Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans have hit "rock bottom," and coach Gary Kubiak believes the quarterback who helped put them there can bring them back.
At least for now.
Schaub threw three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown for the fourth straight game, and the San Francisco 49ers trounced the Texas 34-3 on Sunday night to hand Houston its third straight loss.
"It's a broken record right now," Kubiak said. "It looked the same. Hopefully, that's rock bottom."
The 49ers turned a prime-time showdown into an all-out pick party at The Stick.
Tramaine Brock jumped in front of Schaub's first pass of the night for an interception, running 18 yards for a touchdown just 90 seconds into the game to set the tone for San Francisco's stellar defensive effort.
Things only got better for Brock and San Francisco, and worse for Houston's beleaguered quarterback. Schaub was replaced by T.J. Yates in the fourth quarter.
"As a team, we need to get better and get better fast. And that's myself included, most importantly," Schaub said. "We've worked too hard, and I've worked too hard since I've walked in this building, for it to come to this right now. I'm better than I'm playing and our team's better than we're playing right now. We need to all correct it very fast."
Schaub finished 19 of 35 for 173 yards passing and a sack. The horrendous showing came a week after a 23-20 overtime loss at home to Seattle last week when he threw an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Fans in Texas were already furious and burning his jersey — and there's a sign over one freeway calling for Schaub's ouster. Now Houston (2-3) has its first three-game skid since the end of 2011.
"He's going through a tough time," left tackle Duane Brown said. "I've been here with him my whole career and I don't know if he's ever been in a moment like this, but I think he's mentally strong enough to get out of it."
In a stadium set to be destroyed after the season, Schaub himself imploded. He could be seen muttering to himself with a shocked expression walking off the field as Kubiak buried his face in his hands.
With Schaub struggling, San Francisco's offense didn't need to do much.
Colin Kaepernick tossed a 64-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis and Frank Gore ran for 81 yards and a score. The 49ers (3-2) are right back in the NFC West race after the Seahawks (4-1) lost at Indianapolis.
Anthony Dixon added a 2-yard touchdown run for the NFC champions, while Brock had a second interception and nearly a third.
Kaepernick went 6 for 15 with 113 yards as the 49ers won their second straight in emphatic fashion following the first two-game losing streak under third-year coach Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick completed four of his first six passes, then threw seven straight incompletions before connecting with Bruce Miller early in the fourth quarter and then Davis' TD.
Brock and the ball-hawking defense was a big reason why.
He recorded his first career pick six, then gained 13 yards on his second interception midway through the second quarter. That set up Dixon's second TD of the year.
Brock nearly had a third late in the first half but was called for defensive pass interference, and rookie safety Eric Reid dropped a would-be interception right at him late in the third.
Even fringe defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie — an injury replacement for Ray McDonald — got in on the interception fun in the third quarter.
On Houston's second drive, Randy Bullock hooked a 45-yard field goal try wide left — and the 49ers capitalized afterward again with Gore's touchdown late in the first quarter. Bullock produced the Texans' lone points with a 41-yard field goal in the third.
Missing three key defenders for the second straight game, San Francisco's opportunistic D still didn't flinch and kept the penalties in check after early season problems with flags.
Kubiak turned to Yates in the fourth quarter and Ben Tate lost a fumble on Yates' second play, with San Francisco's Tarell Brown recovering. The 49ers, who had lost their last two Sunday night games both to the Seahawks, amassed 177 yards rushing with five different players each making a run of 11 or more yards.
Notes: Texans WR Keshawn Martin injured his should. His status is unclear. ... Texans TE Owen Daniels made six receptions for 60 yards, giving him at least one catch in 88 straight regular-season games. ... Texans DE Antonio Smith saw the end to his streak of four straight regular-season games with at least a half-sack.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org