What We Learned from 49ers vs. Rams

Select images from the San Francisco 49ers only "Monday Night Football" appearance of the 2014 season.

ST. LOUIS – The San Francisco seized momentum with 24 unanswered points on their way to a comeback road victory on "Monday Night Football."

Colin Kaepernick's pinpoint passing and a strong pass-rush allowed the 49ers to beat the St. Louis Rams, 31-17, to improve to 4-2 on the year and pick up the franchise's seventh consecutive victory on the marquee Monday night stage.

Ahead by a touchdown with a minute remaining, rookie cornerback Dontae Johnson intercepted Rams quarterback Austin Davis and returned the ball 20 yards for a game-clinching score.

Here's what we learned in the NFC West rivalry matchup.

Third-quarter Scoring Drive

The 49ers put together a methodical drive to open the second half. Considering they were fortunate to be trailing 14-10 at that point of the game, it was a series that helped San Francisco grab control of the game.

Anquan Boldin came up with a key third-down catch that put the 49ers in the red zone. Boldin, the 34-year-old wideout, finished the drive with a touchdown catch from 11 yards out on a 3rd-and-1 play. Kaepernick rolled to his left, bought time, and found Boldin working the back of the end zone for a jaw-dropping throw-and-catch.

Kaepernick's second touchdown pass of the night capped a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive and gave the visiting team 17 unanswered points.

With the football world watching, Kaepernick proved why he's such a dynamic threat at quarterback. Not only did he escape an interior Rams pass-rusher, he showed the pocket awareness to locate his receiver downfield and had the arm strength to make a throw that few signal-callers could deliver in his shoes.

Lloyd Goes Deep, Again

Speaking of 30-year-old wideouts, San Francisco produced its first touchdown of the night thanks to another veteran pass-catcher.

With 14 seconds left in the first half, the struggling 49ers received a jolt of energy when Kaepernick completed an 80-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd, who beat Janoris Jenkins down the left sideline to make it a 14-10 score in favor of St. Louis.

It was Kaepernick's longest touchdown pass of his career and his 13th straight game with a touchdown pass. Kaepernick's previous longest throw was a 64-yarder to Vernon Davis.

The long scoring play was also Lloyd's second-longest touchdown catch of his career. The 33-year-old veteran receiver caught an 89-yard score back in 2005.

Kap Gets to 300

Michael Crabtree got into the touchdown act with a 32-yard score from Kaepernick, his third of the night.

The throw put Kaepernick over the 300-yard mark for the first time this season.

Crabtree celebrated the play by launching his own spiral into the Edward Jones Dome crowd. It was San Francisco's 24th consecutive unanswered point of the game and all but silenced the house.

Key Penalties on Rams Opening Drive

So how did St. Louis get out to a two-touchdown lead?

First, Jared Cook's 39-yard catch on third down put St. Louis at San Francisco's 36-yard line on their opening drive. Shortly after, defensive penalties doomed the 49ers defense.

Ahmad Brooks was flagged for illegal hands to the face, negating a Dan Skuta second-down sack. Eric Reid was also called for illegal contact on second-and-goal from the 6-yard line.

The Rams eventually punched it in from 1-yard out on a 3rd-and-goal run by Benny Cunningham over left tackle Jake Long. Craig Dahl, the former Rams safety, appeared to be held as he was trying to seal the edge of the line.

The Rams penalty wasn't called. They drove 80 yards on 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead.

McDonald Stripped; Rams Score Off of Turnover

The 49ers went three-and-out on their first offensive possession and turned the ball over on their second series. Garrett Celek caught a short pass in the right flat and appeared to have a ton of running room. When McDonald approached two defenders, he fumbled in the open field when he collided with the opposing jerseys.

Safety Rodney McLeod was credited with the forced fumble; linebacker James Laurinaitis scooped up the ball and returned it 17 yards to St. Louis' 45-yard line.

It was McDonald's second catch of the year.

Four plays later, the Rams added to their first-quarter lead with a 22-yard Austin Davis touchdown pass to tight end Lance Kendricks on a 3rd-and-1 play. Chris Culliver was the closest 49ers defender in coverage. He appeared to be sucked in by Davis' play-action fake, allowing Kendricks to get open down the left seam.

Lynch's First-half Sack Leads to Points

Skuta sacked Davis in the second quarter and followed it up with a half sack, split with rookie Aaron Lynch. It was Lynch's first quarterback sack, of any kind, in his NFL career. The third-down stop, followed by a 13-yard Rams punt, helped the 49ers get in position to score.

As a result, Phil Dawson made his 10th field goal in a row, this one from 54 yards out, to get San Francisco on the board.

The Rams led 14-3 with 7:07 left in the first half.

Sack Total Review

The 49ers sacked Davis five times. The Rams, who entered the game with one sack on the year, did not sack Kaepernick on the game.

Needless to say, San Francisco's ramped up pass-rush, which included a couple of linebacker blitzes, helped turn the tide on Monday.

Injuries Take Toll

Joe Staley injured his toe and did not return to the game. Rookie linebacker Chris Borland took the co-captain's place in the defensive lineup.

Mike Iupati was also nicked in the third quarter on a Gore running play. He walked off under his own power, but was ruled questionable to return with a head injury.

Rookie defensive back Jimmie Ward injured his quadriceps and did not return. Chris Cook entered the game as a third cornerback and Perrish Cox lined up as the team's slot cornerback.

Near the end of the fourth quarter, Stevie Johnson recovered a Rams onside kick, but stayed down after the recovery with an apparent injury. He hobbled off of the field under his own power.


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