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49ers cruise past Titans for fourth win in row

The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Colin Kaepernick was asked Sunday after another victory if he feels the San Francisco 49ers are in midseason form.

"I'm not sure what you mean by that," the quarterback said, "but I know we're stringing some wins together."

Four, to be precise, and in a fashion that displayed why many pundits picked San Francisco to return to the Super Bowl this season.

With Kaepernick playing efficiently and the defense punishing the Tennessee Titans for the first three quarters, the 49ers rolled to a 31-17 win at LP Field.

Kaepernick completed 13 of 21 passes for 199 yards and added 68 yards on 11 rushes, including a 20-yard touchdown run off a read-option play with 6:42 left in the half that gave San Francisco (5-2) a 10-0 advantage.

Kaepernick's many skills were on display during that 80-yard drive. He hit passes of 25 yards to Vernon Davis and 11 yards to Anquan Boldin, then made a pretty fake to Frank Gore on the scoring play before racing down the left side, using Gore's downfield block to make his way to the end zone.

The 49ers are not using read option as often as they did when Kaepernick took over last year, but coach Jim Harbaugh said the Titans' defense gave fewer opportunities.

"It's a club in the bag," Harbaugh said, using a golf analogy.

Every club in San Francisco's bag is hitting it straight since a 27-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 22 dropped the 49ers to 1-2. San Francisco outscored its next four opponents 132-51, with no game closer than 12 points.

"We were treating this one like Game 7 of the World Series," Harbaugh said. "This was our biggest game of the season because it was our next game. The next game, we'll treat it the same."

While the 49ers remain a game behind the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West standings, Tennessee (3-4) heads into its bye week with a three-game losing streak. Not even the return of Jake Locker could help.

Locker injured his knee and hip during a Sept. 30 win over the New York Jets, and he missed two games. He returned to practice this week and did enough to convince the coaches he should regain the starting job over veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.

However, Locker couldn't provide enough of a spark for an offense that managed just two touchdowns in his absence. He completed 25 of 41 passes for 326 yards and threw his first interception of the year, setting up the first of Gore's two 1-yard scoring runs. The touchdown with 2:07 left in the first half gave San Francisco a 17-0 lead.

"I felt pretty comfortable," Locker said. "I thought we just kept stopping ourselves with penalties and other mistakes."

The Titans managed just eight first downs and 206 yards through three quarters before making the final margin look more respectable in the fourth quarter.

Rob Bironas kicked a 31-yard field goal with 12:23 left, and Chris Johnson took Locker's screen pass 66 yards for a score that made it 24-10 with 7:07 remaining.

Any thoughts of a major rally ended when Tennessee's Darius Reynaud muffed a punt at the Tennessee 11. San Francisco's Kassim Osgood recovered the bouncing ball in the end zone with 6:16 left to make it 31-10.

"That play was like a dream," Harbaugh said.

NOTES: Bironas played in his 135th consecutive game, tying him with Elvin Bethea and Keith Bulluck for fourth place in franchise history. Only OL Bruce Matthews (232), LB Robert Brazile (147) and P Craig Hentrich (146) played more games for the Oilers/Titans. ... The game also marked a reunion of sorts for TE Delanie Walker, who played his first seven NFL seasons with San Francisco before signing with Tennessee as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Walker caught a 26-yard touchdown pass with 3:17 left in the game. ... The 49ers left from Nashville after the game for London, where they will play the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday. ... Following the bye week, the Titans play the Rams in St. Louis on Nov. 3.
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