Facing the specter of a 1-3 start and criticism from doubters around the league, the San Francisco 49ers responded in convincing fashion on Thursday night, punching the St. Louis Rams in the mouth with a dominating 35-11 win.
Much of the pregame discussion centered on the expectations of quarterback Colin Kaepernick (who put up solid numbers with 167 yards passing and two scores), it was the Niners' return to a brand of physical, power football that made the difference in this game. Frank Gore had his first 100-yard game of the season, rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
David Fuccillo at Niners Nation explains that it was the performance of the big guys up front that allowed the San Francisco offense to get back on track.
The big key for the 49ers was getting back to their bigger power formations. The 49ers greatest success has been when they can run OR pass out of those formations. The 49ers did a great job of that on Thursday, as we saw them absolutely bulldoze the Rams defensive front. The Rams did very few things right on Thursday, but we cannot forget that they have a very talented defensive line. The 49ers ran through and around that line with a relative amount of ease.
The 49ers defense, playing without Pro Bowl linebackers Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith, was equally dominant, holding the Rams to just 188 yards and allowing just three points through the first three quarters.
The Rams, losers of three consecutive games, regressed in the face of the 49ers physicality, and quarterback Sam Bradford had a particularly rough outing. The fourth-year pro couldn't find a rhythm all night, finishing with a 46.3 completion percentage while throwing for a touchdown and an interception. His 202 yards passing was his lowest output of the season.
Turf Show Times puts Bradford's dismal night in perspective.
Sam Bradford, perplexingly, looked perhaps the worst of any game of his career. There were lengthy discussions of whether or not this was a make or break year (MOBY) for Sam Bradford. If you thought those were settled, you are probably a county judge or magistrate.
This gif pretty much sums up the night for Bradford and the Rams.