Sleep walking at the start of the game, the 49ers finally woke up with a long touchdown drive midway through the second quarter but lost starting quarterback Alex Smith for the game.
The 12-play drive included a third-and-15 scenario in San Francisco territory, and quarterback Smith did what he's been doing all season -- he looked for Michael Crabtree on a short pass over the middle. Crabtree also did what he's been doing all season -- he took a short pass and then fought for extra yardage near the first-down marker.
He didn't make it, but he got the ball close enough that Smith's dive on fourth down got the 49ers a first down -- by perhaps an inch.
Smith again connected with Crabtree over the middle to get the ball deep into Rams territory. And then on 3rd and 7 from the St. Louis 14-yard line, he looked for Crabtree again. The receiver caught the ball inside the 10, juked a couple of Rams and then waltzed into the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the season and his third in the last two games.
Smith, however, left the game shortly thereafter with a concussion that likely was suffered at the end of the first quarter when he was hit by a Rams linebacker while struggling for extra yardage. Colin Kaepernick took over at that point.
The touchdown drive, however, seemed to swing the momentum away from St. Louis, which had the two biggest plays of the game in the opening quarter -- a 36-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Brian Quick and a 32-yard run by Daryl Richardson. That set up a seven-yard touchdown run by Steven Jackson and the Rams took a 14-0 lead against the listless 49ers.
The 49ers had been dominated in the trenches, both on offense and defense, before their touchdown drive.
-- Matt Barrows