San Francisco, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The San Francisco 49ers rode an efficient performance from Colin Kaepernick and a stifling defensive display to a 23-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park.
Kaepernick amassed 275 yards and a touchdown while completing 19-of-28 passes without a turnover, while the 49ers (8-4) held the Rams out of the end zone until Kellen Clemens tossed a garbage-time touchdown pass to Brian Quick in the game's final minute.
Anquan Boldin added nine catches for 98 yards in a win that put the defending NFC-champion 49ers a game ahead of the field for the conference's final wild card berth, with Vernon Davis contributing 82 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.
"I don't think we've played our best football yet," Boldin said.
Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree, returning from a torn Achilles that sidelined him for the season's first 11 games, had two catches totaling 68 yards in limited duty.
"It means a lot just to be out there and help contribute to the win," Crabtree said.
Facing constant pressure throughout the afternoon, Clemens hit on just 19- of-37 throws for 218 yards -- much of which came after the outcome was already decided -- and was intercepted once. Zac Stacy managed 72 yards on 19 carries as St. Louis (5-7) had a two-game win streak halted.
The 49ers dominated the first half on both sides en route to building a 13-0 lead late in the second quarter, with the offense putting up points on each of its first three possessions.
Kaepernick's 23-yard strike to Davis down to the St. Louis 15 higlighted a 12- play, 53-yard initial series that resulted in a 32-yard Phil Dawson field goal midway through the opening quarter. Davis came up with a highlight-reel 20- yard catch-and-run into Rams' territory on San Francisco's next drive, but a pair of sacks and a holding penalty forced the Niners to settle for Dawson's 43-yard kick less than a minute into the second period.
Boldin was the focal point of San Francisco's subsequent march, with the veteran wideout hauling in five Kaepernick passes for 55 yards on the 12-play, 72-yard jaunt. The last catch, a leaping 16-yard grab over the middle on 3rd- and-15, preceded Frank Gore's 3-yard touchdown burst that extended the margin to 13-0.
St. Louis countered with a 13-play, 44-yard sequence, with much of the damage coming on the ground, to position Greg Zuerlein for a 43-yard field goal with 54 seconds remaining in the half.
The Rams got the ball near midfield after forcing the Niners to go three-and- out to begin the second half, and Clemens hit on a pair of throws to get Zuerlein in range for a 34-yard field goal that trimmed the deficit to 13-6.
However, Kapernick remained on target on the ensuing possession to enable San Francisco to restore a double-digit advantage. The playmaking quarterback went 5-for-6 for 72 yards in moving the 49ers back down the field, though the drive ultimately fizzled in the red zone and Dawson came on for a successful 24-yard field goal try with 3:25 to go in the third quarter.
Gore fumbled at the St. Louis 17 to thwart another San Francisco scoring opportunity near the end of the third, but an alert play on special teams quickly got the Niners back in range to lengthen the lead.
Pinned deep in their own end, the Rams attempted a fake punt that was snuffed out by San Francisco, with Anthony Dixon stopping Matt Giordano on a direct snap to start the 49ers on the opposing 17-yard line.
"Sometimes we take chances and sometimes it doesn't work," said Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
Kaepernick rolled out and found Davis on the next snap, with the tight end hurdling a defender while crossing the goal line to put San Francisco up 23-6 with 29 seconds elapsed in the fourth quarter.
Clemens desperately tried to lead a comeback in the final stages, but was stopped short on a fourth-down scramble at the 49ers' 18 and later threw an interception to Carlos Rogers with 3:30 left to play. He was able to engineer a 10-play, 92-yard series, capped by Quick's 3-yard catch on a fade route, with the game out of reach.
San Francisco offensive tackle Joe Staley exited with a right knee injury on his team's opening drive, while Rams offensive tackle Jake Long sustained a possible concussion after colliding with Stacy late in the third quarter ... The Rams were held to 83 rushing yards on 30 attempts after averaging 189.5 yards on the ground over their previous four tests ... St. Louis fell to 0-5-1 in its last six visits to Candlestick Park.