Facing the first crisis of the Jim Harbaugh era, the San Francisco 49ers turned back the clock to 2011. The team's 35-11 win over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night wasn't always pretty, but that's just how Harbaugh likes it.
In desperate need of a win, San Francisco faced a Rams team that couldn't do anything right on offense. Just four days after being steamrolled, the 49ers pushed around the Rams all over the field. San Francisco is now 2-2 and won't have to dig out of a huge hole early this season.
Ground and pound
The Niners rushed the ball 40 times for 219 yards. They held the Rams to just 18 yards on 19 carries. You can watch a lot of football games without finding a dominant performance like that. San Francisco running back Frank Gore had more yards in this game (153) than his three previous games combined.
Too often we overrate the importance of the running game in the media. But the 49ers are a team largely built on attitude. They pride themselves on being tougher than their opponents. They got back to bullying Thursday, and it came on the road against a division opponent. The 49ers are an arrogant team, and this is the sort of win that helps them believe their self-made image.
Stars stepping up
The inconvenient truth about Gore: He's ageless. Gore and the 49ers' other available premier players all stepped up with Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith out of action. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman turned in one of the best games of his career with two sacks, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and a tipped pass that turned into an interception. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin dominated the cornerbacks across from him.
After two rough outings and a shaky first quarter, Colin Kaepernick put together two nice long touchdown drives to put the game away. He wasn't perfect, but he trusted his receivers more and avoided big mistakes.
The 49ers had 11 drives that gained 12 yards or less, and they still won in a rout. But this game wasn't about the quarterback, just like so many other wins during the Harbaugh era.