ST. LOUIS -- 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was an inviting target on and off the field Thursday night.
"Why does everybody want to talk to me?" Davis asked reporters as he flashed a wide grin. "I only caught two (passes) for 18 (yards)."
Indeed, Davis did catch only two balls in the 49ers' 35-11 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night. But it was more what the catches meant to a team that was unexpectedly 1-2 coming into this rival game.
"We had to win this game. We HAD to," Davis said. "We came out and played the kind of game we had to play. Smash-mouth running and play-action passes. That's us. That's what we are about."
The 49ers gave every indication that Davis' assessment was correct. Led by Frank Gore with 153 yards, the 49ers rolled up 219 yards rushing and totally dominated the game in every way.
Despite the fact that quarterback Colin Kaepernick passed for barely more yards (167) than Gore rushed for, his receivers came up with big plays when the game was tight. That was in stark contrast to what we saw the previous two weeks.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin looked more like the dynamic playmaker he showed against the Green Bay Packers in the season opener after being virtually absent in Weeks 2 and 3. He caught five passes for 90 yards with a long of 42. He caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to give the 49ers their first lead, 7-3.
"We had a good matchup with him" on the touchdown pass, Kaepernick said. "He makes a lot of great plays for us. Any chance we can give him the opportunity to make a play, we're going to."
Boldin was happy to talk about the team's accomplishment. "The game plan was for us to come in and execute," he told reporters. "We came out aggressive. We played physical and we executed well for the most part."
Boldin gave Davis credit for an offense that looked much improved. Davis, who had a 12-yard TD catch Thursday, missed the Indianapolis Colts game because of a hamstring injury.
"Getting Vernon Davis back helped," Boldin said. "When he's not on the field with me a lot of teams are able to double team me. Having him back opened things up for me."
Both Boldin and Davis beat man-to-man coverage for their touchdown passes.
"When I saw the safety lined up on me, I licked my lips," Davis said. "Kap saw it too and he put the ball right there."
Boldin was particularly praiseworthy of Kaepernick.
"He did a great job. He was focused. He came in ready to play," Boldin said. "We all wanted to get that bad taste our of our mouths. We had lot two game straight. It's not fun losing. We were excited to have a short week. The best antidote for losing is to come back and win."
"We had to turn around after that last loss," he said. "It's hard to loose. It makes the place dark and gloomy. Kap was really locked in and focused all week, not just tonight. He was seeing the field and delivering the ball. It was great to see."
Kaepernick spread his completions around to nine receivers and the 49ers got some unexpected production. Rookie Quinton Patton caught one pass before leaving the game with an injured right foot on the final play of the first quarter. Former Kansas City receiver Jon Baldwin suited up for the first time and had two catches for 19 yards. His first reception resulted in a 14-yard, third-down conversion.
"It was good to see him get out there," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I have a good feeling about him."