The San Francisco 49ers are back on track with their offense showing signs of life and the defense looking dominate again. A true test for the 49ers will come in Week 5 and whether or not they can replicate their success against the Houston Texans.
With two early losses to start the season, the Niners were in must-win mode against the St. Louis Rams in Week 4. San Francisco not only lost games, but players due to injuries and misdeeds. But the Niners, as we expected, did not back down from the challenge of winning on the road against a division foe with missing players. Everyone chipped in for the 35-11 win over the Rams and helped keep the 49ers’ season alive.
Here are Game Gold Nuggets awards for Week 4:
(Game Gold Nuggets Scale)
Colin Kaepernick was back on track, looking comfortable in the offense by finishing with a 115.7 QB rating. Kaepernick had 167 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Most important for the offense was the reemergence of the power running game. Frank Gore averaged 7.7 yards a carry and finished with a season-high 153 rushing yards. He was helped out by San Francisco’s offensive line that had key blocks on the big rushing plays and Gore’s 34-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Running backs Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon both had rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
It was relieving to see the 49ers offense gain a total of 370 yards, but there were still two turnovers and seven punts in the game. One issue not resolved is finding another target at receiver for Kaepernick. Anquan Boldin had five receptions and 90 yards, but no other receiver had more than two catches.
The way the Niners defense played against the Rams, it looked as if Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis were playing in the game. The D completely overwhelmed and dominated Sam Bradford and his offense. Bradford threw one interception and was sacked five times. NaVorro Bowman led the way and stepped up with six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He almost had an interception in the game as well.
The Rams only managed 18 rushing yards on 19 attempts and did not score their first touchdown of the game until late in the fourth quarter. San Francisco’s defense forced 11 punts.
The coverage return team was able to keep speedy rookie punt returner Tavon Austin from causing damage. Some of that was thanks in a part to Andy Lee who had a 52.0-yard net average on seven punts, with two dropped inside the 20-yard line.
The frustrating part was kicker Phil Dawson missing another field goal in a game. He missed a 53-yard field-goal attempt in the first quarter.
Jim Harbaugh was able to rally his team for a big win with a great game plan drawnup by him and his coaching staff. Harbaugh was facing a short week and traveling on the road to the play an NFC West rival. The distractions of Aldon Smith and injury to Patrick Willis did not make it any easier.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman made Kaepernick comfortable by having him roll out on play action and other passing plays. He built up his confidence with short passes early in the game and then allowed Kap to take shots down the field later in the game. Going back to a power run game with three tight end and six offensive linemen formations was key to Gore’s huge game. More of that type of offense needs to be utilized in future games.
The Niners avoided a crisis with their Week 4 win over the Rams. More importantly, the Niners made a statement not to count them out of the talk of the league’s elite teams just yet.