Click photo to enlarge
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (18) fumbles the football on his team s final possession of the game as he is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith (94) in an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/The Express-Times, Matt Smith)
Apparently it's time to come up with a nickname for defensive end Justin Smith's fumble-forcing play that clinched the 49ers' comeback victory Sunday at Philadelphia.
"That is the defensive equivalent of 'The Catch,' " defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday.
Fangio understands Smith's heroics came in merely the fourth regular season game, not quite the stage as Dwight Clark's game-winning touchdown reception against the Dallas Cowboys amid the "luster" of the NFC Championship game on Jan. 10, 1982.
"But it was a tremendous effort," Fangio added.
Smith was on his 70th play of the game when he caught -- yes, caught -- wide receiver Jeremy Maclin from behind and punched out the football. Dashon Goldson recovered the fumble, and the 49ers ran out the final two minutes for a 24-23 triumph.
"They called 60 passes in that game. The most physically taxing thing that happens in a football game is pass rushing," Fangio said. "For him to have that type of energy and hustle at that time of the game, knowing how his body had to be feeling at that point, speaks volumes about what he is as a person."
But how will it be remembered in 49ers lore? The Catch-up? The Strip? The JustinTime? The iForce? Nose tackle Ricky Jean Francois is expected to make his first career start Sunday when he replaces Isaac Sopoaga as the 49ers (3-1) host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1). Sopoaga has not practiced this week. He is believed to have a staph infection; the 49ers are not confirming that. "We're very confident in Ricky," Fangio said. Likely to back up Jean Francois is undrafted rookie Ian Williams, who's been inactive all season. Right tackle Anthony Davis said he was fined $25,000 for tripping in Sunday's game, a penalty he committed twice. Davis plans to appeal. Eagles defensive end Jason Babin criticized the league for fining him $15,000 for a roughing-the-passer penalty, in which he contacted Alex Smith's neck on the first snap after halftime. Babin also questioned the 49ers' blocking methods. "The funny part was on that play, Trent Cole was high-lowed (by a blocking tandem). You could tell they game-planned it. How are they going to fine me when you see a coach and players game plan to high-low the best pass rusher on our team?" Babin told Philly.com. "He wasn't hurt, but he could have been. The running back comes to cut him, then the other guy comes to hit him high."
Those blockers were running back Kendall Hunter and guard Adam Snyder, who scoffed at Babin's accusations and said he tried pulling up on the play to avoid contact as Hunter tried a low block. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer (toe) did not practice for the second straight day. Cornerback Tramaine Brock (fractured hand) has been ruled out. Roman said wide receiver Michael Crabtree looks 100 percent recovered from a twice-broken left foot. Crabtree was listed as "limited" in practice, along with running back Frank Gore (ankle) and guards Mike Iupati (neck) and Snyder (hamstring). Keena Turner, the 49ers' vice president of football affairs and a former star linebacker, is among seven recipients of the 2011 Community Impact Awards, as presented by the Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy. He will be honored Oct. 12 at Stanford.