A season that has not been the way they imagined it took a positive turn Saturday night at Monster Park, as the 49’ers, led by QB Shaun Hill he looked like a star QB in the teams 20-13 win over the Bengals. Frank Gore was another big factor, as all night he looked like the back the Niners thought they would have this year, rushing for 138 yards. The Bengals looked disinterested, stuck in the mud while the 49?ers looked much more like the fresher team, the Niners walked away with their 4th win of the season against 10 losses.
Despite it not being the most exciting game you’ll see between two teams that are out of it for the playoffs, some storylines did develop as the night went along, the most interesting of which was the play of Hill, who played well and could have a bigger role in the teams future. With usual starter Alex Smith done for the year and second string Trent Dilfer hurt, Hill was poised and seemed in control all night, going 21-for-28 passing for 197 yards with one touchdown throwing, and another on the ground. If it’s Smith’s team to start 2008, you can bet that Hill might not be that far behind on getting some playing time.
As for the Bengals, another frustrating night in which their defense could not get off the field in key situations, and their offense was unable to generate much. Other than a pretty 52-yard TD pass from Carson Palmer to Chris Henry that gave the Bengals a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter, they were held in check for most of the night. Palamer ended 19-for-31 for 252 yards with the one score. The Bengals running game was not good at all, as they were held to 61 yards on 19 carries, with their longest run of the night being 9 yards.
The Niners running game put up an impressive 156 yards on 37 carries, (4.2 yards per carry), with Frank Gore leading the way with 138 yards on 29 carries. His rushing was the key to the Niners holding the ball for 35:59 on the night while the Bengals had it for just 24:01. The big blow for the always soft Bengals D came late in the first half, when Hill led an impressive drive that ended with a TD pass to Vernon Davis from 17 yards out with just :09 left in the half to make it 14-10.
From there in the third quarter belonged to the Niners, with Gore piling on the yards, they led two drives that ended with Joe Nedney field goals from 29 and 38 yards out that increased the San Fran lead from 14-10 to 20-10. Cincy responded with a Shayne Graham 35-yard field with 11:18 left that made it a one score game at 20-13, but were unable to get that tying score, as their last shot was a Chad Johnson attempt at a pass in the end zone that looked close, but the ball came out and the officials ruled it was incomplete.
The Niners will look for their second straight win as they are at home for the Tampa Bay Bucs.