NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - INSIDE SLANT
The Rams endured a third consecutive loss Thursday night, and were outclassed by the 49ers 35-11. The Rams failed to get into the end zone until quarterback Sam Bradford hit tight end Lance Kendricks with a 6-yard touchdown pass with 5:44 to play in the fourth quarter. Opponents have outscored St. Louis 97-42 since the Rams rallied for a season-opening win over the Arizona Cardinals. In addition, the Rams have been outscored 55-6 in the first haklf of their last three games.
"We knew we had a tough schedule," St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn said, "but 1-3 wasn't where we wanted to be. We still believe we have the talent to win games, but we have to work out the kinks."
Kendall Hunter tacked on a 29-yard scoring run for San Francisco with 4:25 left.
St. Louis scored first for the first time this season when Greg Zuerlein drilled a 40-yard field goal with 7:09 left in the first quarter. Zuerlein banked the kick off the right upright.
After failing to convert good field position into points on two of its first three possessions, San Francisco got its offense going midway through the second period. Kaepernick hooked up with Anquan Boldin on a 42-yard pass-and-run play to the Rams 11 as Boldin beat veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
Three plays later, Boldin beat Finnegan again for a 20-yard score with 6:22 left in the half, giving the 49ers a 7-3 lead. Finnegan left the game with a thigh injury and did not return. From there, San Francisco never looked back, playing with the sense of urgency it will need to catch up to division leader Seattle.
"This was a get-back-on-track game," Gore said. "We lost two in a row, so we knew we couldn't lose again."
According to 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and running back Frank Gore, rumors of a rift between them are greatly exaggerated.
Apparently, so are the rumors that the 49ers were in trouble.
With Gore rushing 20 times for 153 yards and a touchdown Thursday night, San Francisco's offense was back in form after floundering in the previous two games.
San Francisco rolled up 386 total yards.
Colin Kaepernick threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-23 passing for the 49ers, which crafted a solid bounce-back performance. San Francisco (2-2) lost the past two weeks to the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts, scoring a total of 10 points.
With just three days of preparation and a flight across two time zones to face a Rams team that went 1-0-1 against them last year, the 49ers looked more like the defending NFC champions.
"We had a big task in front of us tonight, and I thought everyone did a good job," Harbaugh said. "I thought the energy and toughness were there from the start. That was a great job by the team."
Gore, 30, didn't run like a guy on the back side of his career. Making decisive cuts and regularly hitting the defense's second level, the veteran from Miami (Fla.) ripped off runs of 18, 27, 17 and 34 yards in a 107-yard first half.
The last run gave the 49ers a dagger touchdown with 37 seconds left in the half. After a replay reversal denied Gore a first down on a third-and-1 run, San Francisco lined up to go for it, and the Rams called timeout.
The brief break did nothing to help St. Louis. Gore tore into the hole between right guard and tackle, slipped a tackle and peeled off a 34-yard score to put the 49ers up 14-3 at halftime.
"The line did a great job," Gore said. "I had the easy part."
After the Rams (1-3) failed to capitalize on Gore's one mistake -- a fumble they recovered on the San Francisco 44 on the third quarter's second play -- the 49ers marched 88 yards to take an insurmountable 21-3 lead on Kaepernick's 12-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis.
San Francisco's defense dominated the one-dimensional Rams, limiting them to 18 yards on 19 rushes. That enabled the 49ers to tee off on quarterback Sam Bradford, who endured a long, miserable evening.
Bradford completed just 19 of 41 passes for 202 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception. He was sacked five times, twice by NaVorro Bowman. The second sack led to a 49ers fumble recovery at the St. Louis 3, setting up Anthony Dixon's 1-yard scoring run with 10:15 remaining.
"NaVorro had an outstanding game," Harbaugh said. "His leadership stood out in addition to what he did on the field."
NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - NOTES, QUOTES
--Rams inactives included starting right tackle Rodger Saffold for a second straight week, as well as backup running back Isaiah Pead.
Pead said after the game, "I have to make better decisions," leading to the conclusion he did something off the field after serving a one-game suspension for the first game of the season. Pead didn't reveal any specifics.
--Rookie safety T.J. McDonald left the game on a cart with his right leg immobilized and the injury is believed to be a fractured leg.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a matter of us getting on the same page. We're talented, we know that, but we're putting the defense in tough positions." -- Wide receiver Austin Pettis, after the team's third consecutive loss.
NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
St. Louis has no running game. The Rams rushed 19 times for 18 yards, enabling the 49ers' defense to unleash fierce pressure on Sam Bradford. The St. Louis quarterback was sacked five times by a team missing its top pass rusher, Aldon Smith. St. Louis has a meager 190 rushing yards through four games, 37 more yards than Frank Gore gained Thursday night.
Cortland Finnegan is struggling to cover top receivers. The veteran cornerback was burned twice on San Francisco's first touchdown drive Thursday night by Anquan Boldin for 42- and 20-yard plays, the second resulting in a score. Finnegan is a feisty player who makes a good living off his good technique, but teams are coming at him with impunity so far. For the Rams' defense to start getting stops, Finnegan must play better.