EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The San Francisco 49ers were coming off a stunning road loss, angry and missing home.
They headed back with an impressive win and looked again as though they're one of the NFL's elite teams.
Carlos Rogers returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown, and Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick — on a wildcat-style option — all ran for scores as the 49ers cruised to a 34-0 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
"After the last game," linebacker Aldon Smith said of San Francisco's 24-13 loss at Minnesota last week, "some people were questioning us and we knew what we were capable of."
Rex Ryan's Jets, meanwhile, have plenty to answer for right now, which is why he sent his players home for two days to do some soul searching.
"I apologize for my language," said Ryan, so angry that he had trouble even getting started. "I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but really ... there's no two ways, in or outs about it."
San Francisco (3-1) used a solid running game that gained 245 yards, a smothering defense, a little bit of the wildcat-style offense and even blocked a punt to improve to 4-0 following losses under coach Jim Harbaugh.
Instead of heading back to the West Coast last Sunday, Harbaugh had his team stay in eastern Ohio and practice at Youngstown State all week. It worked last season, when they followed a win at Cincinnati with a victory at Philadelphia. Well, the 49ers might have a new home away from home.
"I think the whole week we had more edge," quarterback Alex Smith said. "We had a bad taste in our mouth the whole week. I don't think that goes away after a day. There's no 24-hour rule. The loss sits around and you talk about it."
And, the 49ers figured out how to put it way behind them.
"This is more the way we are accustomed to playing," Harbaugh said.
Ryan took no solace from the Jets (2-2) losing to one of the NFL's best. After all, San Francisco plays the way Ryan wishes his team did.
"It's obviously unacceptable," Ryan said. "It starts with the coaches. The players ... they've got to dig deep, look down at themselves."
It was San Francisco's first shutout since beating the St. Louis Rams 26-0 last December. New York's last shutout loss was 9-0 to Green Bay on Oct. 31, 2010, and it was the Jets' biggest home shutout loss since falling 37-0 to Buffalo in 1989.
Meanwhile, the Jets lost top wide receiver Santonio Holmes to what appeared to be a serious left foot injury. If Holmes misses significant time, the Jets would be without their two biggest playmakers after All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis was likely lost for the season with a torn ligament in his left knee last week at Miami.
"We've got to play with who we've got," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "None of those guys are going to get better overnight."
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Holmes caught a pass from Sanchez for 4 yards, but his left leg appeared to go out on him. The ball flew out of his hands, and Rogers picked it up and returned it for a score.
Holmes left the stadium in a golf cart, holding crutches, his left foot in a boot.
Ryan said Friday that the Jets would wait to put Revis on injured reserve until he has surgery in a few weeks, keeping him available in case New York goes to the Super Bowl. If the Jets play like this the rest of the way, getting to the playoffs will be a tall task.
The struggles on offense have also started many to wonder if it's time to let Tebow play more at quarterback — or maybe even start instead of Sanchez.
"I don't think that's the answer," Ryan said. "I think Mark's the answer at quarterback."
But he added: "Again, time will tell."
Sanchez had another poor game, going 13 of 29 for 103 yards and an interception. New York also finished with just 45 yards rushing. Tebow, meanwhile, had a limited role again, rushing twice for no yards, but completed his first pass with the Jets: a 9-yard toss to Dedrick Epps, who injured his right knee on the play.
"I'm ready to do whatever they ask me to," Tebow said.
Alex Smith was efficient, going 12 of 21 for 143 yards and no touchdowns, but more importantly, no interceptions.
The wildcat-style offense worked early — but for the 49ers and not Tebow and the Jets.
Instead, it was Kaepernick who put the 49ers up 7-0 early in the second quarter, taking a direct snap and running untouched off left end for a 7-yard touchdown. Kaepernick also had a 17-yard run earlier in the game, and a 30-yard scamper late.
With just over a minute left in the first half, the 49ers were aggressive despite starting the drive at their 26. A 23-yard catch by Vernon Davis on first down got things rolling, and San Francisco ended the half on David Akers' 36-yard field goal.
Boos and some chants of "Tee-boww! Tee-boww!" rang out as the Jets went three-and-out for the second straight possession in the second half. It never got any better for New York.
"Guys are just upset and frustrated," Sanchez said. "This is not the way we imagined this game going."
NOTES: Mario Manningham, a Super Bowl hero with Giants before joining the Niners as free agent, returned to the Meadowlands and had three catches for 47 yards, plus a 28-yard gain on an end-around. ... Akers also missed from 55 and 40 yards wide right. ... New York lost fullback John Conner with a hamstring injury. ... San Francisco got 62 yards rushing from Gore, 56 from Hunter and 50 from Kaepernick.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL