By Jerrell Richardson
Among other things, one problem the 49ers have had this season is finishing games. That was not the case Monday Night as after a disastrous start, it took a strong second half for San Francisco to win their 3rd straight game. With the home crowd behind them, St. Louis raced out to a 14-0 lead before losing momentum and eventually the game. The 49ers did a lot to keep their opponent in the game early, and a lot to open it up late, cruising to a 31-17 victory. The win keeps San Francisco right where they want to be in a very competitive division and makes next week game against the Broncos a heavyweight matchup.READ MORE: Kim Fields Hopes 'Adventures In Christmasing' Inspires People To Come Out Of Their Comfort Zone
The offense was not flawless, but played better than the scoreboard reflected. Colin Kaepernick, statistically played his best game of the year by far. He threw for 343 yards, 3 touchdowns, rushed for 37 yards and didn’t commit a single turnover. He also saw a touchdown throw dropped and a fumble lost, both of which took points off the board, and of no fault of the 49ers quarterback.
For the second straight week, wide receiver Brandon Lloyd had the catch of the game. This week it was his 80-yard touchdown reception in the first half that completely changed the direction of the game. Anquan Boldin and Stevie Johnson were the receivers helping move the chains though. Boldin hauled in seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, and Johnson finished with five catches for 53 yards. In all Kaepernick completed passes to eight different receivers.
The running game could have played better, but the important thing was that the game plan was committed to it, at least in the second half. Once they snatched the lead, the 49ers turned to the running game. They were unable to really extend the lead or just sit on the ball late in the 4th, but the bottom line is that it kept the clock running. As a team, the 49ers rushed the ball 27 times for a modest 82 yards. The volume is good, but not the average, and something the team will need to improve on moving forward.
While the Rams got something going late, the 49ers defense played another outstanding game. Even while dealing the loss of several players during the game, the defense held strong. The 14 early points they gave up were due to blown coverages and a turnover, and the only field goal allowed in the second half was due to a desperation drive.
St. Louis quarterback Austin Davis continued his inconstant play. He threw for 199 yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked five times and unable to get anything going in the second half. A lot of it had to do with the pressure he was under as Ahmad Brooks and Dan Skuta both tallied two sacks and made sure the backup didn’t have the time he wanted to scan the field.READ MORE: New COVID Variant 'Omicron' Identified; Here's What You Need To Know
St. Louis had more success running the ball than the 49ers, but that’s not saying much. As a team the Rams could only manage 3.9 yards per rush and 93 yards. They used all three of their backs, and none of them could get anything going.
It was a defensive effort by committee as the entire 49er defense got involved. Safety Antonie Bethea led the team with seven tackles, and right behind him was defensive tackle Ian Williams with six. Cornerback Perrish Cox continued his stellar play adding two passes defended. Safety Eric Reid was solid and it was the secondary’s pick six that sealed the game.
Special Teams: A
The 49ers special team continues to be their most consistent unit. Andy Lee was a major player in the field position game. He had five punts and four of them landed inside the 20, including the final one that backed up the Rams, setting up the game clinching interception. Not to be outdone, Phil Dawson in his lone field goal attempt boomed a 54-yarder that gave the offense the confidence that as soon as they crossed midfield they were more or less in range.
As Well That Ends Well
It didn’t start well, and the 49ers missed some opportunities to really blow this one open, but they beat a division opponent on the road and did so rather convincingly. This is the NFL, so the Rams made a late push, but there was no doubt who the better team was Monday Night – it was the road 49ers who, at 4-2, are right in the thick of things in the NFC. For the second straight week the 49ers overcame a second half deficit and earned a win. These are not the actions of a team who doesn’t believe in their coach.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.