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Around the NFC West: 49ers edition

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Alex Smith delivered when it mattered Monday night. Branch: "Let's not get carried away. It remains to be seen if the Niners' eight-play, 82-yard thing of beauty in their 25-22 loss to the Saints will be seen, in retrospect, as a coming-of-age moment for the embattled quarterback -- a stinker Sunday in Kansas City will make it seem like an aberration. But has he ever delivered quite like that in the clutch in his six-year career? His fourth-quarter performance in a 24-14 win in Seattle in 2006 is the only moment that jumps to mind."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Mike Singletary wasn't lying when he made pregame boasts about his team, but neither could 49ers deliver on his behalf. Cohn: "And what about offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye? He has been portrayed as slow thinking, mentally encumbered. He called a smart, effective game. He did not seem dithering, a man who could not call plays in a timely fashion. Give the man his credit. Allow the man his dignity. He is not why the Niners lost. He was not the impediment."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle gives 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky high marks for slowing the Saints' offense.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers of last season never recovered from a wrenching defeat to the Vikings. Can the current 49ers recover from a wrenching defeat to the Saints? Maiocco: "The one element of this game that might have a long-lasting positive impact on the 49ers was the play of Smith and the offensive line. Smith completed 23 of 32 passes for 275 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He was not sacked in the game. And when he absolutely had to come through, he was up to the challenge."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' players sounded defiant Monday night. The feeling in the locker room after the game Monday night in no way resembled the subdued feeling in the locker room following that 2009 defeat to the Vikings. The 49ers were much more alive and boisterous Monday night.

Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group was impressed by what he saw from the 49ers' quarterback.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News wonders how many games such as this one the 49ers can endure.