Gore Turned Loose In 49ers Rout of Rams- Frank Gore who just five days ago was arguably the angriest of the 49ers after a tough loss to the Colts bounced back Thursday night in St. Louis as did the 49ers. Gore ran for 153 yards on 20 carries while the 49ers defense rallied for a shut down game they desperately needed in a 35-11 rout of the Rams. In addition to Gore's big night, the 49ers defense had their best game since last November in holding the Rams offense to just 188 total yards. In the third quarter the defense played their best quarter of the season allowing the Rams just seven total yards. Playing without Patrick Willis, NaVarro Bowman led the defense in the trenches with 5 tackles, 2 assist and a forced fumble. Truman Brock made a huge defensive play in the second quarter tipping a Sam Bradford pass away from it's intended receiver and into the hands of Donte Whitner when the 49ers were leading 7-3 and St Louis was driving. The interception and touchback seemed to be the turning point of the game as the 49ers started to gain confidence as the game wore on.
Night Kaep- Colin Kaepernick on the evening was 15 of 23 for 167 yards, not his best game however efficient enough for the win. Anquan Boldin had five receptions for 90 yards and scored the 49ers' first touchdown of the evening in the second quarter. Boldin caught a 20 yard pass from Kaepernick near the sideline, dodged one Rams defender before diving into the end zone to give the 49ers their first lead since week one versus the Packers. Vernon Davis had a quite game with just two catches for 18 yards coming off a hamstring injury. One of the two catches by Davis however was a 12 yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick in the third quarter which gave the 49ers a 21-3 lead. The 49ers played it closer to the vest and seemed to make it a point Thursday night to make sure the running game would play an integral part in this contest.
After Further Review, Gore Takes It To The House- Another key moment in this contest was late in the second quarter with the 49ers driving before halftime. The 49ers were able to move the ball rather efficiently during a drive that ate up 3:19 late in the second quarter. Amongst the things the 49ers had to overcome was a pass to Boldin being ruled incomplete as he was not able to control the football while falling out of bounds. Twice Gore had runs that seemed to pick up enough yardage for a first down but the ball was spotted short of the mark each time. After a second rushing attempt was ruled short of the first down marker after an officials review, the 49ers decided to go for it on a fourth and one from the St Louis 34. With the Rams stacking the line, Gore took the handoff from Kaepernick and blew right through an open lane created by the offensive line. Gore easily won the footrace to the end zone. This key touchdown was huge and gave the 49ers a 14-3 halftime lead.
The Defense Rests- Going into the game the 49ers knew the defense would not only have to come up huge, but they would also need help from their offensive unit to stay fresh. The 49ers offense in this game had a time of possession stat of 31:45. This is key because this allowed the defense to stay off the field longer after being on the field an average of 36 minutes a game so far this season. The defense was more efficient in being able to get after Sam Bradford and keep the Rams offense from really doing any damage for most of the evening. A key series came early in the game after Phil Dawson missed a long 53 yards field goal. The Rams started a series at their own 43 and were able to drive to the 49ers 23 yard line. On a third down play from the 49ers 23 yard line the defensive front line gave Bradford very little time in the pocket forcing him to overthrow Tavon Austin who was wide open towards the end zone. This forced the Rams to settle for a Greg Zuerlein field goal. The 49ers defense would give up a few plays underneath but tightened up each time St Louis got near midfield. Bowman had two sacks. Ahmad Brooks had one and a half sacks while teammate Glenn Dorsey also had a sack. Tarell Brown led the 49ers with six tackles while Michael Wilhoite had four. The defense only allowed the Rams one series after their field goal that lasted as long as seven plays. Donte Whitner and Tramaine Brock had strong games in the secondary. Corey Lemonier added three tackles.
Why Win Was Huge- To say the 49ers needed this game was an understatement. The 49ers needed to show that they could play a game under pressure with high stakes. While the Rams may not seem like a high stakes opponent to some, for the 49ers this was a divisional game against a team they did not beat last season. Also, the 49ers needed this game to keep from falling even further behind in the NFC West and also in the overall NFC standings. A loss and a 1-3 mark would not have meant the end of the season. The road for the rest of the season would have been far more difficult for the 49ers with a wild card bid maybe their more likely and perhaps only scenario to make a post season appearance. These games matter even more now after losses in the last two. The 49ers no longer have a margin for error as they will need to take care of business from here on out injuries not withstanding. The 49ers have this challenge and the hope that Seattle will fall back to earth before the two teams meet again in December. It is early, and 2-2 was not the plan out of the starting gate. This is the hand the 49ers have been dealt and they need to play it. The good news is that a number of injured players at some point should make it back with the team. If the 49ers can start to build off of this win in St Louis, they may yet give Seattle a run for their money.
Next Up- The 49ers get a "mini bye" of sorts this Sunday having played the Thursday Night early week game. The Houston Texans are next up to take on the 49ers October 6th on Sunday Night Football at Candlestick Park. Ironically, the 49ers this weekend will actually be big Houston Texan fans Sunday as they take on the Seahawks in Houston. The extra rest could not have come at a better time for the 49ers who will need plenty of it before the Texans come to Candlestick next weekend. For the 49ers, all the games mean that much more now early season or not.
Game Note- Joe Staley is reportedly fine after a scary moment late in the game. Staley was bent backward on a running play just after the two minute warning and seemed to be in a lot of pain. Soon however Staley would waive off the cart and with some assistance left the field on his own.