SAN FRANCISCO - Jim Schwartz sprinted so fast toward Jim Harbaugh that it almost looked as if Schwartz either wanted to fight him or hug him in the middle of Candlestick Park.

Schwartz did neither, of course, and Harbaugh knew he wouldn't.

All the Detroit Lions coach could do was accept that it was over, once again, on Harbaugh's terms.

The San Francisco 49ers had just won a 27-19 body-slam struggle Sunday night, and there would be no repeat of last year's infamous handshake histrionics.

"Thought it went good," Harbaugh said later of the postgame handshake. "That's the thing, it's just about this matchup, two good teams.

"

In the most obvious (and quickest) anticlimax in the history of NFL anticlimaxes, Schwartz raced to Harbaugh, slowed down, shook Harbaugh's hand graciously, and the two men exchanged a quick back slap or two before separating.

It was over in less than two seconds, and everybody went on with the rest of their post-"Handshake Gate" lives.

It was symbolic, though, just as last year's angry meeting was symbolic. The 49ers and Lions are two physical, in-your-face teams, and there will always be edgy feelings when they meet.

But the 49ers are quite happy that they won last year, and produced the first handshake eruption, and won again Sunday by being tougher, smarter and more resilient.


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The 49ers took an early lead with some sharp Alex Smith passing, kept the lead as the defense kept Detroit out of the end zone until the late-going, and kept hitting the Lions until it was over.

In a meeting of aggression and swagger, the 49ers won, again, and they might always win. So far they're 2-0, after two tough matchups against NFC North powers, and I don't know who stops the 49ers now.

"Yeah, we expected a physical game," Harbaugh said. "Anticipated that. We got that. They're a physical team. And that's good; that keeps us playing hard and fast and tough.

"Our guys are accustomed to that and aren't going to shy away from that type of ballgame."

It was definitely a hardscrabble game, complete with late hits, face-mask penalties, after-whistle skirmishes and oozing blood.

The 49ers watched tight end Delanie Walker take a few extra shots and Smith get whomped in the nose late in the game by Lions safety John Wendling.

There were also tussles involving several 49ers and Lions defensive lineman Cliff Avril, once when it appeared he was trying to pull off tackle Anthony Davis' helmet.

"I don't think they tried to intimidate us at all," 49ers guard Alex Boone said. "I think they knew we would see right through it.

"We just knew they were going to be physical, and at the end of the day, you've just got to go at it."

These two teams are never going to be smiley happy buddies; it's just not their natures and it's not who their coaches are.

Before the game, NBC's Michele Tafoya reported that Harbaugh had called Detroit a "chippy bunch" and a "late-hit bunch."

When I asked Harbaugh about it at his postgame news conference, he said he didn't recall saying those words.

Later, Harbaugh called me over to clarify that Tafoya was the one who brought up Detroit's reputation in the Friday production meeting and that he merely discussed how he prepared his team to deal with that.

Harbaugh said he was going along with her premise to talk about his team's readiness to deal with that kind of play, and to avoid retaliation if possible.

But at the podium earlier, Harbaugh lauded Smith's toughness for playing through the hit in the face and made it clear what he thought his team proved in the game.

"I think the story of this game: It was a physical game, it was a physical contest," Harbaugh said. "I thought it was a well-played game and pretty clean for the most part.

"And a good competitive match and our guys sucked it up and finished it, and that's what we're most pleased about."

It wasn't about last year's handshake or this year's coach kibitzing -- Harbaugh and Schwartz actually had a brief handshake before Sunday's game, too.

This was about the football, the imposition of the 49ers' will, the grind, the brains and knowledge that the histrionics are over.

When Schwartz sprinted to Harbaugh on Sunday evening, it was a concession speech, wrapped up in flash: Right now, the 49ers are better than the Lions, and possibly tougher than the rest.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.