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Patrick Willis Returns to Form in Blowout Win

Posted Oct 21, 2013

A fourth-straight win wasn’t good enough for team defensive leaders like linebacker Patrick Willis.

NASHVILLE – Two fourth-quarter touchdowns was unacceptable to Patrick Willis.

The 49ers had a comfortable 24-0 lead over the Tennessee Titans going into the fourth quarter, but a field goal and two late touchdowns tarnished what could have been a dominant road performance.

PHOTOS: 49ERS VS. TITANS 

The Titans scored on a 66-yard screen pass touchdown to Chris Johnson and a 26-yard touchdown to former 49ers tight end Delanie Walker.

Tennessee made it a 31-17 game with 3:17 to play. It turned out to be the final score.

A fourth-straight win wasn’t good enough for team leaders like Willis.

“We got out of our game,” Willis said on a night where members of the first-team defense were given rest in the fourth quarter. “Some of it we could have prevented.”

The final 15 minutes was much different than the first 45 minutes of play. The 49ers defense only allowed the Titans to cross the 50-yard line one time during that span – it happened on the first drive of the game.

Jim Harbaugh was pleased with the urgency displayed by San Francisco’s roster at the start of the game.

“It was a big game,” the 49ers coach began. “This was Game 7 for us, Game 7 of the World Series, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup.”

It wasn’t quite a postseason game, but San Francisco’s seventh regular season game saw the team win by double-digits for a fourth consecutive week. It’s the first time the 49ers have accomplished the feat since 1997.

Willis had a big role in the lopsided victory. In his second week back playing after missing two games due to a groin injury, Willis posted a team-high nine tackles.

“It thought he was playing like himself again,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a standard, Patrick has set and so has NaVorro (Bowman). I thought they were playing at a high level.”

On an individual level, Willis looked forward to his matchup with Walker and felt like he fared well for the most part. Walker only beat Willis once for a 21-yard reception in the first quarter.

“I know he’s a play-maker,” Willis, a Tennessee native, said. “He caught one pass. It’s football. It’s going to happen. I hate that he did, but the rest of the game, I thought I did pretty well.”

Walker’s late touchdown occurred when rookie free safety Eric Reid appeared to misplay a deep ball from Jake Locker. Reid looked like he jumped to make a play on the ball, but recoiled at the last second when he saw teammate, cornerback Tramaine Brock in position to make a pass breakup. Neither 49ers defensive back took a swipe at the ball, leaving Walker open and able to haul in his third touchdown catch of the season. 

Instances like the Walker touchdown will give the 49ers plenty to correct during a week-long stay in England as they prepare for Sunday’s Week 8 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“We’ve got to play a complete game,” Willis said. “We’ve got to finish.”

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