49ers recover to flash past Rams
The 49ers aerial attack beat up on the NFL’s top passing defense Monday night to ensure San Francisco’s third straight victory over the St. Louis Rams Monday night.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick torched a St. Louis secondary that had allowed the fewest number of passing yards through the first five weeks of the season for 343 yards and three touchdowns while leading the 49ers (4-2) to a 31-17 victory over their NFC West opponent.
WR Brandon Lloyd continued to reward Greg Roman’s faith in the veteran receiver by adding a momentum-shifting, 80-yard touchdown, while Anquan Boldin led all receivers with 94 yards and one touchdown on seven receptions.
RB Frank Gore was held to just 38 yards on 16 carries, with St. Louis giving up just 89 total rushing yards on the night.
St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis, whose sensational play as of late has made headlines, ran out of steam, completing 21-of-40 passes for 236 yards while posting just three second-half points.
Leading his team onto the field for just his fourth start of the season, the former undrafted rookie introduced himself to a national audience by carving up San Francisco’s second-ranked defense with an impressive 11-play, 80-yard drive resulting in a touchdown by Benny Cunningham.
While Davis looked to be rolling on offense, Colin Kaepernick struggled to move the ball early against stingy St. Louis (1-4). Following a quick three-and-out to open the game, Rams safety Rodney McLeod forced tight end Vance McDonald to fumble near midfield.
Davis would make good use of his short-field opportunity by tossing his first touchdown pass of the game after CB Chris Culliver bit on a play action fake, leaving tight end Lance Kendrick’s uncontested for a 22-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
But the 49ers special teams, who had been an issue of concern following a pair of shaky games, would set up San Francisco’s first score of the game. After linebacker Dan Skuta forced Davis off the field with a pair of drive ending sacks, safety Eric Reid broke through to force punter Johnny Hekker to squib a 13-yard kick.
Kaepernick could move the ball just seven yards, though it would be good enough to set up a 54-yard attempt for last week’s workhorse, kicker Phil Dawson. The veteran kicker would continue to impress from long distance, splitting the uprights with ease to put the 49ers on the board 14-3.
After running a conservative shovel pass to RB Carlos Hyde with 50 seconds left, a last-minute play call salvaged the 49ers disastrous half in highlight-reel fashion.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins bit on a double move from WR Brandon Lloyd, who streaked past the cornerback for an 80-yard touchdown reception with just 14 seconds on the clock to cut the Rams halftime lead to 14-10.
After the 49ers were held to just 10 rushing yards in the first half, Kaepernick continued to air the ball out. While being flushed out of the pocket, Kaepernick scrambled left to find Boldin in the back of the end zone for his first touchdown catch of the season and a 17-14 49ers lead.
The 49ers struck again at the end of the third quarter. Aided by yet another timely Boldin reception — this time to convert a third and long opportunity — Kaepernick picked apart cornerback E.J Gaines who was crossed up by Michael Crabtree on a 32-yard touchdown reception for a 24-14 lead.
After stuffing running back Carlos Hyde on consecutive fourth-and-one situations to force a pair of turnover on downs, the 49ers defenses continued to stop the disgruntled Davis, holding the Rams to just a 38-yard field goal from kicker Greg Zuerlein.
49ers rookie Dontae Johnson came up with the clinching pick, returning it 20-yards for the final touchdown of the game to solidify a 31-17 victory.
The 49ers will face a more grueling test next Sunday as they travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos Sunday at 5:30 p.m. PDT.