SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The big plays that have eluded the 49ers most of this season showed up again, with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith leading the way against the very Baltimore Ravens team they helped lead to a Super Bowl victory against San Francisco three seasons ago.
Colin Kaepernick, sporting a rare postgame tie and spectacles, is regaining some of his swagger. Even if the Niners are now just 2-4 after snapping a four-game losing streak in Sunday’s 25-20 win against the hapless Ravens.
Kaepernick for one is sensing a shift as his team makes small strides each week.
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”We’re a 2-4 football team that needs to get some more wins,” he said. ”Our team is building where we’re gradually picking up momentum.”
Can’t say the same for the Ravens (1-5), who made mistakes in all phases and were still in it at the end when Joe Flacco threw a desperation pass to the end zone incomplete on the game’s final play. They keep losing the close ones despite having chances down the stretch.
”There’s no excuse,” Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. ”We’re in every single game, so that means we have the opportunity to win. When you mess up, one play is more magnified when you’re losing a lot of games. It’s tough. I know everybody is sitting with probably the worst feelings in their stomachs. But we have to come through. It’s unacceptable.”
Here are some things to take from Baltimore’s first visit to second-year Levi’s Stadium and second Bay Area trip in less than a month:
BOLDIN & SMITH: These two played for Baltimore long enough to understand the Ravens’ system – and how to exploit it, of course.
Torrey Smith caught a career-best 76-yard touchdown pass and finished with three catches for 96 yards, while Boldin made five receptions for 102 yards.
”It was cool to see a lot of people who mean a lot to me, both on and off the field,” Smith said. ”It was weird to look across and know I was competing against them. But I’m all in out West. That doesn’t change how special my time was there or how much the people in that organization mean to me, but I have a job to do out here.”
BACK ON TRACK?: If the 49ers can beat rival Seattle in the short week Thursday night, they might be able to get back in this division race. At least that’s how they’re approaching it after finally returning to the win column for the first time since Week 1 against Minnesota.
”We’re measured by wins and losses, so to get one in the left-hand column is very important,” coach Jim Tomsula said. ”I see them getting better. We have to get better on game day and we did that today.”
DROPS ON BOTH SIDES OF BALL: Steve Smith dropped two balls in the end zone. The Ravens’ defense dropped two more would-be interceptions. Flacco threw a pair of interceptions.
The mistakes were everywhere for the reeling Ravens, enduring the worst start in franchise history with another tough stretch ahead. They must come back out West – Baltimore already played at Oakland on Sept. 20 – to face Arizona in a Monday night game Oct. 26.
”We’re right there, and we got heart like you can’t believe,” coach John Harbaugh said. ”We got a bunch more games to play and there’s a lot of wins in front of us for the season, and we’ll find a way to get them.”
WRIGHT GETS BURNED: Cornerback Shareece Wright did plenty to help his old team stop its skid in a forgettable season debut.
Wright, released by the 49ers on Oct. 10 without being active for the first four games then signed by the Ravens last week, was flagged for holding Boldin in the first quarter to set up Phil Dawson’s second of four field goals. Torrey Smith burned the cornerback on his long TD, then Wright yielded a 26-yard gain to Boldin on another drive that ended with a field goal by Dawson. The cornerback then fell down on Quinton Patton’s 21-yard touchdown catch in the fourth
49ERS DEFENSE: NaVorro Bowman had 15 tackles and Michael Wilhoite had another 13, and these two have begun to find a defensive flow leading a unit that lost stars Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Chris Borland to retirement during the offseason and pass-rusher Aldon Smith, now with the Raiders.
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