(By Daisy Barringer)
It was a slow start. A start so slow that, at one point, my friend pulled up a picture of a kale salad on his phone and made me look at it while he carefully described each of the ingredients.
Luckily, that all changed in the second quarter when Kaepernick connected with Anquan Boldin to put the Niners up 7-3, followed by a game-changing run by Gore five minutes later.
4th and 1 on the Rams 34-yard-line. The Niners go for it, giving the ball to Frank Gore, who doesn’t just get the first down, but runs for 34 yards and a touchdown. It was a thing of beauty. (Personally, I was so excited that I jumped up on my chair at the bar and threw my hands in the air. Does anyone know why celebration instinct requires being as high off of the ground as possible? I swear it’s the only time I think it’s appropriate to climb on furniture.)
Glorious run and chair jumping aside, Gore’s TD was inspiring because it showed that maybe offensive coordinator Greg Roman was finally listening to the critics and going back to basics. I mean, we have Gore. Let’s use him. Especially against teams like the Rams who can’t defend the run.
It wasn’t just the run game that the Rams couldn’t defend, however; Boldin was Kap’s favorite target of the night (5 receptions for 90 yards), but Kap found 7 receivers total and ended the night 15 of 23 for 167 yards. I think a lot of us were nervous after the Seattle and Colts game—thinking that maybe Kaepernick wasn’t the rockstar everyone’s made him out to be—but I think we can rest easy. He’s going to have inconsistent moments, but so would any QB who’s never started a full season.
That said, I do agree with C.W. Nevius’ recent blog post on SFGate. Kaepernick needs to “stop acting like a jerk.” I worried about this a lot during the offseason—that all of the hype was going to go to Kaepernick’s head. That the magazine covers and endorsement deals and media attention were a bad thing for the young QB. I mean, he’s the first 49ers quarterback EVER to go to a Super Bowl and lose. What he needs to learn is humility and graciousness. He should look at the QB greats before him—like Montana and Young—and take a page from their playbook.
Aside: I hate “Kaepernicking.” I need to get over it because it’s not going anywhere, but I think QBs should celebrate modestly, not with some catch move. When the Rams' lineman who sacked Kap last night celebrated by kissing his bicep, I couldn’t help feel like Kaepernick deserved it. If you have a signature move, you open yourself up to the possibility of having it rubbed in your face.
Anyway, back to what's important.
The defense, who was missing Patrick Willis (injury) and Aldon Smith (rehab), looked great. I was super nervous that without Willis and Aldon, the defense would stumble, but instead they totally stepped up. Sam Bradford was sacked five times and hit an additional eight. Whitner dropped an interception (that bounced directly into the hands of a Rams player in a way that would have been comical if not so painful), but he also had his first interception of the season off of a pass tipped by Tramaine Brock.
The defensive MVP, however, goes to NaVorro Bowman who played as though there were two of him and finished the game with 5 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. Overall, it was a huge relief to see that the defense can still dominate even without key players. Willis will hopefully be back soon, but rehab typically lasts at least 30 days.
In general, there isn’t much to complain about. If I had to pick something, it would be Phil Dawson who missed a 53-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter and didn’t stand a chance to make the 71-yard free kick, even though it was kind of fun to see that, if only because I learned something news. (The official rule: after a fair catch, a field-goal attempt cannot be rushed by the defense.)
I was also schooled by Twitter when, after Joe Staley went down screaming like a hyena at the end of the 4th, I bitched about him being in the game. Thank you, Twitter, for showing me the error of my ways and pointing out that there was no one to sub for him. (By the way, F-you to the chump who also took the opportunity to call me a "moron” and “fatso.” Charmed.)
Luckily, even though Staley went down making a noise that made me think his football career was over, he later walked out of the X-ray room without a limp and even took to Twitter to joke about the incident, saying, “I’m good. And I scream like no dude should ever scream.” We agree.
Overall, it was a fantastic game. The Niners looked like themselves and, if my predictions for the season are right—which they have been so far—we’ve got a bunch of wins ahead of us. (Knock on wood, please.) I think we’ll beat the Texans, Cards, Titans, Jaguars and Panthers. Or at least I really, really hope so.
One thing’s for sure though. With the 35-11 win, we’re back on track. And if everyone keeps playing and coaching the way they did last night, we’ve still got a chance at this thing.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I somehow managed to get a little tipsy on Bud Lights at The Blackthorn Tavern last night (my favorite place to watch the games) and I need to go take some Advil. Seriously though, did you even know that was possible? I always thought Bud Lights were just for hydrating. So confusing.
Great game, Niners. Good offense, great defense, and solid coaching. Keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll never have to fight again.