asked what his players meant by "that's more like it."

"That's what they said," Harbaugh replied.

"I understand they said that," I said. "Do you know what it means?"

&‘"That's more like it?'" Harbaugh repeated, but this time as a question.

"More like it than what?"

"That's more like it," he said, his voice passionate. He waved his fist. "Pleased with themselves, job well done. That's the way I took it."

Bear with me here. Harbaugh was not talking about avenging a loss to the Vikings. He was talking about something even more important. The old Niners teams, the teams that won Super Bowls, preached a standard of play. They didn't talk about beating a specific opponent. The opponent didn't matter, was, in a sense, nameless and faceless. After devouring the Jets, Harbaugh and his players were asserting their own standard of play — that's more like it. They were not referring to the Vikings. They were referring to themselves. Got that?

So, let's bring Alex Smith to the interview room for his own amusing verbal exchange.

One reporter asked if the 49ers had an extra edge after last week's loss.

"For sure," Smith said. "Just a bad taste in our mouth the entire week. I don't think that goes away after a day. It's not like there's a 24-hour rule. The first quarter of the season, the expectation was to be 3-1. Got it done today."

To which I asked, incredulous, "You expected to be 3-1?"

"After last Sunday," Smith said.

Oh.

"The expectation heading into the season was not to be 3-1," he explained. "It was to win the first quarter (4-0). After (last) Sunday we couldn't get that one back."

Smith was laughing the whole time, and he personified the joy and relief and even a slight zaniness on the 49ers.

But maybe there's a serious undertone to the victory. Please don't get sore at me for bringing this up. The 49ers led the crummy Jets only 10-0 at the half.

"Left a few points out there," Alex Smith admitted. "Felt good about it (being ahead), but at the same time the score was still 10-0. They're still one play from getting back in the game."

Forget the lopsided final score, partly a result of a blocked punt and Jets receiver Santonio Holmes strangely flipping the ball to Carlos Rogers. The game lingered at 10-0 a long time and the Jets' offense had lots of chances. A better team might have come back. Maybe the Niners need to put away teams earlier and more forcefully.

And although those trick plays worked and were fun to see — there also were two end-arounds — trick plays are not the basis of an offense. They are the jokers in a deck of cards, not the aces or kings or queens. Sure, you would like to see Harbaugh use Kaepernick more. But you'd really like to see Alex Smith not have to come out on third down.

I bring this stuff up as things to ponder, not as a criticism. For now, what the 49ers did to the Jets was more like it. It sure was.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.