St. Louis, MO – Colin Kaepernick had two touchdown passes while Frank Gore ran one in as the San Francisco 49ers dominated the St. Louis Rams, 35-11, in an NFC West battle on Thursday.
Coming into the game having dropped their past two games, the 49ers (2-2) needed a win in a big way and turned to their veterans in this divisional struggle.
Kaepernick finished the game 15-for-23 for 167 yards with the pair of scores, and Anquan Boldin caught five passes for 90 yards and a score. Gore totaled 153 yards on 20 carries.
"We had to get back on track and that's playing smash-mouth football," said Gore. "The o-line did a fantastic job tonight."
Gore and Kaepernick both lost a fumble, but Vernon Davis returned to play after sitting out last week with a hamstring injury and posted two catches for 18 yards and a score.
Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon each posted a touchdown on the ground in the fourth quarter with Gore on the bench.
"I thought everybody did a good job," said San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh. "The energy and toughness was there. It was good team defense, the coverage was tight and we got turnovers."
Sam Bradford was 19-for-41 for 202 yards with one touchdown and one interception for the Rams (1-3), who have dropped their past three after opening the season with a victory.
"Obviously as a football team, we have a lot to work on considering what's happened the last five days," said St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher. "I have faith in this football team and we're going to get this fixed."
After Phil Dawson missed a 53-yard attempt on San Francisco's first possession of the game, St. Louis took advantage of the short field to get on the board.
The first play saw Brian Quick catch a pass for 14 yards and a 15-yard face mask call on San Fran put the ball at the 30-yard line. After an 8-yard catch from Jared Cook, the drive stalled there and a 40-yard field goal off the left post and in from Greg Zuerlein gave the team a 3-0 lead with 7:09 to play in the first quarter.
The Niners continued to struggle over their next two possessions, but finally got things together after getting the ball back with 9:17 to play in the second quarter.
Starting at his own 20, Gore took a handoff on the first play for 27 yards. Facing a 3rd-and-10, Kaepernick went deep down the left sideline and hit Boldin for 42 yards down to the St. Louis 11. An unnecessary roughness penalty pushed the ball back 15 yards and the team later faced a 3rd-and-19, but Kaepernick found Boldin open along the right sideline and he stretched it in on a 20-yard score for a 7-3 lead with 6:22 to play.
St. Louis got past midfield on its ensuing touch, but Bradford went deep for Cook and the ball was knocked away by a defender into the hands of Donte Whitner for his first interception of the season.
Kaepernick methodically drove his team down the field, helped by a 17-yard run from Gore. The team had a pair of plays reversed on replays, one of which was initially a 20-yard catch from Boldin, and the other a run by Gore that was called a first down, but reversed to set up a 4th-and-inches.
The 49ers opted to go for it, and the move paid off as Gore took a handoff to the right, found a hole and raced into the end zone on a 34-yard score for a 14-3 lead with just 29 seconds left in the half.
The Niners got the ball back one last time and tried a 71-yard free kick from Dawson on the last play of the half, but it fell wide and short.
Following an exchange of punts to start the second half, the 49ers got the ball back at their own 12 and moved down the field. On the 11th-play of the drive, Kaepernick lofted the ball into the left side of the end zone for a 12- yard score to Davis for a 21-3 lead with 8:53 to play in the third.
The score stayed that way until the fourth quarter as Bradford fumbled the ball on a sack with the Niners recovering at the St. Louis 3. Two plays later, Dixon punched the ball in for a 1-yard score and a 28-3 advantage with 10:25 left.
St. Louis got its only touchdown of the game after a botched handoff by Kaepernick was recovered by the Rams at the 49ers 24. Four plays later, Bradford hit Lance Kendricks in the end zone from six yards out for a score. Benjamin Cunningham ran in the ball for the 2-point conversion and it was a 28-11 game with 5:44 to play.
San Fran, though, came right back down the field after the onsides kick went out of bounds, with Hunter running the ball in on a 29-yard score with 4:25 to play.
The field goal was the first points in the first quarter for St. Louis in its past 10 games ... Dawson had made seven straight field goals from 50 yards or more prior to the miss in the first quarter ... The Rams host Jacksonville next Sunday ... The 49ers host the Texans next Sunday ... San Francisco has won eight of the last 11 games against the Rams, and now lead the all-time series 63-62-3 ... St. Louis safety T.J. McDonald left the game in the third quarter with a right leg injury. He had an air cast put on the game and was carted off the field ... San Francisco played the game without linebacker Patrick Willis and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, both of whom were out with groin and knee injuries, respectively.