They say to make the playoffs is to get a ticket to the dance. And to follow an appropriate motto, there’s another saying that goes "dance with the one you brought."
"We’re going to play our game," Alex Smith said. "We’re not going to be somebody we’re not."
The statement that Saturday’s impending game at Candlestick Park is the biggest of the 49ers quarterback’s football life is as unoriginal as it is obvious.
And when asked how he intends to compete with New Orleans "Who Dat" quarterback Drew Brees, Smith’s answer, too, was obvious.
"I have no idea," Smith quipped. His response, though delivered in typical nonchalant Smith-fashion, contained a slight underlying tone of irritability, as if the question had been posed one too many times.
"I really don’t care," he said. "I’m looking to out-score him. He can throw for however many yards he wants to."
Thus far, Brees has done just that.
No man in the NFL threw for more passing yards during the regular season than the Saints quarterback, and his shattering of Dan Marino’s single-season passing yards record with 5,476 yards solidified Brees’ status as one of the best passers in the game today.
But as good as the Saints’ offense has been, San Francisco’s defense has been equally as vaunted. And behind this Jim Harbaugh-brand of football, Smith, despite being statistically trounced by Brees, is finally in the playoffs.
"You can say what you want. [There are] a lot of different ways to win games in this league," Smith said, acknowledging the Saints record-setting offense. "It’s kind of what you aspire to get to, no question, offensively."
Much has also been made of the 49ers’ red-zone woes, something they tried to remedy in their 34-27 win over the St. Louis Rams. It was San Francisco’s highest scoring tally since Week 5’s 48-3 tuning up of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I was joking with K-Dub [Kyle Williams]," Michael Crabtree said, the 49ers’ leading receiver with 874 yards and four touchdowns. "I was like, ‘Man, we’re just going to have to take it from the 50 and go all the way in.’"
Jokes aside, Crabtree has been instrumental on offense. And this weekend’s task hasn’t been lost on him.
"Playing against those guys like Drew Brees, all those receivers they have, it’s a challenge," he said. "You want to bring your A-game. Even though you do that every week, it’s like a bigger stage right now."