49ers' latest win should bring national respect

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Jim Harbaugh, the man of no comparisons, is suddenly generating buzz that his spot-on, creative coaching resembles that of the late Hall of Famer, Bill Walsh -- and that his 49ers are performing much like those great San Francisco teams of old.

Alex Smith, the oft-maligned former first-round pick, is now the Bay Area's quarterback of the hour -- after another Harbaugh-groomed QB, Stanford's Andrew Luck, faltered on The Farm against Oregon and might have hurt his Heisman Trophy chances in the process.

Ricky Jean Francois, the outspoken defensive tackle, has no qualms acknowledging the 49ers have finally silenced any remaining doubters after Sunday's thrilling 27-20 victory against the New York Giants.

Six straight wins and the second-best record in the NFL hadn't quite done the trick for some skeptics.