5 things to know after 49ers pass Rams 23-13

A passing game scrutinized for weeks suddenly is on a nice roll

for San Francisco. At the perfect time, too, with a playoff berth

at stake.

For Colin Kaepernick, it sure helps to have his entire receiving

corps healthy at last.

First Mario Manningham returned, and now Michael Crabtree made

his season debut for the 49ers (8-4) in Sunday’s 23-13 victory

against the St. Louis Rams. Add Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon

Davis to that group and Kaepernick has plenty of choices when it

comes to throwing the ball down field.

Boldin caught nine passes for his second-best performance of the

year behind a 13-reception season opener against Green Bay, while

Davis made a hurdling 17-yard touchdown grab among his four

catches. Crabtree delivered an impressive 60-yard catch and run in

his season debut six months after surgery on a torn right Achilles

tendon.

That after a 27-6 win at Washington last Monday night.

”It feels great,” Kaepernick said. ”It’s always good to have

(Boldin and Crabtree) at your disposal on the field to make plays.

… We’ve just had more opportunities the last couple of games. It

was something we thought we could take advantage of.”

Here are five things to take from the 49ers’ win Sunday as St.

Louis (5-7) made its final visit to Candlestick Park in the

stadium’s farewell season:

HURDLING VERNON DAVIS: It’s just like Davis to show off some

high style.

San Francisco’s tight end has a new signature move to go with

his jump shot over the crossbar: A high hurdle over defenders.

While he has been doing the leap since his college days at

Maryland, it’s more recent in the NFL.

”It’s just instincts,” Davis said. ”I said, `Look, I won’t be

denied.”’

He did it not once but twice Sunday, including on a 17-yard

touchdown catch from Kaepernick in the fourth quarter.

”Very athletic,” Kaepernick said of the move.

Boldin just rolled his eyes and offered, ”Stay on the

ground.”

Davis’ 50th career touchdown catch, No. 10 this season, moved

him into fourth place in franchise history behind Hall of Famer

Jerry Rice (176), Terrell Owens (81) and Gene Washington (59).

CRABTREE’S DEBUT: Crabtree just danced, he couldn’t help

himself.

After that 60-yard catch along the sideline in the third

quarter, he shimmied before throwing both arms into the air in

celebration. This was a long time coming for San Francisco’s top

2012 wideout after months of tireless rehab.

While he enjoyed the celebration, he wanted more out of that

play. Kaepernick teased him, and so did Boldin.

”I wish I would have scored,” Crabtree said. ”I was supposed

to take that to the house.”

Crabtree committed two early penalties – an illegal block and an

offensive pass interference – during San Francisco’s opening drive

that he chalked up to having to ”get those jitters out,” then

settled in nicely.

”Having him back is amazing, man, just his presence,” Davis

said.

RAMS PENALTIES: Many times the Rams drove deep into San

Francisco territory only to thwart their chances with costly

penalties.

From offensive pass interference to delay of game, St. Louis

struggled to sustain drives or find any kind of offensive rhythm

while being penalized 11 times for 105 lost yards.

”I look at it like we could have helped ourselves out a lot,”

Rams wide receiver Chris Givens said. ”If we played cleaner

football or better football, we would have been in a better

position to win the game.”

The 49ers had their own miscues, winding up with nine penalties

for 85 yards.

ST. LOUIS MISMATCH: When 49ers left tackle Joe Staley went down

with a right knee injury in the first quarter, Robert Quinn had a

nice opening to try for increased pressure on Kaepernick.

Yet the 49ers offensive line held its ground, even with

little-used Joe Looney thrown into the mix after making his NFL

debut last Monday night in a win at Washington.

While the Rams sacked Kaepernick four times, they failed to get

the game-breaking plays they have had of late. The defensive line

had scored a touchdown in the previous two games.

”We had a real rough day today,” linebacker Alec Ogletree

said. ”We didn’t make enough plays to get the win.”

DEFENSIVE BREAK: San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive

coordinator Vic Fangio got an extended look at the second-team

defense down the stretch once the game was decided.

Not only did the first unit earn a much-deserved breather, the

backups made some nice plays, too. The group did surrender a late

St. Louis touchdown, Brian Quick’s 3-yard touchdown catch with 18

seconds remaining.

”We didn’t want to give up a touchdown,” safety Donte Whitner

said, also appreciative the first team got a rest late in the game.

”We understand we can’t lose a guy in garbage time.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org