East Rutherford, NJ – Carlos Rogers' 51-yard touchdown on a fumble return headlined a smothering defensive play from the San Francisco 49ers in a 34-0 blowout victory over the injury-plagued New York Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick all recorded rushing touchdowns as San Francisco (3-1) bounced back strongly from a 24-13 upset loss at Minnesota in Week 3. Still, the story of the day belonged to the 49ers' defense.
San Francisco held the overmatched Jets to a paltry 145 yards and nine first downs while forcing four turnovers, including Rogers' recovery of a Santonio Holmes fumble that gave the Niners a 24-0 lead just seconds into the fourth quarter. The 49ers also blocked a punt that led to Hunter's one-yard touchdown plunge with 6:03 remaining.
"Anytime a defense comes out like that, it makes it easy on us," said 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.
Holmes suffered an injury to his left foot on Rogers' touchdown despite not being contacted and did not return. The Jets were already without rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill and tight end Dustin Keller, both of whom were inactive with hamstring injuries.
The 49ers also registered three sacks of Mark Sanchez, who managed just 103 yards on 13-of-29 passing and was intercepted once for New York (2-2), which was handed its most lopsided shutout loss since a 37-0 setback to Buffalo in the 1989 regular-season finale.
The Jets had not been shut out since a 9-0 home defeat to Green Bay on Oct. 31, 2010.
"I'm disappointed," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. "I thought our fans deserved a heck of a lot better than this. We had a packed stadium and played like...we played terrible."
Gore finished with 62 rushing yards on 21 carries and Smith completed 12-of-21 throws for 143 yards for San Francisco, which totaled 245 yards on the ground and held the ball for nearly 37 minutes.
The 49ers' potent ground attack powered the game's first scoring drive, an eight-play, 68-yard sequence that following an early exchange of punts.
San Francisco rushed for 68 yards on the series, highlighted by a 28-yard end around by wide receiver Mario Manningham followed by an 11-yard scamper by Hunter that placed the ball at the Jets' 11-yard line.
On a 3rd-and-goal from the New York seven, Kaepernick was inserted in a shotgun formation and knifed his way into the end zone on a draw play for a 7-0 lead with 1:23 elapsed in the second quarter. It was the second-year pro's first career score of any kind.
The 49ers got the ball back in good field position on the ensuing possession, as Tim Tebow's first pass as a Jet was fumbled by tight end Dedrick Epps near midfield after a nine-yard gain. However, back-to-back sacks by New York's Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace forced kicker David Akers to attempt a 55-yard field goal that was pulled wide to the right.
New York did put forth a scoring bid late in the first half, marching to the San Francisco 25-yard line with under two minutes to go, but Sanchez fumbled after being sacked by Aldon Smith and the Niners' Justin Smith recovered to end the threat.
Alex Smith went to work from there, completing five consecutive passes as time ran down to set up a 36-yard field goal from Akers that gave the 49ers a 10-0 lead at the break.
The Jets managed 83 total yards and four first downs over the first two quarters. The results would be even worse afterward.
Sanchez was intercepted by Patrick Willis after lineman Ray McDonald tipped the pass at the line of scrimmage on New York's first possession after intermission, and the Jets went three-and-out on five of their remaining six drives.
San Francisco extended its advantage to 17-0 on Gore's two-yard run on fourth down with 2:49 to go in the third quarter, with a 25-yard connection from Alex Smith to Delanie Walker to the Jets' 11-yard line leading to the score.
The Jets were able to cross San Francisco territory on the next series, but the drive ended when Holmes went down untouched after a four-yard catch and lost the ball, with Rogers quickly scooping up the fumble and racing down the sideline on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Gore and Hunter combined for 39 yards on six attempts on a 10-play, 46-yard jaunt that ended with Akers' 40-yard field goal and a 27-0 lead with 8:23 left, and the Larry Grant blocked Robert Malone's punt attempt shortly afterward to give the Niners the ball inside the Jets' five-yard line.
Three plays later, Hunter plowed into the end zone from a yard out for the game's final points.
"Here's the recipe for getting your (behind) kicked: 2-for-13 on third down - that's 15 percent, four turnovers, a blocked punt when they rushed one guy, and giving up 245 yards rushing," said Ryan. "How's that for a recipe? It's unacceptable.
Clearly, we're not going to beat anybody when we play like we did today."
San Francisco improved to 10-2 all-time against the Jets and 6-1 as the visitor in the overall series ... The 49ers recorded their first shutout since a 26-0 victory over St. Louis on Dec. 4 of last season ... Manningham finished with three catches for 47 yards in his first appearance at MetLife Stadium for since the ex-New York Giant joined the 49ers as a free agent in the offseason ... Hunter ended with 56 yards on eight carries ... The 49ers are now 14-2 under head coach Jim Harbaugh when outrushing their opponent.