The Edward Jones Dome held the 700th overall Monday Night Football game. It was the perfect setting and stage for San Francisc0 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as he led the team to a 31-17 victory. Let’s recap.
It’s not the most optimistic place to start, but it can’t be ignored. An already injury riddled team took quite a few more blows in the health department. Hawkeye Pierce, himself, would be swamped with this infirmary. Severity is unknown in all cases right now, but add injuries to Patrick Willis (toe), Mike Iupati (concussion), Jimmie Ward (quad) and Stevie Johnson (upper leg) to the 2014 tally.
Colin Kaepernick shows up big on the big stage.
If I were a betting man, which I’m not, I’d bet most were waiting to throw the first stones if Kaepernick faltered. He never did. The St. Louis Rams loaded the box repeatedly against the 49ers in efforts to stop Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. In that, they succeded. But, Colin Kaepernick carved up the Rams defense for 343 passing yards and 3 TDs. The Rams dared Kaepernick to win the game, and he did just that. A blitz heavy scheme never quite reached the 49ers quarterback as he put on an outstanding performance on Monday night. A quick nod to the 49ers O-line as well. They had struggled in pass pro this season up until this point.
Where the Rams defense failed, the 49ers defense succeeded.
I won’t lie to you. To begin the game, I thought Austin Davis was the second coming of Roman Gabriel. Davis was efficient and sound in his decision making. Then, Vic Fangio turned the dogs loose. With a consistent blitz package, the 49ers defense, behind Dan Skuta and Ahmad Brooks, sacked the St. Louis signal caller five times. It showed. The young, confident quarterback turned visibly skittish in the second half. Save for a late second half, field goal scoring drive, Davis was largely ineffective in the second half.
The wide receiver corp really is something else.
Certainly, it’s a deep group. And, that depth is finally starting to show. Kaepernick shows no favoritism as he delivers the ball to Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, and yes, Brandon Lloyd. Three of the four found the end zone against the Rams, and Stevie Johnson added 5 catches for 53. Boldin and Crabtree have been Kaepernick’s security blanked since becoming the 49ers man at the helm. Stevie Johnson is adding similar characteristics. Brandon Lloyd has added that deep route, athletic ability the 49ers have missed in the past from the outside. Here’s to hoping this aspect of the 49ers game continues to evolve.
So far so damn good on that 2014 draft for Trent Baalke.
Baalke takes a lot of heat for his clunker draft of 2012. It’s rightfully so. But, his 2014 (with others) has been a rousing success. Significant playing time has been awarded to half of Baalke’s 2014 draft class. Last night’s game saw significant playing time given to Chris Borland and Dontae Johnson for the first time. Borland played very well in place of Patrick Willis. Johnson sealed the 49ers win with a pick six in the final minute of the game in replacement of fellow rookie Jimmie Ward. Carlos Hyde, Bruce Ellington, and Aaron Lynch have also seen the field effectively and extensively. Add in a Dillon Farrell, an undrafted free agent, sighting on the offensive line and Baalke has to have his chest held high.
The old adage, “winning cures everything”, holds true for the San Francisc0 49ers. What was once ( 3 weeks ag0) the perception of disarray, is now a three game winning streak. Throw the Niners in a blender and press grind. That’s exactly what this club will keep doing amongst chaos. Grinding. With the 49ers upcoming game against the Denver Broncos on the horizon, healing up quickly is imperative. Whatever the case, it’s next man up and on to the next one.