In a game that quickly spiraled out of control for the visiting Houston Texans , the San Francisco 49ers were able to pounce and finally string together their first back-to-back wins of the 2013 season.
The 34-3 win also moved San Francisco above .500 for the first time this season.
In Week 5, Matt Schaub and the Texans showed up at Candlestick Park only to get punched in the mouth and sent home shaking.
It was a fairly humiliating display by the reigning AFC South champs. Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers beat them up with a one-dimensional attack that predominantly featured Frank Gore and a defensive unit that was largely made of up reserve players.
Moreover, the performances by particular 49ers were very much "in your face." The Niners defense has taken next-man-up attitude and have thrived despite the absence of such key personnel like Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis.
Proceed through the following Week 5 report card for San Francisco.
Statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com and Pro Football Focus, unless specified otherwise.
Another week, another no-show by the dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers quarterback had only six completions on the night for just 113 yards passing. The anemic performance did include a 64-yard touchdown throw to Vernon Davis in the fourth quarter. Had they not connected on that score, Kap would’ve somehow had an even uglier stat line.
He avoids a failing grade here simply because he didn’t turn the ball over, but 49er fans are still waiting for the dynamo inside No. 7 to reappear.
Lost in the Niners big win over Houston is that Colin Kaepernick is still struggling: 6/15 for 113 yards. 64 of them came on one throw—trey wingo (@wingoz) October 7, 2013
Frank Gore: A+
Frank the Tank had 17 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.8 yards per attempt.
He has been an unstoppable force over the last two weeks and has proven to be the only bright spot on a shaky 49ers offense. Five games in and a 30-year-old Gore remains one of the most productive backs in the league and the primary offensive weapon in two of the team’s three victories in 2013.
Kendall Hunter: B+
Functioning as the Gore's main backup (and one of the top weapons on the San Francisco offense this season), Hunter did the most he could with his limited carries, managing to average 5.8 yards per attempt.
Anthony Dixon: B-
Boobie Dixon had five carries for 12 yards and a touchdown, which is his standard contribution in a nutshell. He is never going to collect big chunks of yards, but every now and again, he can make an impressive short-yardage run. His score against the Texans gives him a solid grade.
Anquan Boldin: C
Two catches for 21 yards on six targets isn’t very good.
Each week it has been harder and harder to visualize Boldin as a true No. 1 option for this team. Sure, he is in the mold of Michael Crabtree, in that he is a possession receiver who can move the chains, but the attention he’s garnered from opposing defenses has made it difficult for him to produce on a consistent basis.
Kyle Williams, Jon Baldwin and Marlon Moore: F
Jon Baldwin received his first start on Sunday night and was targeted twice but had no catches. In fact, every other wide receiver besides Boldin failed to come up with a reception. The 49ers WR position would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
This group has been incredibly unproductive all season, and there have not even been signs of improvement through five weeks.
You do the math: Anquan Boldin has caught 67% of the passes to #49ers WRS, has 78% of their WR yardage and has 100% of the WR touchdowns.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) October 7, 2013
Vernon Davis: A-
Blocking, receiving or being a decoy, Vernon Davis does it all for this San Francisco football team. He really does make it look effortless too—making tough catches or barreling through defenses for extra yards.
On Sunday, Davis had three grabs for 88 yards and his fourth TD of the season.
Vance McDonald: N/A
The 49ers rookie tight end was not targeted once during the blowout of the Houston Texans.
Frankly, it almost seemed like a waste of an opportunity to not force throws to him late. It's critical that he and Kap get into a rhythm so as to compensate for the lack of production from the wide receiver spot.
McDonald is a big, talented player in whom the Niners' front office made a second-round investment, and he is one of the team’s few healthy pass-catchers.
Joe Staley, LT: A-
Every time Kap is upright, it is because of this guy.
When the offensive line is communicating well, flowing and in sync, it is because of this guy.
Staley is one of the best left tackles in the league and arguably the best in the conference, simply because he is a mauler in the run game and tends to pitch shutouts against some of the league’s best pass-rushers.
