ST. LOUIS – Colin Kaepernick threw two touchdown passes, Frank Gore had his first 100-yard game of the season and the San Francisco 49ers’ defense stepped up without some of their stars Thursday night in a 35-11 rout over the St. Louis Rams.
Anquan Boldin had five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, and Gore had 153 yards on 20 carries and a 34-yard score for San Francisco (2-2), which was outscored 46-10 the previous two games. Navarro Bowman had two of the 49ers’ five sacks with a strip leading to a fourth-quarter scoring run by Anthony Dixon.
The Rams (1-3) had an overtime win and tie against San Francisco last year, and took the early lead. Greg Zuerlein banged in a 40-yard field goal off the right upright, but the 49ers answered with 28 straight points.
The 49ers came close to a Super Bowl title in February and regained their footing against the team that gave them the most trouble last season. Minus cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, and linebackers Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith, they quieted a raucous, hopeful crowd, sending all but a few thousand home early.
Kaepernick had no touchdown passes and four interceptions the previous two weeks and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. He was 15 for 23 for 167 yards.
Boldin had a monster debut with the 49ers after helping the Ravens beat San Francisco in the Super Bowl, but had been quiet along with the rest of the offense the previous two weeks. He had two highlight catches in the second quarter, a 42-yarder despite Cortland Finnegan getting flagged for holding, and a 20-yard score capped by a dive into the end zone after barely avoiding the sideline.
Gore more than doubled his output from the first three weeks and got a lot more work, too, after totaling just 11 carries last week. Four days earlier, DeMarco Murray burned them for 175 yards in Dallas’ 31-7 win.
The Rams have trailed by double digits in every game, making up an 11-point deficit against Arizona in the opener but not gaps of 21 and 24 points against Atlanta and Dallas, and were down by 25 in the fourth quarter against San Francisco.
They got hit by injuries, too, the worst of them when rookie safety T.J. McDonald was carted off with a leg injury in the second half.
After mustering just 25 yards in the first quarter, the 49ers took a noisy crowd out of it in the second, averaging more than 11 yards per snap while piling up 176 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick was 8 of 12 for 104 yards in the half, all but 11 of those yards in the second quarter.
The Rams went for it on third-and-1 from the 49ers’ 34, and Donte Whitner’s diving interception in the end zone set up an eight-play, 80-yard drive capped by Gore’s 34-yard run on third-and-1 in the final minute that made it 14-3.
The San Francisco defense took Gore off the hook for getting stripped by rookie Alec Ogletree and a turnover, forcing St. Louis into a three-and-out.
RAIDERS: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor returned to practice on a limited basis, three days after being knocked out with a concussion, and his status for Sunday’s game remains in question.
Pryor passed a concussion test Wednesday that allowed him to return to practice but he still must be cleared for contact before the Raiders (1-2) decide whether to play him Sunday against Washington (0-3).
DOLPHINS: Defensive end Cameron Wake and defensive tackle Paul Soliai took part in practice on a limited basis despite nursing injuries and might be able to play Monday night at New Orleans.
SAINTS: Running back Mark Ingram said he’s happy to be part of an unbeaten team, even if the running game has struggled and his role has diminished because of an injured toe on his right foot.
BRONCOS: Safety Duke Ihenacho and backup linebacker Paris Lenon were held out of practice.
CHARGERS: Inside linebackers Donald Butler and Manti Te’o practiced and appear to be on track to start against Dallas this weekend.