After a close win and two ugly losses, the reasons for the 49ers’ poor play and supposedly imminent demise were plentiful. The coaches talked about “precision” all week, and the 49ers finally got a little more precise in a 35-11 beatdown of the Rams. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m no Mike Mayock, I can’t sit here and diagram what everyone was supposed to do on every play or come up with tidbits like the Seahawks are “a little bit more vulnerable on the road than they are at home.”

First impressions after watching the game: the 49ers needed to knock around some people to feel better about things, and the Rams were the perfect punching bag. The offensive line, Bruce Miller and Vance McDonald(!) mauled the Rams’ front seven all night.

The only lingering worry from this game came from a play late in garbage time when Joe Staley got bent backward and appeared to put ligament-tearing stress on his knees, especially considering how he weighs more than 300 lbs. Before the replays, his screams made viewers wonder whether a closeup shot would find a Theismanesque compound fracture, but Staley waved off a cart and walked off with the help of two coaches. The beat guys say he wasn’t limping after going in for x-rays, and the 49ers have an extra few days of rest — but the 49ers really need a healthy Staley, because Adam Snyder is …

Okay, maybe we can put the Staley concerns on the backburner and celebrate the return of a guy some gave up on.

His legs are gone. They no longer have the snap or explosion or whatever you want to call the thing a running back’s legs need.

Frank Gore San Francisco 49ersTold y’all:

I might end up getting proven wrong here, and if so I’ll admit it in a later post. But Gore isn’t done. Even though it’s accepted that running backs fall off a metaphorical cliff at a certain point around age 30, I noticed nothing between the Super Bowl and now that tells me Gore is currently tired, hurt or slow. Remember the Super Bowl? After that game, everyone complained because Gore didn’t receive the ball during the 49ers’ final four offensive plays. I complained. You complained. We all complained. I refuse to believe that less than seven months later, it’s already time for Gore to make the transition to a career in coaching.

The Rams also gave up a zillion yards to DeMarco Murray and it seems abundantly clear that Jeff Fisher actually did NOT turn the Rams around last year (and Sam Bradford getting comparisons to Mark Sanchez after the game certainly wasn’t a good sign).

But Gore was still shifty, quick and strong. He’s clearly the 49ers’ best running back (breaking news), and while the legs couldn’t possibly be quick as lively as they were back in 2007, he’s got energy to spare. After the game, Colin Kaepernick and Gore came back out to the field to talk to the NFL Network guys. Kaepernick was wearing a compression shirt, while Gore had his pads and uniform on and looked like he was ready to play another game a half hour after the one where he ran for 153 yards on 20 carries.

“It was a get back on track game. We’re the same team as last year, man,” Gore said.

NaVorro Bowman 49ersNaVorro Bowman’s guarantee to Trent Baalke

– To be the same team as last year, the 49ers needed to get back to the defense they played last year, particularly over the first 13 games (pre-Patriots game) when they gave up an average of 14.2 points per game. Allowing 11 points after three games in the high 20s has to feel good, especially without Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith.

– “I woke up this morning and I told my GM, ‘I’m going out here and I’m going to get you this win today.'” – NaVorro Bowman

– Jim Harbaugh probably overuses the phrase “competes like a maniac,” but it works when describing how Bowman played on Thursday night.

  • Two sacks
  • Three tackles for loss
  • Two QB hits
  • One pass deflection
  • Earned a permanent spot in Daryl Richardson’s nightmares
  • Probably earned Defensive Player of the Week honors despite dropping a sure pick-6

Some quick postgame scouting reports no scout would probably ever agree with

– Corey Lemonier: a keeper

– Tramaine Brock: will give up some yardage to better receivers than the Rams’ sorry group (I’m starting to regret drafting Tavon Austin on all those fantasy teams), not all that big, but always around the ball

– Donte Whitner: reminding us on a weekly basis that Dashon Goldson wasn’t the only safety laying guys out over the last couple years (not sure what he could’ve done on that play in the end zone, though — it’s like the NFL wants teams to throw high passes over the middle in order to make receivers “defenseless” and therefore off limits)

– Ahmad Brooks: quietly the best player on defense this season

– Carlos Rogers: gave up nothing against the Rams

– Jon Baldwin: made sure Marlon Moore stays inactive, probably for good unless someone gets hurt

– Bruce Miller: still catching passes; blocked very well against St. Louis

– Anquan Boldin: acrobat/beast (who took advantage of what looks like a dreadful Rams secondary)

– Mike Iupati: back to normal

– Colin Kaepernick: wait, this deserves more than a pithy comment …

Kaepernick was so angry after the Seahawks game that it was almost alarming to see just how pissed off he was after losing to Indianapolis. The “game face” he displayed before the game when the NFL Network cameras followed him though the tunnel was amazing. But after two games where he failed to complete half his attempts and turned the ball over six times, it made sense to go conservative against a team that, let’s face it, currently sits somewhere between “poor” and “The Jacksonville Jaguars” on the pathetic team scale.

Was Kaepernick perfect in his throws and reads? No, but he threw some fantastic throws to Boldin, made the touchdown to Vernon Davis look easy and stayed healthy. 15-for-23 for 167 yards and two TDs (“Alex, is that you?”) won’t thrill the fantasy folks, especially with only three carries for 11 yards, but the 49ers weren’t going to succeed by winning games the way they did against Green Bay in Week 1 all season long, not with this receiving corps. They needed to clear out all the extraneous cuteness and do what they do well, and the Rams were the perfect team to help them build the confidence they needed after their first two-game losing streak since Mike Singletary needed to look at the film.