Around the NFC West: 49ers on to Ravens

There was reason to wonder Sunday whether the San Francisco 49ers' minds were already wandering ahead to their Thursday game against the Baltimore Ravens. Such was the unusual inattention to detail on offense and special teams through the first half of the 49ers' inevitable 23-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

The defense played its usually solid game, enabled by Cardinals quarterback John Skelton. But this matchup offered little of lasting consequence. It's on to bigger and better things for the 49ers.

Now that the Arizona game is mercifully over, they can look ahead to Baltimore without consequence.

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News had the same feeling watching the 49ers' ninth victory in 10 games this season. Purdy: "The 49ers have proved conclusively over the past 11 weeks that they own one of the NFL's elite defenses. The Ravens have been proving the same thing for years. And now, we will see both of those defenses on the same patch of grass, on the same night, for the first time since 2007 when the final score at Candlestick Park was Baltimore 9, San Francisco 7. This time around, we may not get such a wild high-scoring barnburner. Thursday could be a 6-3 game. It could be a 3-0 game. Heck it could be the NFL's first scoreless tie of the overtime era. At the very least -- and totally without exaggeration -- the 49ers defense and the Ravens defense are the principal reasons each team is atop its division."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says fullback Bruce Miller and right tackle Anthony Davis suffered injuries against the Cardinals. Maiocco: "Davis underwent X-rays after sustaining a right ankle sprain in the third quarter. He returned to the game briefly, but did not play in the fourth quarter. Alex Boone filled in for Davis, who walked with a limp after the game. He said he did not know the result of the X-rays." Noted: The fact that Davis returned to the game suggests his injury wasn't one requiring a long-term recovery. But with the next game now only three days away, it's fair to wonder whether Davis will be available.

Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers quarterback Alex Smith wasn't satisfied with the offense's performance Sunday. Ratto: "In short, while the rest of the league is seeing a spectacular march to glory from a team who’s glory days are long ago, the 49ers are seeing offensive inefficiencies. Thus, while Smith is admitting to frustrations about the offense’s ability to reprise its 48-3 win over Tampa Bay, the rest of the NFL is marveling at what the 49ers actually do: Namely, not let the opposition even rise to a level of frustration about the opportunities it wastes because there are no opportunities to be had."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers a quick 49ers report card featuring a "C" grade for Smith.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers could not have lost to the Cardinals even if they had tried losing to them.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News passes along a long list of 49ers notes, including this one: "The 49ers' time of possession (44 minutes, 16 seconds) is their third highest since the stat was first tracked in 1981. They held the ball for 45:04 in a 1991 win against Detroit and 44:33 in a 2002 overtime win at Oakland."

Monte Poole of Bay Area News Group says the 49ers' offense discovered new dimensions Sunday. Poole: "There was Michael Crabtree, the projected star, productive and lively, playing as advertised when the 49ers selected him in the first round of the 2009 draft. And there was Kyle Williams, the last of three sixth-round picks in 2010, reminding one and all that he, too, can give a defense fits."