Three and Out: Kap responds; Aldon Smith finding rhythm
LANDOVER, Md. – The 49ers’ offense might not be cured. But they certainly found an antidote in the third quarter to pull away for a 27-6 victory over Washington on Monday night.
“It was a good step in the right direction,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said.
Coming off two of the worst games of his brief NFL career, Kaepernick responded with his best single-game passer rating of 134.5. He completed 15 of 24 passes for 235 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Kaepernick did it by improving greatly in some areas that have been lacking.
Kaepernick gave wide receiver Anquan Boldin more chances to make plays against tight coverage, and he responded with five receptions in six passes thrown his way for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
And Kaepernick also appeared to move through his progression with more ease. He bought time and extended a third-quarter play long enough to find Boldin open along the back line of the end zone. Later in the third quarter, Kaepernick hit tight end Vernon Davis on a 1-yard touchdown pass to blow open the game.
Kaepernick probably received more criticism for his play during the past two weeks than at any time since he started playing the sport. Harbaugh said Kaepernick’s toughness was particular evident last week.
“Some people have baby deer skin,” Harbaugh said. “And some people have armadillo skin. He’s got armadillo skin. It’s just strong, good leadership.”
When asked if Kaepernick answered his critics, Boldin said he was unaware of what questions were being posed about the 49ers’ quarterback in the first place.
“You’ve got to ask the people who were questioning him,” Boldin said. “I mean, for us, we didn’t lose confidence in ourselves. We know what we’re capable of doing.
“He (Kaepernick) was himself. I think he’s that way every week. He comes out. He prepares the right way. He has great practices. He’s into meetings or giving his opinions, so I see that from him every week.”
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Wide receiver Mario Manningham, in his third game since returning from a knee injury that ended his season a year ago, caught four passes for 45 yards. He appears to be rounding into shape.
More help is on the way for the 49ers' offense with matchups looming against St. Louis and Seattle, teams that feature much-stronger defenses than 28th-ranked Washington.
And on Tuesday the 49ers will activate wide receiver Michael Crabtree from the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list. He will be eligible to play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, and Harbaugh suggested Crabtree will make his return from surgery to repair a torn Achilles.
“I anticipate he’ll come back this week,” Harbaugh said.
Crabtree caught 85 passes for 1,105 yards last season as Kaepernick’s preferred target.
“He's a great player," Kaepernick said. "He can make a lot of plays. I think everybody knows that.
"I wouldn’t say he’s a security blanket, but he’s a playmaker for us."