Harbaugh: A lot of good things to point to from this one
Frank Gore rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries Sunday night. (AP)
SAN FRANCISCO – Matt Schaub did not allow any drama to build on Sunday night at Candlestick Park.
Just three snaps into the game, Schaub kept alive his ignominious streak of providing the opposition with an interception returned for a touchdown.
Tramaine Brock, making his second straight appearance as the No. 3 cornerback in place of injured Nnamdi Asomugha, intercepted Schaub and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown just 90 seconds into the game.
The 49ers used the early pick-six en route to a 34-3 victory over the reeling Texans in a nationally televised game.
Brock was lined up wide to the left against Keshawn Martin, but he peeled off Martin and cut in front of slot receiver Andre Johnson to make the interception. Schaub has thrown an interception returned for a touchdown in four consecutive games.
In the second quarter, Brock again intercepted Schaub while in coverage against Johnson. He returned his second interception 13 yards to set up the 49ers’ third touchdown of the game.
Brock opened the 2011 season as the No. 3 cornerback and had interceptions in his first two games before sustaining a hand injury that forced him out of action. Chris Culliver took over for Brock and never relinquished the job.
Coincidentally, Brock is getting his chance due to injuries to Culliver and Asomugha. Culliver is out for the season with a torn ACL, while Asomugha has been sidelined since the late stages of the 49ers’ Sept. 22 game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Brock seemed to supply as much offense than the 49ers who get paid to move the football.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 6 of 15 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. The biggest play from the offense came early in the fourth quarter when Kaepernick exploited the coverage of safety Ed Reed to find tight end Vernon Davis for a 64-yard touchdown.
And although the Texans were never really in the game, their offense outgained the 49ers 308 to 286 in total yards.
The 49ers extended their lead to 24-3 in the third quarter on Phil Dawson’s 38-yard field goal to cap an eight-play, 39-yard scoring drive. He later added a 24-yarder after Donte Whitner forced a fumble that Tarell Brown recovered and returned deep into Texans territory.
While the 49ers’ offense was not exactly stellar, it avoided the kind of mistakes that have regularly plagued Schaub. The embattled Texans quarterback completed 19 of 35 pass attempts for 173 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. His quarterback rating was 32.2. Defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie ended a Houston scoring threat with an interception late in the third quarter, which spelled the end of Schaub’s night. Backup T.J. Yates replaced Schaub in the fourth quarter.
Third-down thrills: The first time the 49ers’ offense touched the ball, half of the first quarter had expired and the 49ers led 7-0. Kaepernick kept the drive alive with three third-down completions.
Kaepernick hit Davis for 13 yards on a 3rd and 10; he found Davis again for 11 yards on 3rd and 5; and he hooked up with Anquan Boldin for 9 yards on a 3rd and 9. Running back Frank Gore gave the 49ers a 14-0 lead with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Gore’s night: Gore left the game late in the first half with an apparent left leg injury. He was stopped for no gain at the goal line and hobbled off. Anthony Dixon replaced him and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.
Gore sat out the final series of the first half after gaining 45 yards on nine rushing attempts. Kendall Hunter also replaced him for the first series of the second half. Gore was able to return to action. He finished with 81 yards on 17 carries.
Injury concern: Defensive end Ray McDonald may have recorded a costly sack in the third quarter. After throwing Schaub for a 6-yard loss, McDonald sustained a potentially serious right biceps injury. The 49ers immediately announced him as “out” for the remainder of the game.
If McDonald is out for a lengthy period of time, the 49ers could make a serious bid to sign veteran Richard Seymour, who played the past four seasons with the Raiders. The 49ers are just $935,000 under the salary cap.
Depth chart: Wide receiver Jon Baldwin drew his first starting assignment since coming to the 49ers from the Kansas Cith Chiefs in an August trade for A.J. Jenkins. Not only was Baldwin on the field for the 49ers’ first offensive snap, but Kaepernick tried to force a pass to him against tight coverage from cornerback Kareem Jackson. The pass was incomplete.
Inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite started his second straight game in place of Patrick Willis, who sat out with a groin strain. Willis worked out for about 20 minutes prior to the game before the 49ers’ staff decided he needs another week to recover from an injury he sustained Sept. 22 against the Indianapolis Colts.