Posted September 27, 2013

All is well for 49ers again thanks to dominant win over St. Louis

San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams
Vernon Davis hauled in a touchdown catch as part of San Francisco's 35-11 win Thursday. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Vernon Davis hauled in a touchdown catch as part of San Francisco’s 35-11 win Thursday. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

With less than a minute remaining in the first half Thursday, facing 4th-and-inches from the St. Louis 34-yard-line, the 49ers finally decided enough was enough.

The defending NFC champs spent the past few days answering questions about everything from a 1-2 start to the handling of Aldon Smith’s off-field troubles to whether Colin Kaepernick could even succeed as an NFL quarterback anymore. And then, in the blink of an eye, everything was back to normal.

Frank Gore took that fourth-down carry — after replay overturned a first down he appeared to have on the previous snap — and burst through the line for a 34-yard touchdown. That play gave the 49ers a 14-3 lead, and they never looked back in a decisive and important 35-11 win over the Rams.

“We’re still the same team as last year,” said running back Frank Gore on the NFL Network’s postgame show. Gore also revealed that the 49ers held a players-only meeting prior to coming to St. Louis. “Last two weeks, things wasn’t going our way. We sat down and talked and said we have to get back on track.”

Smith, who this week entered a rehab facility after a DUI arrest, was not in the lineup for San Francisco. Neither was six-time Pro Bowler Patrick Willis, who stood on the sideline in street clothes nursing a groin injury. Shorthanded, on a short week, the 49ers badly needed someone to get their season back on track. NaVorro Bowman answered the bell.

Arguably the most underappreciated member of San Francisco’s phenomenal linebacking corps, Bowman stepped up in place of his missing cohorts and terrorized the Rams all night. Specifically, he lived in Sam Bradford’s pocket, chalking up a pair of sacks, three tackles for loss and an icing-on-the-cake forced fumble in the fourth quarter. Rams running backs Daryl Richardson and Benny Cunningham served as turnstiles as Bowman flew past them repeatedly.

Sparked by that performance (and aided by the ineptitude of St. Louis’ offense), the 49ers finally punched back after being smacked around by Seattle and Indianapolis the past two weeks.

“I woke up this morning and I told our general manager [Trent Baalke], I said, ‘I’m going out here and I’m going to get you this win today,’” Bowman told the NFL Network’s Alex Flanagan. “We’re not used to losing.”

San Francisco’s offense, 29th in points and 27th in yards through three weeks, followed suit. Jim Harbaugh’s crew came out featuring the one-receiver, multiple tight end look that served it so well in 2012. From there, the 49ers fed Frank Gore against the Rams’ putrid rush defense.

Gore yet again showed that he has plenty left in the tank, ripping off runs of 18, 27 and 17 yards during the first two quarters, before culminating that early outburst with his 4th-and-1 score. The 30-year-old Gore finished with 153 yards, part of a 219-yard effort on the ground from San Francisco.

“It’s not that we were playing bad football,” Kaepernick said. “We were just missing things we shouldn’t have been missing.”

As cathartic as this victory was for San Francisco, it was equally depressing for the host Rams. They entered Week 4 in the same spot as their Thursday opponent: 1-2 and coming off a humiliating Week 3 defeat.

The Rams’ high point for the evening came in taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. A chance to steal momentum back in the second quarter went awry when Donte Whitner picked off Bradford on a diving interception in the endzone.

Pick an aspect of St. Louis’ game and it went through the motions. The offense started with Bradford misfiring on what should have been a touchdown pass to Austin Pettis, and ended with all of 18 yards rushing (31 fewer than San Francisco backup running back Kendall Hunter). The defense was gashed on the ground for the second straight game, while struggling cornerback Cortland Finnegan somehow allowed a 3rd-and-19 touchdown pass to swing momentum.

It would have taken a near-perfect effort for the Rams to pull out a win. They did not even come close to approaching that level, leaving the door wide open for San Francisco. The 49ers, after a bit of a sluggish start, rolled on through.

“We played together, we played as one, played as a family and put it all out on the field,” Vernon Davis told ESPN. “We knew that we had to win this game, no matter what.”

11 comments
felix1108
felix1108

Let me git this rite,4x pass 2 the corner no Super Bowl now beat the Ram's & their back!?!?

reed
reed

As a 49er faithful, I need to see my beloved team beat another team of quality (Texans are next) before I say that they are "back" or even "coming back".

JJ Watt and his crew ain't no St Louis. Maybe Schaub and Bradford may be interchangeable, Houston still has Foster and Johnson. 

San Francisco was a 3-pt favorite over St Louis - it will be interesting to see the line for Houston

matt37
matt37

Getting rolled by Seattle doesn't make you a bad team and pummeling the Rams doesn't make you a good team.  Relax, sportswriters.  I know you're on a deadline, but we'll see what SF is as the season progresses.

BryanBroyles
BryanBroyles

Wait, so the 49'ers lose to a pretty good team in Indy, an excellent team in Seattle, and look bad in both games.  They win against a terrible team in St. Louis (putrid was the word above for their defense) and somehow they're "back?"  Who writes this stuff?  


GeorgeRoach
GeorgeRoach

On the one hand they didn't beat the Rams in either game last year.  On the other, Kap still didn't look good last night.  He had two or three near interceptions and he seems to avoid running upfield.  Did Harbaugh order him not to run?  Davis was in the line-up but only got the one pass in the end zone where it was safe for him.

The defense was great especially in view of the injuries.

Jon8
Jon8

All is well for the 49ers because they beat the Rams?!

I don't think so Sonny Jim!

JimKirkwood1
JimKirkwood1

@BryanBroyles Definitely. Sportswriters seem to think the most recent game is what the rest of the season is. SF has some great pieces, but it isn't last year

matt37
matt37

@Jon8 Eh, I wasn't worried when we got hammered by Seattle.  The Colts game wasn't a big deal either-banged up and we got embarrassed, but it's one game.  We could easily be 6-3 or 7-2 in 5 weeks. 

BryanBroyles
BryanBroyles

@JimKirkwood1 @BryanBroyles Watching the announcers and writers take on the current Steelers' team is instructive. The narrative is always based on two years ago, or two decades of being a good team.  The Steelers are not good on D this year, and "this is what 'Big Ben' can do to you" still gets played like it's true, when it hasn't been for all of last season and all of this season.  The 49'ers were expected to be great, and they aren't.  They might become great as the season goes on, but beating a bad team they should beat doesn't make tings "all's well."  It fits into the narrative that St. Louis is somehow a good team because they had more success last year than expected.  St. Louis is bad.  San Francisco is not as good as they were expected to be.  Those realities can't penetrate the sports media narrative.

Jon8
Jon8

On the other hand, you could go 2-2 before you hit the bye week, losing to Texas and Tenn!