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Numbers don't always tell the whole story. Sometimes stats can be misleading and not offer a true representation of how a game actually played out or how much of an impact a player may have had. For the 49ers in Week 4, however, the box score offered an accurate description of what occurred on the field...49ers' football.
San Francisco looked every bit the physical bully they have been the past two seasons. They ran the ball 40 times for 219 yards and balanced that with a mistake free passing attack. 25 drop backs compared to the 40 rushing attempts showed a renewed commitment to the power running game. On the other side of the ball, five sacks of Sam Bradford and only 18 yards allowed on the ground gave every indication that the defense was back to it's stingy ways even in the absence of it's two best players. It was a case of the 49ers being the 49ers.
Frank the tank
It's no coincidence that when the 49ers looked to regain their offensive identity, they attempted to do so in the hands of their best player. Frank Gore has been the rock of the offense for nine seasons and he delivered when the team needed him most. Gore gained 153 yards on his 20 carries and scored a major momentum swinging 34 yard touchdown on a 4th and short with 37 seconds left in the first half. After the game, Colin Kaepernick said Gore was a future Hall of Famer during the post game NFL Network interview. With 9,134 yards in his career, Gore currently ranks 33rd all time in rushing. If he can stay healthy another year or two, he may indeed make a case for Canton.
Bowman's a beast
Without Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith, the 49ers needed someone to step up to the plate and help a struggling defense find it's way. NaVorro Bowman may have played the game of his life as he dominated the Rams to the tune of six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Bowman's efforts are often overshadowed by some of the other stars on the Niner's defense but last night it was his star that shined the brightest when they needed it the most.
Michael Wilhoite, Dan Skuta, Corey Lemonier, Tramaine Brock and Glenn Dorsey all played very well and gave some hope that the team has more depth than originally thought. Lemonier may have stuck out the most, showing he can be a disruptive presence early in his career. The 49ers will give him an extended look as there is no specific time table for when we might see Aldon Smith again. Although Smith being out will eventually hurt more than we saw last night, it could be a blessing in disguise in terms of the development of Lemonier.
It's stil just Anquan
Even though he scored a touchdown, Vernon Davis was not quite 100 percent as he continues to recover from his hamstring injury. Still, having him in the lineup gave Boldin more looks at single coverage and he responded with 90 yards and a score. The production beyond him at receiver is still concerning though, as the other 49er wide outs only had three catches for 19 yards. The team did seem ready to move on from Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore as Quinton Patton and Jonathan Baldwin appear to have jumped them on the depth chart. Unfortunately, Patton exited the game early on with a foot injury but Baldwin did look serviceable in his first action with the team.
Back to the future
The defense looked like it's 2011 version even without some key cogs. The pass rush beyond Aldon Smith was a concern coming in and they responded with 5 sacks as Bowman, Dorsey, Ahmad Brooks and Justin Smith all got in on the action. The unit held the Rams to only 18 yards on the ground and forced 11 punts. The secondary, while just coming up with one interception, was in position for more as they finally showed the ability to make some momentum swinging plays. Keep in mind it was the Rams, who seem incapable of even attempting a pass over 10 yards, but the signs were encouraging none the less.
Kaepernick plays clean
There were definitely some plays he left out on the field but overall Kaepernick played a solid game. He made two huge third down throws to Boldin on the 49ers' first touchdown drive and avoided the costly turnovers that had been plaguing him. It's a step in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done. It can't be stressed enough though, this is a young quarterback who has only played 14 games. He will have ups and downs as he ultimately grows into the complete player he'll become. Kaepernick isn't there yet but it may be unfair to take his temperature every week. This is a process.
When Joe Staley was rolled over in garbage time and went to the ground screaming, it didn't look good. Thoughts of shuffling the line and what would happen the rest of the season without him probably danced around in a lot of fan's heads. The good news is it looks like the only thing that is hurt is Staley's ego as he should be fine but took some ribbing from his teammates. Alex Boone had some fun at his expense mimicking his screams in the locker room.
It won't take long to see if the 49ers are indeed back or if their performance was a product of playing a weak Rams' team as they host the talented Houston Texans Sunday night in Week 5. The schedule will soften up after Houston so if the Niners can get themselves to 3-2, they could go on a run and start to look like a playoff contender again.