PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Far from home, the San Francisco 49ers made themselves very comfortable.
The 49ers return to the Bay Area with a two-game road winning streak, including a stunning rally for a 24-23 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday. San Francisco sits atop the NFC West in great part because of its performances in the East.
Rookie coach Jim Harbaugh opted to keep the 49ers in Ohio after their win at Cincinnati last weekend. That looks like a very smart move after San Francisco (3-1) survived Michael Vick's 491 yards in total offense and came back from a 23-3 third-quarter deficit.
"They came closer together, they grew stronger, they practiced really well in Youngstown," Harbaugh said. "(They) were fully acclimated to the time switch, but mainly, how do you gauge that? There's no way to do that.
"And how do you gauge the heart of our football players?"
Perhaps by the way they stormed back to break a five-game slide against Philadelphia (1-3), which has lost three straight to plummet to the bottom of the NFC East.
Leading the way were veterans Frank Gore, Alex Smith, David Akers and Patrick Willis. Gore's 12-yard run with 3 minutes remaining tied it, then Akers - Philadelphia's career scoring leader who signed with San Francisco as a free agent this summer - kicked the decisive extra point.
The much-maligned Smith went 13 for 17 for 201 yards in the second half, with TD passes of 30 yards to Josh Morgan and 9 to Vernon Davis. Then Gore, who didn't start because of a sprained right ankle, powered into the end zone, and Akers converted the decisive extra point.
"For us, since I've been here," said Smith, who is in his seventh season, "playing on the road has been a big test for us. And to get two wins on the East Coast, coming from being down here, it's a big win."
Smith thought the stay in Youngstown, where the team's owners have roots, was a key to the win.
"I thought it was great," he said. "It helped us focus on football ... like a small training camp, spending a lot of time with teammates, and I think that means something."