Sunday's lopsided win in Nashville was significant in a few different ways for the San Francisco 49ers.
First, the 14-point win gave them four in a row for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. For whatever reason, San Francisco was unable to string together four-straight wins in the regular season or playoffs last year, despite finishing 11-4-1. They won their final three games - including the playoffs - before falling in the Super Bowl to the Ravens.
It was also the fourth-straight time the 49ers scored 30 points or more. That hasn't happened since 1998. They had not won four consecutive games by double digits since 1997. Those teams were quarterbacked by Steve Young.
San Francisco played perhaps its best three quarters of the season before Tennessee scored all its points in the fourth. Now the 49ers head to London to play the win-less Jaguars, who suffered their seventh loss of the season Sunday hosting the Chargers, 24-6.
A Balanced Attack
Sunday's game was easily the 49ers' most balanced win of the season. Paced by Frank Gore's 104 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, the offense also got quality contributions in the passing game from Anquan Boldin (five catches, 74 yards) and Vernon Davis (four catches, 62 yards).
While they still haven't had an emergent game from a secondary wideout, San Francisco hasn't needed it during its current run. With Mario Manningham likely to return either this week or the following the bye, the passing game is in better shape than the overall numbers would indicate. The 49ers came into Sunday averaging the third-fewest passing yards in the NFL (191).
Colin Kaepernick's outstanding day was highlighted by his 20-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter. He was efficient enough through the air, completing 13 of 21 throws for 199 yards. He added 68 yards on 11 carries, taking advantage of a look the Titans' defensive front was giving him that allowed for the read option to return to offense in force.
The 49ers dialed up the read option more Sunday than any other game, proving they're true to their word when they say the offense changes week to week. Should defenses start overcompensating for the read option again, it could open things up in the interior running game and for tight ends through the air.
Taking Advantage of Mistakes
The Titans had 10 penalties for 100 yards. None was more important than Akeem Ayers' personal foul on Kaepernick, taking away an interception deep in their territory just two plays before his 20-yard touchdown run down the left side.
Tennessee's next possession lasted just three plays and ended on Tramaine Brock's third interception in as many weeks. He returned the ball to the Titans' 45. The offense promptly drove and scored on Gore's one-yard TD run.
Jake Locker, starting for the first time since suffering knee and hip injuries in Week 4 against the Jets, tried to hit Nate Washington deep down to the right, but was undercut by Brock. Washington ran a stop-and-go route that Broke read the entire way and made the easy interception.
That sequence led to the 17-0 score going into the half. The 49ers' received the start the third quarter and broke Tennessee's back with a 12-play scoring drive that took 7:40 off the clock. It was their second 12-play drive of the game and pushed the score to 24-0.
Another Strong Day for the Defense
The 49ers' defense forced three punts and an interception on the Titans' four first-half possessions. Tennessee had just 99 yards.
Patrick Willis led the way with nine total tackles, followed up NaVorro Bowman with six. Justin Smith (2) and Ahmad Brooks each registered sacks. Smith had been nursing a shoulder injury while Brooks was absent from the team while tending to a personal matter in Virginia Thursday and Friday.
Ray McDonald played well and told reporters his right biceps injury was markedly better than last week.
Glenn Dorsey made the start despite being questionable with his hamstring injury. Quinton Dial made his first pro appearance in the third quarter, but played at left defensive end for a few snaps. His positioning was somewhat of a surprise, but the defensive line could use that type of versatility.
The 49ers were out-gained 368-349, but 144 yards came on the Titans' last two scoring drives in the fourth quarter.
Injuries to Safeties
Neither injury appears serious. But it's worth pointing out the drop off the team saw with their absences. The first play after Reid left in the fourth was Chris Johnson's 66-yard touchdown catch that saw Craig Dahl and C.J. Spillman miss opportunities to make the play.
San Francisco avoided a potential trap game Sunday and now head to London with a ton of confidence knowing their next opponent is the worst team in the NFL.
There will be distractions aplenty across the pond, but the 49ers' makeshift headquarters for the week will be away from the city. They will switch hotels later in the week in preparation for Sunday's game.
There's a chance Manningham could return this week, but the team won't be in a rush to bring him back given the way the offense has played recently.
Eric Wright and Tank Carradine are long shots to be added to the 53-man roster off the reserve/NFI list this week. They have until Nov. 5 - during the bye week - to be added, released, or shut down for the season on injured reserve.
Nnamdi Asomugha was a healthy inactive for a second-straight week. With Darryl Morris flashing on special teams coverage, Wright's return would likely mean the end of Asomugha in San Francisco, assuming Wright's made a good impression in his his first practices with the team.
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