The San Francisco 49ers went back to their style of football — or at least their style of winning football — in St. Louis. They run, they play defense, they win … most of the time, anyway. They took that way of playing to another level in a decisive 34-3 win over the Houston Texans.
Tramaine Brock, welcome to playing time and lots of it. In two games as the No. 3 cornerback he has given up very little in coverage and come up with three humongous plays:
- The tipped pass that Donte Whitner intercepted near the goal-line in St. Louis (which Vic Fangio called “the biggest play of the game”)
- A pick-6 on a terrible throw by Matt Schaub toward the right sideline (a similar play to Richard Sherman’s pick-6 last week)
- Another interception of Schaub
Brock was covering All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson on both interceptions, and also goaded talented rookie DeAndre Hopkins into an offensive pass interference call.
Brock talked to the media for the first time all season (including the offseason, when he declined all interview requests). He faced a huge media scrum after Sunday night’s win, and I brought up what Fangio said about the INT-assist against the Rams and how Brock is known as a “ballhawk” type of player … around these parts, anyway.
“If that’s how y’all see my game, I guess I can go with that. But I’m just trying to make plays,” Brock said.
On Monday I wrote how the 49ers’ No. 1 task was to avoid mistakes against the Texans, a talented team that consistently out-gains opponents while finding new and creative ways to lose.
Despite complaints from those who didn’t particularly care for the conservative offensive game plan the 49ers utilized in St. Louis — especially late in the game with San Francisco went into lead-protect mode — expect to see more of the same against Houston on Sunday.
It was pretty funny to see the complaints on Twitter about the playcalling before Vernon Davis took a corner route 64 yards for the game’s last touchdown. As I mentioned during the game, the crowd at Candlestick has changed, but fans complaining about the little things while the 49ers are leading by three touchdowns is a tradition that’ll never die.
“Offensively, I thought we had a great plan. Greg Roman had a great plan, called a great game,” Jim Harbaugh said. “Bruce Miller I thought had an outstanding night. Vernon blocked extremely well. It was good, the precision was very good offensively tonight.”
Colin Kaepernick’s numbers were fantasy-ugly (6-for-15 for 113 yards) but win-pretty: no interceptions for the second straight game, only one sack absorbed, and a nifty 14-yard run. Nothing that’ll add any more endorsements to his overflowing portfolio, but very few mistakes. Speaking of mistakes …
The 49ers absolutely must stop committing 10 penalties per game if they want to beat good teams — and despite their erratic play during the first quarter of the season, the Texans are a good team.
The 49ers only committed three penalties for 17 yards, by far their most disciplined game of the season. The Texans had 313 yards on offense to the 49ers’ 284, but San Francisco’s defense was opportunistic (Donte Hitner had a nice strip of Ben Tate in the fourth quarter, and Tony Jerod-Eddie had an interception that we’ll talk about in a bit).
“There was a couple times where they drove on us and we’d get stops,” said Michael Wilhoite, who filled in admirably for Patrick Willis with 13 solo tackles and three tackles for loss. “Tony came up with a big pick. T-Brock came up with a big interception. It’s just coming up with plays. Forcing the fumble at the end of the game, it’s just coming up with the plays you need to change the game, to switch the momentum to get it back on your side. And that’s what you’ve got to do.”
– I asked Jerod-Eddie when he last intercepted a pass: “My senior year in high school,” he said. “It was about the same, I got about five yards, got tackled by the running back.”
He also mentioned a similar play during a recent practice when he dropped a potential interception. “It felt good to get that one,” Jerod-Eddie said.
– Frank Gore left with an ankle injury, but stayed warm on the sideline and came back in and got several carries.
“I feel good. They landed on me, my position was kind of awkward. I’m happy that God blessed me to be able to get back in and finish the game,” Gore said.
– No one is saying Gore — who rushed 17 times for 81 yards and a touchdown — is done anymore. Gore talks about things that fuel him fairly often: his draft position, what people said when the 49ers drafted him, the whispers about his age. I asked him if he heard the doubters before looking like his old self against during the last two games.
“It motivates me. Even when I didn’t have yards, if you look at the film you’ll see why,” Gore said. “As long as I do all the small things and we get the win, and I know I did something to help the team win, I’m fine.”
– Gore was wearing some of the wildest shoes I’ve seen in a while — animal print (leopard?) on the sides with gold spikes covering the toecap. “Hey Hitner, where we going tonight?” he asked Donte before heading to the podium. He asked Whitner/Hitner a few times before the strong safety turned around, laughed and said, “Call me.”
– “Before the game we said our challenge, we saw the stats. We saw Ben Tate, Arian Foster, 200-something yards apiece. We said we weren’t going to let them outperform us tonight. And we went out there and played a great game, all backs tonight,” Gore said.
Foster and Tate combined for 126 yards on 28 carries. Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon combined for 153 yards on 31 carries … and two touchdowns.
– More Gore:
Gore called the Texans’ d-line “probably the best front we’ve went through all year so far. Our o-line, they stood up and got the job done.”
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) October 7, 2013
A little jab at the Seahawks, perhaps?
– Ray McDonald left the game after sacking Schaub near Houston’s goal-line. He immediately grabbed his right bicep and left the field after the play. He compared the sensation to a “bee sting,” and will get an MRI soon.
– With or without McDonald, the 49ers are now above .500 for the first time since Week 1 and could be set up to improve their winning percentage quite a bit over the next four games. The 49ers host Arizona next week before playing road games against the Titans (who’ll be without Jake Locker) and the Jaguars (who’ll be without a prayer in London) before facing the Panthers. The bad news: Seattle, still a game ahead after losing their first game on Sunday, face the Titans, Cardinals, Rams and Bucs before playing in Atlanta.