The 49ers had the right plan against the Jaguars and Alex Smith executed it well.
Consider it progress for Smith as he tries to answer questions about his long-term viability as a starting quarterback.
Smith played well from the start of the game, a departure from previous weeks. His passing helped stake the 49ers to a 17-3 halftime lead in a game they won 20-3. The 49ers needed to see Smith start strongly and help put away an opponent.
The pass-oriented game plan made sense against Jacksonville because the Jaguars have struggled against the pass this season. Previous Jacksonville opponents had posted a combined 98.3 passer rating. The Jaguars lack dominant pass-rushers, preventing them from exploiting weaknesses on the 49ers' offensive line.
The 49ers will probably need more balance against most opponents. They aren't going to beat every team by handing the ball to Smith and asking him to throw 40-plus passes. That is why the approach Sunday should not necessarily be mistaken for a dramatic philosophical shift by the 49ers as they seek to tailor the offense to Smith.
Smith has vast college experience working within a spread offense. He has functioned most effectively from a spread attack this season, largely because the 49ers were playing from far behind. The 49ers need to keep those things in mind when Smith is their quarterback.
The approach made sense based as much on the opponent as it did based on Smith's presence in the lineup.
The 49ers now head to Seattle with a more confident Smith under center.