He had a big test again versus this Houston front and came out on top.
Mike Iupati, LG: A
It is surprising that teams haven’t called the league office yet and complained about the 49ers having a snowplow at left guard. But hey, as long as they can get away with it, right?
Since being drafted, Mike Iupati has been hands down the best mauling guard in the National Football League, and he is a primary reason this team can win games just by running the rock. He is smart, athletic and powerful. He loves to hit and consistently wins the leverage game.
Jonathan Goodwin, C: B
Once again, Goodwin put forth a solid performance, keeping Colin Kaepernick upright versus Brian Cushing, J.J. Watt and Co. Cushing and Watt have been known to blow up the interior of many an NFL offensive line, but a headstrong Goodwin did not allow the Texans defense to take over this game.
Alex Boone, RG: B+
When the 49ers run game is going off—Gore averaged 4.8 yards per carry and Hunter averaged 5.8—this is one of the players who is usually leading the way. Boone had himself a night. He was able to pound the left side of Houston defensive front and keep Texan defenders from San Francisco's tailbacks. Dixon's touchdown came while running behind Boone and the right side of the Niners' OL.
Anthony Davis, RT: B-
Not a bad grade considering the competition. For a majority of the game, reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt was lined up across from him and hammered him backward on a few occasions. But you could say that Davis held his own by not allowing Watt to once sack his quarterback.
Justin Smith: A
The Cowboy continues to help fill the void in the defensive front with his dominating play at the line of scrimmage. The 49ers ability to stop the run and rush the passer all stems from his presence on the football field. Matt Schaub’s 4.9 Total QBR and what little production the Texans' got from their running game can be largely attributed to big No. 94.
Glenn Dorsey: B-
No splash plays to be had, but the 49ers have to be pleased with the way Glenn Dorsey has stepped in for starting nose tackle Ian Williams, who was lost for the season with a broken ankle. Dorsey only had one tackle in his third game as a starter, but he tied up offensive linemen, allowing 49er linebackers to run free.
And judging by the games Michael Wilhoite and NaVorro Bowman had, Dorsey did a pretty good job.
Ray McDonald: A
One of the top players on the 49ers defense that nobody talks about is Ray McDonald.
If he misses time next week versus the Arizona Cardinals because of an arm injury suffered against Houston, you can bet that people will notice. Against the Texans, he racked up three tackles, had a tackle for a loss, a QB hit and a sack on Matt Schaub. With Justin Smith, he is able to control the edges of the line of scrimmage and funnel things toward the linebackers.
He is one of the more effective defensive linemen in the league because of his ability to dictate the play, whether it is against the run or pass.
Ray McDonald injury is very concerning. +3.2 grade coming in, and top 10 in run stop % and Pass Rush Productivity Rating for 3-4 DE. #49ers—Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) October 7, 2013
Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs: B+
Jerod-Eddie and Dobbs rotated in at defensive end after Ray McDonald had to leave the game with the aforementioned arm injury.
These two really stepped in and played smart, fiery football and let their presence be known. Dobbs finished with two solo tackles despite limited snaps, while Jerod-Eddie made the highlight reel with this first-ever interception. He also had one tackle, one pass deflection and a QB hit.
Dan Skuta: B
The 49ers have been without Aldon Smith for two weeks now, and Dan Skuta has done a fine job replacing him. The longtime special teams ace has finally had a chance to contribute on defense, and he has not been a liability. He is too light to set the edge, but he can stop the run and play the pass fairly well.
It was another solid outing by the reserve, who racked up three tackles, including one for a loss.
Corey Lemonier: B
The 49ers have been getting solid pass-rush productivity from the rookie edge-rusher, a former defensive end at Auburn. Lemonier has yet to claim his first career sack, but his constant pressure has not gone unnoticed and has been particularly disruptive in third-down situations.
