49ers replay: Two tough teams on tap

It might not have been the most beautiful performance, but the 49ers will take it. Because of where they've been and where they're heading, the Niners are excited to get any win. Especially with their next two games coming against the San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears - two teams that appear to have San Francisco overmatched.

"We have to play well," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "But this game gets us back on track."

The 49ers followed up a humiliating 41-0 loss to the Chiefs - the largest shutout loss in club history - with an encouraging 34-20 victory over the winless Oakland Raiders.

For the first time in a while, the 49ers were expected to win. To actually follow through with a victory is a big lift for the 49ers, especially coming after such a humbling experience against the Chiefs.

"A 41-0 blowout can have two effects," 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich said. "A bunch of guys can start pointing fingers, or guys will be strong enough to turn it around."

The 49ers, at least for one week, turned it around and now take a 2-3 record into Sunday's game against the Chargers at Monster Park, where the 49ers have managed to play well against good teams.

It would also help matters if the 49ers go up against the kind of charitable play that they saw against the Raiders. The 49ers trailed by a touchdown at halftime, but blocked a punt, grabbed four interceptions and returned a backward pass for a touchdown during their 27-point second-half barrage.

In order for the 49ers to be competitive the remainder of the season, they must get the kind of performances they received from quarterback Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore in Week 5. Smith threw a career-high three touchdown passes and Gore rushed for a career-high 134 yards.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner was pushing the right buttons in preparation and with his game calls against his former team. Turner was fired as Raiders coach after last season.

"He put such a great game plan together," Smith said of Turner. "I knew what my role was going to be coming into this week. I knew I wasn't going to pass as much because we planned on running the ball more. I knew I needed to be efficient."

The game was especially gratifying for Gore, who has compiled impressive offensive numbers but whose production had been obscured by four fumbles in the first four games. Gore now is tied for the NFL rushing lead with 465 yards and three touchdowns on 102 carries. He has also caught a team-leading 19 passes for 167 yards.

During practice last week, 49ers running backs coach Bishop Harris had bungie cords around the footballs that Gore carried in each arm. Harris then tugged on the cords to condition Gore to also secure the football.

"I still need to work hard and practice hard," Gore said. "Coach Bishop and I need to keep doing what we're doing."

After compiling a lowly 40.8 passer rating in seven starts as a rookie, Smith has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,071 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Heading into Sunday's game against the Chargers, Smith is 13th in the NFL with a passer rating of 85.2.

--- RB Frank Gore was the workhorse for the 49ers, gaining 134 yards on 27 carries against the Raiders. He also caught three passes for 38 yards.
--- LT Jonas Jennings left the game in the first quarter with a left wrist sprain. Jennings did not return to the game, but he is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Chargers.
--- LG Larry Allen missed his fourth consecutive game with a knee injury, but there is a chance he'll be available to play against the Chargers.
--- QB Alex Smith, who had never thrown more than one touchdown in a game, had a career-high three scoring passes against the Raiders. His 120.5 passer rating was also a career high. Smith completed 15 of 19 passes for 165 yards. He threw one interception.
--- CB Walt Harris had a career-high three interceptions and is a leading candidate to be named NFC defensive player of the week. Harris' first interception came in the end zone to thwart a Raiders drive. The 49ers then marched 80 yards for a touchdown.
--- RB Maurice Hicks had his first career touchdown reception. He took a screen pass and ran 33 yards for the touchdown. It was Hicks' only reception of the game. He did not carry the ball. Afterward, he was listed as probable on the preliminary injury report with a shoulder stinger.

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