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LONDON – The San Francisco 49ers have won five games in a row and are keeping things interesting in the NFC West.
And a bye week may be just what the Niners need if they plan to keep challenging the Seattle Seahawks for the division title.
The 49ers improved to 6-2 with an easy 42-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8) on Sunday at Wembley Stadium, getting two rushing touchdowns each from quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Frank Gore.
"I think this is a perfect time, a good time for our team, for guys who are dealing with injuries to recover," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said, "for guys to rest their bodies a little bit and get ready for the stretch we have ahead of us.
"It doesn't get any easier."
After next week's bye, the 49ers host the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 10. They still have home games against division rivals Seattle and St. Louis in December.
If Kaepernick can play like he did Sunday at Wembley, they shouldn't have much to worry about.
Kaepernick ended up with 164 yards passing, with one touchdown, and 54 yards rushing. Frank Gore also ran for two scores and 71 yards, while Kendall Hunter rushed for 84 yards for the 49ers.
"The offensive line did a great job, made it easy for me," said Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl last year. "I think this is one of the first game that we started that fast."
Kaepernick made his first big play on San Francisco's first possession, quickly throwing to fullback Bruce Miller on the right sideline for a 43-yard gain.
"Called 'Big Sleeper,'" 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We've practiced it before."
A few plays later, Kaepernick scrambled for 4½ yards on a third-and 5, setting up Gore for a short gain and a first down.
After an incomplete pass, Gore ran 19 yards for the first touchdown.
Kaepernick took over the scoring after that, running 13 yards and diving into the corner for the second touchdown late in the first quarter, then passing to Vernon Davis in the corner of the end zone for another, and finally holding it and scrambling for 7 yards and a touchdown.
And all in the first half.
"Kaepernick is a stud athlete and he showed it again tonight," Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said.
Here are five reasons the 49ers kept the Jaguars winless:
KAEPERNICK'S DAY: The 49ers' quarterback could do nothing wrong, running for two touchdowns and throwing for another in the first half to put his team way ahead early. He finished with 164 yards passing and 54 yards rushing. "As soon as he saw that window, he had a great dart and speed to get the ball into the end zone," Harbaugh said.
READ OPTION: San Francisco has been working on the read option, and it's working. With Kaepernick standing in the pocket and watching the defense, he has been able to throw or run at a moment's notice and tear apart opposing teams. It worked last week against the Titans, with the 49ers winning 31-17, and it kept the Jaguars guessing all night in London.
STRONG CROWD SUPPORT FOR "VISITING" TEAM: Although the Jaguars were the "home" team at the eighth regular-season NFL game in London, the 49ers got plenty of crowd support. Harbaugh called it "pretty equally distributed," but San Francisco's five Super Bowl titles give it an appeal on this side of the Atlantic that Jacksonville can only dream of as it plans to play games in London in each of the next three seasons.
JACKSONVILLE'S DEFENSE: The Jaguars' D had been one of its few bright spots in the run-up to its first game in London, but they certainly did not live up to Harbaugh's billing of "mean." The 49ers lit up the Jaguars for nearly 400 total yards, and were up 28-0 midway through the second quarter. "This has been the second week now, defensively, that we've had some sustained drives. We really need to take a look at it, whether it's missed tackles, missed assignments, or execution," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "For whatever reason, we did not play things correctly and we need to find out why."
COVERING BLACKMON: The 49ers said they were going to focus on Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon, and they certainly did. Blackmon was limited to 31 yards from four receptions, a major production drop-off for the player who came in with the most receiving yards in October (384) coming into Sunday's game. Tight end Marcedes Lewis also managed only six yards from one catch.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org