For the first time since 1997, the San Francisco 49ers have four straight double-digits wins. The winning streak started at the right time for the Niners after beginning the season with a 1-2 record. Sunday’s win over the Tennessee Titans was no different from the others during the winning streak, with San Francisco scoring 30 or more points.
On the field the 49ers were able to be in control for a majority of the game because of being efficient in all aspects. The offense scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions. The defense dismantled the Titans offense by forcing the first six drives to end in five punts and one turnover.
The 49ers continue their 11-day, two-game road trip by traveling to London to play the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team landed in London on Monday. The Jags are reeling with a 0-7 record and have lost every game by at least 10 points. However, the Niners should not take Jacksonville lightly. If San Francisco can continue their level of play from the past four games, they will have no problem beating the NFL’s worst team.
(Game Gold Nuggets Scale)
Unlike last week when the offense got off to a sluggish start, Colin Kaepernick (13 of 21 passes for 199 yards) was able to lead the offense to four scores (3 TDs, 1 FG) on the first five possessions. With the 49ers up 3-0 in the second quarter, Kaepernick ran in a 20-yard touchdown on a read-option fake for his first rushing TD of the season. He finished with 68 rushing yards.
Not to be outdone in the passing game, Kaepernick completed 61 percent of his passes for 199 yards. Three of his completions were highlight-reel worthy because of catches made by Anquan Boldin (5 receptions, 74 yards). Boldin’s second reception was an eye-popping one-handed catch that gained 25 yards. Vernon Davis contributed with four receptions for 62 yards.
Frank Gore ran for 70 of the team’s 153 rushing yards against the Titans. He had two one-yard touchdown runs to give the Niners a 17 and 24-point lead.
Despite the fast start and 24-0 lead in the third quarter, the 49ers had five straight drives end in punts in the second-half. The lack of consistency throughout all four quarters is a big reason why the offense received only 3 GGNs.
A continuing issue for the offense is a lack of receiving options other than Boldin and Davis. All opposing defenses need to do is take Boldin and Davis out of the passing game and Kaepernick has nowhere to go. With Gore’s rushing attack the focal point of the offense again, this is harder to accomplish. However, until Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree return this a weakness team’s have and will take advantage of.
The 49ers defense held the Titans offense scoreless and only allowed eight first downs in the first three-quarters. There was an MVP from all three lines of defense: defensive line, linebackers and secondary. Defensive tackle Justin Smith had his first two-sack game since 2011. Linebacker Patrick Willis had a team-high nine tackles and smothered Titans running back Chris Johnson in the run game. Cornerback Tramaine Brock had one interception and two passes defended. Brock’s pick in the second quarter led to a 45-yard touchdown drive and a 17-0 lead.
The final stat lines show Titans QB Jake Locker throwing for 326 yards and two touchdowns. However, 159 of those yards and the two TDs were in garbage time, with San Francisco up 24-0 in the fourth quarter.
The first player Jim Harbaugh mentioned in his post-game news conference was undrafted rookie Darryl Morris. The reason why is because the fast cornerback had two fantastic special teams tackles in the game. One of the tackles came on a punt in the fourth quarter after he laid out a hit on Titans returner Darius Reynaud. The hit caused a fumble which was recovered by Kassim Osgood for a touchdown. Reynaud finished with minus-1 yard on two punt returns.
Andy Lee landed three of his six punts inside the 20-yard line and ended with a 43.5-yard net average. Phil Dawson almost missed his only field goal attempt in the first quarter, a 44-yarder that barely made it inside the left upright. The Titans started two drives inside its own 12-yard line after kickoff returns.
All told, Tennessee had an average start drive at their 21-yard line.
Jim Harbaugh and his coaches had a great game-plan that ended with the 49ers’ most complete win of the season. On offense, defense, special teams, the Niners were controlling the whole field.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman didn’t see his offense receive a delay-of-game penalty or have to waste a timeout because of play-calling issues. The return of the read-option by Roman was a brilliant move. Before the game he recognized that Tennessee’s defense was susceptible to it and he was right. 50 of Kaepernick’s 68 rushing yards and his one touchdown came via the read-option.
The success of Kaepernick utilizing the read-option shows to future opposing defenses they still have to game-plan for him running the football. For most of the season, Kaepernick has been mainly a pocket passer.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio continued his defenses dominance of opposing offenses. Even though Locker was coming off an injury, Tennessee still had a respectable offense with multiple weapons. Fangio called plays for his defense that scuttled Locker’s options for most of the game. Fangio’s defense did not allow the Titans to get into the red zone until early in the fourth quarter.