NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 49ers unleashed quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s running game on Sunday for the first time this season.
Kaepernick held onto the ball after a fake handoff to Frank Gore for a 20-yard touchdown run on a third-and-7 play to provide the springboard for the 49ers’ 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
The 49ers have won four consecutive games, heading into next week’s game in London against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars. Special-teams ace Kassim Osgood scored a fourth-quarter touchdown on a recovery of a muffed punt to send the 49ers over the 30-point mark. It's the first time the 49ers have scored 30-plus points in four straight games since late in the 1998 season.
The breakout dual-threat sensation from a year ago, Kaepernick was held without a rushing touchdown in the 49ers’ first six games of the season. That all changed as he supplied the 49ers with a commanding 10-0 lead with 6:42 remaining in the first half.
Kaepernick made it through a hole that tight end Vance McDonald and fullback Bruce Miller opened along the left side. Then, Gore made a downfield cut block on safety Michael Griffin to enable Kaepernick to get into the end zone.
Kaepernick rushed for 68 yards on 11 attempts. But he didn’t neglect his passing duties, either. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 199 yards in the 49ers’ best all-around showing of the season.
The 49ers’ defense put together a strong effort against Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who made his return to the starting lineup after missing two games with hip and knee injuries.
And Kaepernick added another 20-yard run on the 49ers’ next possession as he converted another third down with a scramble. Three plays later, Gore cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run to stake the 49ers to a commanding lead in the first half.
Gore added another 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. It was his first two-touchdown rushing day in the regular season since the 2009 season finale.
Brock in right spot: Third cornerback Tramaine Brock supplied a big takeaway in the second quarter when he intercepted a poorly thrown Locker pass intended for wide receiver Nate Washington.
Brock has a team-high three interceptions while playing four games after replacing Nnamdi Asomugha. Originally, Brock took over as the third cornerback when Asomugha sustained a knee injury that kept him out of action.
With Asomugha healthy, Brock has remained in that role. Asomugha becomes a candidate to be released when veteran Eric Wright is activated from the reserve/non-football illness list.
Rookie speedster Darryl Morris, whom the 49ers activated to the 53-man roster on Sept. 24, has supplied strong contributions on special teams since his promotion.
Surprise activation: Veteran nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, who sat out two practices last week due a right hamstring strain, was active and started. The 49ers suited up six defensive linemen over concerns that Dorsey would be limited.
The 49ers promoted rookie nose tackle Quinton Dial to the 53-man roster from the reserve/non-football injury list.
After the 49ers had the game in hand late in the third quarter, Dial played left defensive end with Tony Jerod-Eddie at nose tackle and Demarcus Dobbs at right defensive end.
Setting the tone: The 49ers’ first series of the game did not result in a touchdown, but the 49ers served notice of their plan of attack with a 12-play, 65-yard drive that featured six Gore runs and another two from Kaepernick. The 49ers took a 3-0 lead on Phil Dawson’s 44-yard field goal.
This ‘n’ that: Safety Donte Whitner left the game early in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury. . .Rookie safety Eric Reid left the game with seven minutes remaining with lower left leg injury. On the next play, with C.J. Spillman and Craig Dahl at the safety spots, Titans running back Chris Johnson ripped off a 66-yard touchdown touchdown pass from Locker. . .Running back LaMichael James and wide receiver Marlon Moore were healthy inactives. . . Tight end Vance McDonald made a nice 20-yard reception on a tipped pass to set up Gore’s 1-yard touchdown run. The play withstood a Titans challenge. Referee Ron Winter ruled that McDonald was not out of bounds and he a firm grasp of the football upon hitting the ground. . . . The 49ers went with a no-huddle offense on third downs in the first half to prevent the Titans’ defense from getting set up and organized. . . . Defensive end Justin Smith, who entered the game with a half-sack on the season, recorded two sacks in the game. His first sack was a pivotal play as he threw Locker for an 11-yard loss on a third-and-11 situation early in the second quarter. . . . Gore had a 29-yard reception in the third quarter, his longest since the 2010 season. . . . Gore has 66 career total touchdowns tying Roger Craig for third in team history. He has 398 career points, ranking ninth in team history. . . The Titans ended San Francisco’s shutout bid with Rob Bironas’ 31-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.