Going into Sunday night’s game against the Houston Texans, the 49ers ranked near the bottom of the NFL in turnover ratio.
Through four games, the Niners had just five takeways on defense, with two fumble recoveries and three interceptions, while giving the ball up nine times.
Against the Texans, however, the Niners feasted, intercepting Houston quarterback Matt Schaub three times and recovering a fumble, too, in posting a 34-3 victory at Candlestick Park to win their second straight game and improve to 3-2.
It was the seventh time the 49ers have given up three or fewer points in a game since Jim Harbaugh became head coach in 2011, the most in the NFL over that period.
Tramaine Brock set the tone for the evening, returning an interception by Schaub 18 yards on the Texans’ first possession to put San Francisco up 7-0. It marked the fourth straight game Schaub had thrown a pick-six interception.
Then in the second quarter with San Francisco up 14-0, Brock picked off Schaub again, returning the ball 13 yards to the Houston 32-yard line and setting up a quick, four-play push that ended with Anthony Dixon’s 2-yard TD run that gave the 49ers a 21-0 halftime lead.
Tweeted the Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows: “The 49ers at long last have discovered their No. 2 wide receiver: Tramaine Brock.”
Late in the third quarter, Schaub was intercepted for the last time by reserve defensive lineman Tony Jerrod-Eddie – playing for Ray McDonald, who had to leave with a biceps injury – when Jerrod-Eddie dropped into coverage and Schaub threw it right to him. Three plays later, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick passed to tight end Vernon Davis, who got loose down the sideline for a 64-yard scoring play that upped the 49ers’ margin to 31-3.
Meanwhile, the 49ers offensive line blocked the way it did a little more than a week ago in a victory over the Rams, opening good holes for Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Dixon and LaMichael James, who saw his first action of the season late in the game.
The 49ers rushed for 177 yards on 36 carries, with Gore picking up 81 on 17 carries and scoring a TD. Kaepernick didn’t have a great game throwing the ball – completing 6-of-15 for 113 yards and a TD – put was outstanding on the 49ers’ first possession of the game, completing three passes on third downs to keep a 12-play, 65-yard drive alive. That drive, culminating with Gore’s short TD run, gave San Francisco an early 14-0 lead and put a struggling Houston offense in a big hole.
Unable to mount any comeback in the second half, the 49ers (and Texans) fans were leaving Candlestick Sunday night still with several minutes on the scoreboard, prompting longtime Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto to tweet: “Go home, all you woodland creatures. Nothing more to see here. Time to find your cars and clog the freeways…”
Now with a two-game winning streak, the 49ers will host the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday at 1:25 p.m.