SAN FRANCISCO -- On a night when the San Francisco 49ers needed it, the running game turned in a dominating performance in a 34-3 win against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The 49ers could not get into rhythm passing. Colin Kaepernick, at one point in the fourth quarter, had not completed a pass since the first drive of the game. But he said he didn't notice.
"No, I was aware that we were up and that we needed to run the ball and keep our offense on the field," Kaepernick said.
That's what the 49ers did, rushing 36 times for 177 yards in a game in which Kaepernick threw just 15 times.
San Francisco leaned on its running game and a defense that forced four turnovers, including an interception returned for a touchdown by Tramaine Brock on the Texans' first series.
"It just shows that if everyone gives 100 percent effort that it takes every Sunday, there's no telling who's going to get the game ball at the end of the game," linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. "We have that much talent on this team, that many weapons, and we're that good. We just have to go out there and play like it every Sunday."
Since losing two straight games, the 49ers have won the last two, having rushed for 396 yards in those wins.
"The one thing I think we can pride ourselves in is our run game. We have the best running back in the NFL and a physical offensive line," guard Alex Boone said.
The running game was led mostly by veteran Frank Gore, who rushed 17 times for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Gore gave most of the credit to the offensive line, a unit he called the best in the league, which opened up holes for him all game.
"Once I get going, it's hard to stop me," Gore said.
Besides Gore, backup running back Kendall Hunter ran five times for 29 yards and LaMichael James carried four times for 31 yards.
When Gore left in the second quarter briefly because of an ankle injury, Anthony Dixon handled a carry and scored from 2 yards out.
"Oh man, it was an excellent week," said 49ers fullback Bruce Miller. "Between Frank and Kendall and A.D. and LaMichael, we have so much firepower back there. They make me look good, so it's fun blocking for them."
Gore returned to the game in the second half. He and the rest of the 49ers faced a Houston front seven that featured reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
"Give credit to the guys up front, to (offensive coordinator) Greg Roman, to (offensive line coach) Mike Solari, the backs, Frank again," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Bruce Miller I thought had an outstanding night. Vernon (Davis) blocked extremely well."
The Texans, who have Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster and Ben Tate, totaled 131 yards on the ground and were out-rushed by the 49ers.
That was the goal for Gore.
"We said we're not going to let them outperform us tonight."