SAN FRANCISCO — After a decade-long drought, the San Francisco 49ers are heading back to the playoffs. Their 26-0 win over the St. Louis Rams gives them their first NFC West title since the 2002 season.
The 49ers’ offense came to life in the second half with two touchdown passes to put the game out of reach. The Rams were without quarterback Sam Bradford and backup A.J. Feeley could not get into rhythm all game.
For quarterback Alex Smith, who has been with the team since 2005, it was a great team victory for the 49ers.
“It feels great, it’s what you work for,” Smith said. “The team is so committed as a group. Everybody has put in so much time in what we do and how we do it… There’s so much more football ahead of us.”
It was also a big day for running back Frank Gore. Gore’s 2-yard run early in the second quarter moved him to first on the team’s all-time rushing record, surpassing Hall of Famer Joe Perry’s mark of 7,344 yards.
“It’s a blessing,” Gore said of breaking the record and becoming playoff eligible for the first time in his career. “The one thing I am happy about is that I get an opportunity to play in the postseason.”
It was a slow first half for the 49ers but it got rolling after halftiome. With a 9-0 lead, the 49ers’ pressure got to Feeley. On the Rams’ first drive, Feeley was hit by linebacker Parys Haralson on a throw. The wobbly pass was intercepted by Dashon Goldson. He would be flagged for excessive celebration, putting the 49ers at their own 12-yard line.
San Francisco was able to overcome the penalty and score on the drive. Smith connected with Michael Crabtree on a 52-yard touchdown catch to put the 49ers up 16-0.
“Just had to go get the ball,” Crabtree said of the catch. “Alex made a great throw and I ran up under it.”
In the fourth quarter, the 49ers put the game out of reach as they scored with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Kyle Williams. That score would be the longest touchdown catch of the season for the 49ers.
The 49ers defense set the tone in the first half. Up 3-0, pressure from the defense caused Feeley to lose his grip on the ball, turning it over. Defensive end Ray McDonald was credited with the forced fumble and teammate Aldon Smith recovered the ball on the 5-yard line.
The 49ers offense stalled throughout the first half, resulting in only three field goals made. But that doesn’t take away from what the team has accomplished.
“It’s good, great win,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I wanted to see how our team would come back after a tough loss on the road and they came back like mighty men.”
- LB Patrick Willis injured his right hamstring during the first quarter attempting a tackle and did not return in the game. He will have an MRI on Monday.
- K David Akers’ late second quarter field goal was his 31st made attempt of the season, breaking the team’s single season record held by Jeff Wilkins.
- DE Ray McDonald’s forced fumble in the second quarter was the first of his career.
- The last time the 49ers shut out a team was October 4, 2009, a 35-0 win over the St. Louis Rams.
- QB Alex Smith’s 142.3 passer rating for the game is a career high.
- Rookie LB Aldon Smith had two sacks, giving him 9.5 sacks for the season.
- Backup QB Colin Kaepernick came into the game midway through the fourth quarter.