The San Francisco 49ers began week 5 of the NFL season sitting two games behind the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks. With the 49ers’ big win Sunday night over the Houston Texans, and the Seahawks’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the 49ers are now just one game behind the Seahawks. The 49ers earned that win thanks to an excellent defense and running game, despite Colin Kaepernick’s struggles to complete passes against the NFL’s #1 defense.
Kaepernick began the 2013 season with a bang, throwing for 412 yards and three touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers. Since then, the young quarterback seems to have lost his footing in the passing game. Kaepernick threw for 127, 150, and 167 yards against the Seahawks, Colts, and St. Louis Rams, respectively. Against the Texans, Kaepernick’s problems continued, as he completed only 6 of 15 passes for 113 yards and 1 touchdown. Fortunately the 49ers’ offense had more to offer in the running game. Frank Gore ran for 81 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown, with Bruce Miller continuing to block very well for him. Kendall Hunter had 5 carries for 29 yards and LaMichael James also saw limited action gaining 31 yards on 4 carries. Though recovering from a hamstring injury, tight end Vernon Davis also contributed to the win with 3 catches for 88 yards and 1 touchdown.
Complementing the success of the offense, the 49ers’ defense dominated the potent Texan offense.
Cornerback Tramaine Brock, starting in place of the injured Nnamdi Asomugha, had two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Linebackers NaVorro Bowman, with 13 combined tackles, and Michael Wilhoite, also with 13 tackles, ruled the field. Wilhoite also sacked Texans backup quarterback T.J. Yates late in the game. Safety Eric Reid also had 8 combined tackles and one near interception. Overall the 49ers’ defense picked off starting quarterback Matt Schaub three times. Safety Donte Whitner forced a fourth Texans turnover as he stripped the ball from Ben Tate, which was then recovered by Tarell Brown.
Despite those successes, the 49ers’ defense was weak against the run. Arian Foster ran for 98 yards on 21 carries. Another concern for the already banged up 49er defense is the possible loss of defensive end Ray McDonald, who left the game in the third quarter with a right-biceps injury. McDonald is
scheduled for an MRI this week.
Despite the injuries on defense and Kaepernick’s struggles, the 49ers looked like their old ruthless selves last night, making tremendous plays on defense and special teams while Gore gashed the Texans’ defense. The 49ers also improved their discipline and ball control, incurring very few penalties and making zero turnovers. Hopefully these improvements will carry over to the 49ers’ next game versus the Arizona Cardinals
(3-2) at Candlestick Park on Sunday, October 13, 2013.