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ST. LOUIS – Colin Kaepernick cemented his future as the 49ers’ starting quarterback in his first Monday night start two seasons ago.
He seems to have a knack of bringing out his best on Mondays. And the 49ers’ 31-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams was the latest example.
Kaepernick became the first 49ers quarterback to win his first four Monday night starts, including that first start against the Chicago Bears in 2012. In four games under the Monday lights, Kaepernick has thrown for 1,028 yards with nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Kaepernick's three TDs lead 49ers past Rams]
And it took the longest pass of his career to help the 49ers rally from a 14-0 deficit late in the first half.
“Big momentum boost for us,” Kaepernick said of his 80-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd with 14 seconds remaining in the first half.
The 49ers had not been able to sustain anything on offense up to that point and had let the clock run down after a second-down play.
“As it was getting to third down, they still had three timeouts, so I was concerned a little bit, but we really wanted to come out of that with points,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “And we took our shot. Kap made a perfect throw – a really good play call. And Brandon Lloyd ran an excellent route and finished it. He got great separation and then finished it.”
Lloyd ran a stop-and-go route against Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was left flat-footed. Kaepernick delivered the pass that Lloyd caught in stride.
“It’s all part of the game,” Lloyd said. “We are expected to make those plays. When it happened, we just hope that we can continue to capitalize on the momentum.”
Kaepernick completed 22 of 36 pass attempts for 343 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating was 120.5. He was not sacked.
The 49ers turned to the passing game after it was evident that the Rams were focused on stopping Frank Gore and the 49ers’ run game by devoting extra defenders to play closer to the line of scrimmage. Gore finished with just 38 yards on 16 rushing attempts. And offensive coordinator Greg Roman decided to feature the passing game.
“They were committing to zero coverage and fog the gaps and they did a really nice job of it,” Harbaugh said. “Running through gaps, making it tough, tough to run. We had to work four our yards. Fortunately, we were able to crack a few and then pass on them.”
Kaepernick second touchdown pass to cap the opening drive of the second half was just as impressive. The play was designed to be a tackle-eligible pass to Joe Staley. But Rams defensive end Robert Quinn slung Staley to the ground, and Kaepernick bought time and found Anquan Boldin in the back of the end zone.
When asked if this was Kaepernick’s best performance, Harbaugh answered, “I always think Colin plays well. He just keeps doing it and doing it. No turnovers from the quarterback position. He is really good at running the team and getting us in the right play and throwing the ball really well. He had some pin-point throws where he just laid in there perfectly.”
Kaepernick was asked if he ever impresses himself.
“Not very often,” he said.
But was his touchdown pass to Boldin one of those times?
“I felt good about it, but there’s still a lot more to do, more to be better at,” he said.