San Francisco, CA - Making the playoffs in recent years has been easy for the 49ers. But this year it's different, every game at this point of the season is a must win. San Francisco's 23-13 victory over the St.Louis Rams keeps them in the NFC Wild Card race.
"Whatever position we are in for the playoffs, we are just taking it one game at a time," said Michael Crabtree. "Next on the schedule, that's how I take it."
Crabtree made his long awaited debut after suffering a torn right Achilles tendon during Organized Team Activity. In his first start of the season, he did not disappoint. A 60-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick in the third quarter, tied his career long reception on 12/26/10 against the Rams.
In fact, his return gave the 49ers offense more opportunities and space on the field. And Kaepernick responded well finding his receivers including Vernon Davis who felt the need to apply veridical leaps over two of his opponents.
Davis' did a high hurdle over safety Rodney McLeod in the first half and then again, over Janoris Jenkins to land in the end zone for the touchdown to start the fourth quarter. His athleticism proved to be more than just your average tight end.
"Defenders are always coming for my knees, my ankles and things like that," he explained. "But it was just in the moment. At that moment I said, 'I'm going to leap over that guy.' I think my first time doing it was in New Orleans. I just did whatever I could to make a play."
Anquan Boldin caught nine passes from Kaepernick who went 19 of 28 for 275 yards, which included the 60-yard catch. Frank Gore rushed for a 3-yard touchdown and the win increased the teams position in the playoff race. After the game all three offensive players [Crabtree, Boldin and Kaepernick] took the podium together and addressed that 60-yard pass.
Jokingly, Kaepernick said, " he was supposed to score."
"I wish I would've scored, Crabtree said. "I was supposed to take that to the house."
The Rams got off to a good start in the first quarter shutting down San Francisco's offense. St. Louis forced the 49ers to kick only one field goal in the first quarter providing good defense. But that didn't last long, especially when Gore scored the first touchdown in the second quarter to give San Francisco a 13-0 lead.
"We dug ourselves into a hole and couldn't get out of it," said Chris Long. "We didn't make enough plays, they made more plays than us. There were a ton of flags. We just couldn't seem to get break."
Despite the 49ers turnover late in the third, the Rams thwarted another drive and kicked a field goal instead. St. Louis managed 11 total yards in the first quarter and 73 yards in the first half. Quarterback Kellen Clemens went 19 of 37 for 218 yards with a late touchdown pass to Brain Quick in the fourth.
"We had opportunities which would've gotten us into a little bit of a better rhythm offensively," Clemens said. "But unfortunately, we didn't make them. Their defense made plays, obviously that is a very talented defense but it was not our best showing."
Now San Francisco must turn their attention to the Seattle Seahawks who defeated them 29-3 back on September 15. They lead the NFC West division with a 10-1 record. Next week they come to Candlestick and the 49ers can't wait for the rematch.
"We're very eager," said safety Donte Whitner. They embarrassed us last time."
"Yes, it's here," Davis said when asked about the excitement of the Seahawks coming next week. "We look forward to the match but we can't get overwhelmed with it. As much as we want to beat Seattle, we can't get overwhelmed."