Corey Lemonier with the pressure on Schaub forcing the third-down incompletion. Impressive rookie so far. #49ers—Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) October 7, 2013
Ahmad Brooks: A
He is truly a complete outside linebacker for the 49ers—able to set the edge, rush the passer, stop the run and drop into coverage. His full gamut of tools were on display in prime time as he picked up the slack for a linebacking corps that was missing 50 percent of its starters.
Michael Wilhoite: A
What can be said about this young man?
This was an unheralded college linebacker with a never-say-die attitude that he used to pry his way on an NFL roster. Filling in for Patrick Willis on Sunday, Wilhoite went on to lead the team in tackles with 13 takedowns (three for loss) and one pass deflection.
Harbaugh impressed with Michale Wilhoite and Corey Lemonier's ability to be productive on defense and special teams.—Kevin Lynch (@klynch49) October 7, 2013
NaVorro Bowman: A
Of course, Bowman was right there behind Wilhoite, racking up 11 tackles on the night, which was second most on the defense. He killed the run, flashed in coverage—sticking to tight ends and running backs—while also providing pressure on Matt Schaub. This was another performance Bowman could be proud of.
Carlos Rogers: B
For one reason or another, Carlos Rogers spent a lot of time jawing with Texans running back Arian Foster. Every time he was seen on camera, he and Foster were getting into it. In hindsight, that is better than him being put up on the big screen for blowing a coverage.
Tarell Brown: A
Even though he isn’t recognized as such, Brown is the No. 1 cornerback on the San Francisco defense.
On Sunday, he manned up against a tough combo in Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins and held his own again. In a contract year, Brown has been lights out.
Tramaine Brock: Wow
Brock is our star of the game, so his grade is a bit different.
After losing Chris Culliver (ACL) and then Nnamdi Asomugha (knee), the 49ers seemed out of options at cornerback. But anyone who really knows this team understands the depth they have on defense, including the CB position.
Brock again proved that this front office knows defensive talent.
He came through with a breakout performance—arguably the best of his career—when the 49ers needed it most. He stole the show, and by the looks of it, the No. 3 cornerback job from Nnamdi Asomugha.
Tramaine Brock's night: +2.8 grade in just 37 snaps, allowed 2 rec for 32 yards, 2 INT, and a PD which was nullified due to OPI on Hopkins.—Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) October 7, 2013
Perrish Cox: B
With the rest of the defense playing so well, Perrish Cox sort of got lost in the mix, but he put forth a strong effort off the bench. He was disciplined in his assignments and did not allow too much ground versus this stout Texans receiving corps.
Eric Reid: A
The 49ers are getting excellent play from their safeties this season and a big part of it seems to be because of the insertion of Eric Reid. His physique, combined with his discipline and high IQ, has made him an asset from Week 1.
He was stout in run support and never out of place in coverage.
Reid had a would-be interception bounce off his chest on Sunday, which seemed to be his only blunder. However, it did go down as a pass breakup, so it's not all that bad when you consider that he was at the very least in the middle of the play.
Donte Whitner: A
Five weeks into the season, and it might be safe to say that Donte Whitner has had a rebirth on the back end. He came to the team as a free agent in 2011 and provided a tempo-setting hitter on the back end. He struggled at times in 2012, but this season, he has really grown as a coverage safety.
Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins did not have a chance to get behind him for a big play, largely because Whitner has been more fluid in coverage, more aware of his surroundings. It also helps that he is now working with Eric Reid, who may a better communicator than his predecessor at free safety, Dashon Goldson.
Andy Lee: A
Well, another week gone by and another immaculate grade for the 49ers All-Pro punter.
Andy Lee only had to punt four times on Sunday, but finished with average of 48.8 yards net and had one punt land inside the 20-yard line. He also had a long punt of 60 yards on the night.
Overall, Lee’s contributions on special teams helped the Niners yet again win the battle of field position.
Phil Dawson: A
On Sunday night, Dawson went 100 percent from the field, hitting 2-of-2 on field goals and going 4-for-4 on extra points. He contributed a total of 10 points to San Francisco’s 34-3 win over the Texans, finally getting back into his groove.