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Gamer: 49ers Beat Rams Through the Air

Posted Oct 13, 2014

A year after leaning on Frank Gore to beat St. Louis at their place, Colin Kaepernick and Co. proved victorious in Week 6 because of the passing game.

The lead:
 Last year, the San Francisco 49ers went to St. Louis with two losses and showed they that were still for real.

This year? They landed in the Edward Jones Dome and looked liked contenders.

The Colin Kaepernick-led 49ers (4-2, 1-1) scored 24 unanswered points entering the fourth quarter to beat the host Rams (1-4) by a 31-17 margin.

In Week 4 of the 2013 season, San Francisco rode Frank Gore and his 153 rushing yards to victory. On this, 700th edition of "Monday Night Football," the team leaned on Kaepernick.

Faced with the blitz from St. Louis blitz-happy defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Kaepernick threw three touchdown passes, one each to veteran wideouts Brandon Lloyd, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree.

Gore helped close the door.

The quote: "It was a gritty, gutsy effort, a hard-working night," Jim Harbaugh said postgame. "Thought our guys set their jaws and got it done."

The numbers: View full stats here, although we should mention that Kaepernick was 22-of-36 passing for 343 yards.

The injury report: For the second straight game, right tackle Anthony Davis (knee, ankle) was replaced in the starting lineup by Jonathan Martin. Davis was joined on the inactives list by center Marcus Martin, safety L.J. McCray, wideout Quinton Patton, cornerback Tramaine Brock as well as defensive linemen Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine.

Linebacker Patrick Willis (toe) was replaced by rookie Chris Borland early in the third quarter. His return was deemed "questionable" before he was ruled out.

Also in the third, defensive back Jimmie Ward's exit forced the 49ers to shift Perrish Cox to the nickel role, with Chris Cook getting reps at Cox's outside spot.

Another third-quarter injury: Left guard Mike Iupati (concussion) was replaced by Joe Looney when he left the game.

In the fourth, wideout Stevie Johnson limped off of the field after recovering the Rams late on-side kick.

The observations: Former Rams safety Craig Dahl represented the 49ers as one of four team captains.

2. Outside linebacker Dan Skuta's first sack of the season was wiped out by a familiar hands-to-the-face penalty by fellow pass-rusher Ahmad Brooks

3. Skuta collected two sacks on one series midway through the second quarter. Brooks and rookie Aaron Lynch also recorded takedowns of St. Louis signal-caller Austin Davis.

4. Tight end Vance McDonald looked like he wanted to leap a Rams defender before he fumbled away his big first-half reception of 21 yards.

5. Kicker Phil Dawson connected from 54 yards out before halftime to nail his NFL-leading fourth successful field goal attempt from beyond 50 yards.

6. Linebacker Michael Wilhoite was mistakenly referred to as "Kevin Wilhoite" by ESPN analyst Jon Gruden during the broadcast.

7. Kaepernick's 80-yard touchdown pass to Lloyd came because of a great throw and a great catch, yes, but it also happened because of Lloyd's inside move on over-eager cornerback Janoris Jenkins. It was the longest play of Kap's career.

8. That was Rams safety T.J. McDonald, the son of former 49ers safety Tim McDonald, who extended a third-quarter 49ers drive by holding tight end Vernon Davis.

9. Davis didn't play his best in his first game back since missing Week 5 with a back injury, but he held the edge as usual in the running game.

10. Jenkins was bested in a bad way when Kaepernick found Boldin the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown connection, giving San Francisco 17 straight, unanswered points. The play worked because of Kap's unique ability to throw on the run and off his back foot.

11. One matchup we all hyped up proved to be one-sided: Left tackle Joe Staley dominated Rams right-side defensive Robert Quinn.

12. Another in-line duel: Rams rookie guard Greg Robinson held his own against defensive tackle Justin Smith.

13. Cox continued to play lights-out, particularly in the third quarter, when he collected two pass break-ups, and a third in the fourth quarter.

14.  San Francisco scored 24 straight, unanswered points with Kaepernick's 32-yard toss to a wide-open Crabtree, who ran a John Taylor-like route, according to Gruden.

15. St. Louis had punted away seven possessions when kicker Greg Zeurlein connected from 38 yards to close the gap to seven points.

16. Rookie cornerback Dontae Johnson didn't get the call when Ward was injured, but he more than showed his worth as part of the dime package when he jumped a Davis pass meant for Kenny Britt and returned it for a pick-six. 

The advance: The 49ers fly back from St. Louis late Monday night and return to work Tuesday morning. They have their work cut out for them: San Francisco visits the 4-1, reigning AFC champion Denver Broncos on "Sunday Night Football" in Week 7. It will be interesting to see if Willis, Iupati and others can get healthy in time for another primetime matchup.

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