I took a couple of things out of Saints 25, 49ers 22 Monday night. One: San Francisco has to be the sloppiest, ugliest team in the league through two weeks, and that takes in a lot of ground (Cleveland, Carolina, Buffalo). A constant stream of mistakes -- some forced by the Super Bowl champs, some completely of the 49ers own doing (by stars and scrubs alike) -- tells me the Niners might be the best team in an awful division, but they won't give anyone trouble in the playoffs unless they clean up their act. Like, yesterday.
Two: I was very impressed with the poise, presence and accuracy (71.8 percent against Gregg Williams' weird Saints' fake-blitzing front) of Alex Smith. Did he do enough to win the game? No. But he stood toe-to-toe with Drew Brees on a very windy night and was done in by the incompetence of his teammates.
Several 49er fans have written me over the years, saying they've had enough of Smith and it's time to move on. Last night, he executed embattled offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye's plan very well. Down by eight in the last two minutes, Smith drove the Niners 82 yards in eight plays in 53 seconds -- completing four of five throws for 63 yards on the drive -- to the tying touchdown.
There's lot to be depressed about if you're a 49ers fan. You don't know if Mike Singletary is just a great talker and not a great coach. You don't know if your corners will hold up. You don't know if your offensive weapons will get along and play nice. But your quarterback? One night doesn't answer all the questions. But Smith played one of the most complicated defenses in football and wasn't fooled.
Four other quick thoughts:
• Mark Sanchez's performance Sunday -- when he outplayed Tom Brady -- is proof you can't make judgments of finality based on one game. What impressed me against New England was Sanchez's performance on third-down conversions. He completed 5-of-6 third-down passes on the Jets' four touchdown drives, two of them for touchdowns, as well as the two-point-conversion pass to Braylon Edwards. You aren't going to face a lot of defenses as stout and confusing as Baltimore's, and Sanchez looked awful in Week 1. But he looked commanding on Sunday.
• Re: Edwards' morning DUI, in which he tested at twice the legal limit: In 48 hours, he's shown why the Jets, barring a complete personality turnaround, won't pursue a long-term deal with him after the season. His immature taunting (once called, another one should have been called) against New England Sunday was reckless and cost the Jets 15 yards. Then his DWI was the second embarrassing off-field incident he's had in the past year.
I see the Jets going after Santonio Holmes, who is a better player, if Holmes stays on the straight and narrow the rest of this season after his four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy. Why Holmes and not Edwards when both seem to be problem children? Because the Jets think Holmes is better, and they think he's been scared straight by this suspension.
• Baltimore coach John Harbaugh deserved the $15,000 fine for contact with an official Sunday. He smacked an official in the chest on the sideline to show where the Ravens had contacted Carson Palmer after they were called for driving the quarterback into the ground. The blow surprised me. That's not Harbaugh.
• With Reggie Bush out for six to eight weeks with the broken fibula suffered last night at Candlestick, I look for tight end David Thomas -- the "move'' tight end you see all over the Saints' formations -- and wideout Lance Moore to pick up the slack. Sean Payton trusts both players to be exactly where they're supposed to be. Thomas is more of a weapon in the pass game than Payton has been able to use with his reliance on Bush, and Moore has some of Bush's quickness in tight space.
Now onto your e-mail:
HE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT THE MEDIA ACCESS. "You are an intelligent man, Peter King, but I think that insisting on access to players right after a game so that you can watch and report on someone suffering and dealing from a heavy loss (your link to the Favre story back in January) smacks of pretentious and arrogant 'buttinski-ism'. The media's self-righteous ('We're the Media!') demand for access gives us stories that are interesting, but sometimes makes reporters look like mere gossip columnists ('Look how Favre suffered! Sidney Rice and Favre Cried and Hugged!').''-- David Moore, Pasadena, Calif.
Well, OK. I realize there is no sympathy and very little empathy for the news media and how we do our jobs. But I ask you this: Would you rather read the antiseptic news conference quotes, 50 minutes after the game when all the emotion has been removed from the equation? Or would you rather get a sense of how the players really felt a few minutes after the game? I can't believe you wouldn't want to know real feelings, but to each his own.
DOESN'T MATTER. "Why did John Fox announce the decision to start Jimmy Clausen on Monday? Wouldn't it have been better to let the Bengals prepare for Matt Moore, then announce it later in the week?''-- Ted, Gastonia, N.C.
Maybe. But the difference in styles between Moore and Clausen is not great. It's not like preparing for Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb. I don't think it's a very big factor.
SURE HE CAN. "At his current level of play, is it possible for Clay Matthews of the Packers to break Michael Strahan's sack record?''-- A Yang, Minneapolis
Well, he's got six, and the record is 22.5. So can Matthews get 17 sacks in 14 games? In Dom Capers' defense, which is made for opportunistic outside linebackers, of course he can.
WE'LL SEE. "You were not wrong about Tampa Bay. The Bucs played the two worst teams in the NFL these first two weeks. The Bucs have only proven that they are no worse than No. 30 out of 32.''-- Mike M, Garyville, La.
Well, I wouldn't be so sure Carolina and Cleveland are the two worst teams in the league. Buffalo and St. Louis are in the discussion there. But Tampa Bay's defense is too strong for it to be in the bottom three or four, I think.
A VOTE FOR THE 18-GAME SCHEDULE. "I am getting tired of hearing you preach against the 18-game schedule in every one of your articles. Personally, I asked many of my friends and they are all for more football. I would assume that the league will expand rosters by a few players and I would also think an extra bye week would be a good thing. Have bye weeks from week 4-8 and week 10-14. The players are going to get paid for it and over their career play the same number of games. If they get paid for these games, what's the problem? Football is too short for most fans, so I would like to see more.''-- From Brent, of Raleigh, N.C.
My concern is that there are enough prominent players hurt during the course of a 16-game season; injuries happen more readily to tired and worn-out players. But you're going to win. The owners are going to 18 games.
LET'S GIVE IT A FEW WEEKS. "First off, love MMQB! Thanks for taking the time and sharing your thoughts with us. Second, the Chiefs are 2-0, and they are winning games with their defense that normally they would have lost in the past couple of years. Is it time for us Chiefs fans to get excited, or are they going to break our hearts like they have in the past? To me, it seems like the Chiefs are learning how to win, and the recent coaching moves are really starting to pay off.-- Keith, Warrensburg, Mo.
They're getting big boosts from their rookies, that's for sure. I'm still looking for the Charlie Weis tutelage with Matt Cassel to pay off. Cassel still looks shaky, and you're not going very far if you have to try to win despite your quarterback. But Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster and Tony Moeaki have been impactful in the first two weeks, and I'm not sure anyone thought Eric Berry would have that much help early on in the rookie class. I'm sure the Chiefs are on the right track, but I don't think their offensive line and passing game are at playoff levels yet.