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Niners QB Colin Kaepernick heads to the end zone with an escort from tackle Joe Staley. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
After losing their first game of the season last week to the Vikings in Minnesota, the 49ers regrouped at practice in Youngstown, Ohio.
The question facing head coach Jim Harbaugh’s crew was, would the Niners rebound, or was the loss in Minnesota a sign of cracks in what was billed to be a team capable of competing for the Super Bowl?
“When you come off a loss, you want to get back to work and make darn sure it doesn’t happen again,” Harbaugh told reporters early in the week in Ohio. “That’s the mindset we have every day … to work on that mindset in preparation for the game on Sunday.”
Judging by Sunday’s 34-0 victory by the Niners over the New York Jets at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, San Francisco’s mindset this past week must have been just fine.
The 49ers went back to their roots, pounding out 245 yards on the ground while stifling the Jets on defense – allowing just 145 total yards – in improving to 3-1 this season.
Frank Gore rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown, Kendall Hunter added 56 yards on the grown and a TD and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick was thrown into the mix as a change-of-pace running-threat substitute for starter Alex Smith on several occasions and rushed for 50 yards on five carries, including a 7-yard TD run in the second quarter that put the 49ers up 7-0.
Kaepernick’s first carry of the game resulted in a 17-yard gain, and his second carry, a sweep to the left out of the shotgun, was good for the touchdown. Aside from working Kaepernick into the flow of the game, the Niners added a couple of other wrinkles into their rushing game, with wideout Mario Manningham picking up 28 yards on an end-around and receiver Kyle Williams gaining 9 yards on an option pitch from Smith.
Smith, meanwhile, threw just 21 times, completing 12, for 143 yards, spreading his completions among six receivers – and going back to his interception-free ways.
On defense, the 49ers – who were playing without injured starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga -- gave up only 45 yards on the ground and sacked Mark Sanchez three times (twice by Aldon Smith).
San Francisco also returned to playing solid, opportunistic football – a facet missing against the Vikes last week – by not turning the ball over, scoring a TD on Carlos Rogers’ 51-yard return of a fumble by Santonio Holmes and blocking a punt in the fourth quarter to set up Hunter’s 1-yard TD for the final score of the game.
It was an all-around dominating performance for the 49ers against the Jets (now 2-2), who play host to the Buffalo Bills next Sunday afternoon at Candlestick Park. The Bills (2-2) lost 52-28 to the New England Patriots.