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3 things we learned about the 49ers

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ST. LOUIS — For reasons relating mostly to a potential move to Los Angeles, the St. Louis Rams have been newsworthy all year.

But if they are on their way out of town, the Rams are getting in position to give their remaining fans a nice farewell present.

With a 27-6 defeat of the short-handed San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis finds itself with a 4-3 record, the first time it’s been over .500 this late in a season since Oct. 29, 2006.

“We still have nine games left and anything can happen,” defensive end Robert Quinn said about playoff talk. “But this is nice to hear. You can’t look too far into the future.”

The Rams’ present and immediate past has looked pretty nice the last couple of weeks, albeit against outmatched foes. But in beating Cleveland and San Francisco by a combined 51-12, St. Louis strung together consecutive wins for the first time this year and shown the kind of positive consistency it’s often lacked for the last decade.

Big plays lifted an offense that struggled at times against an NFC West rival. Running back Todd Gurley’s 71-yard touchdown run with 10:25 left in the second quarter gave the Rams the lead for good at 10-3.

A 49-yard pass from quarterback Nick Foles to tight end Jared Cook in the last minute of the first half led to a 2-yard scoring jaunt by wide receiver Tavon Austin with 18 seconds remaining for a 20-6 halftime lead.

And St. Louis’ lone pass play in its last 18 snaps — a screen to Austin — became a 66-yard touchdown with 8:34 left in the game to essentially wrap up its competitive phase.

“You get those guys in open space, anything can happen,” said Foles of Gurley and Austin.

What we learned about the 49ers:

1. Colin Kaepernick isn’t playing well, but what quarterback could make things work with this team at the moment? Kaepernick has no receivers who can consistently gain separation and an offensive line that doesn’t offer much protection. Sunday’s numbers were again ugly, as Kaepernick finished 20 of 41 for 162 yards with no play longer than 33 yards.

2. The offseason purge deprived the team of depth, and injuries are making the roster increasingly thread-bare. San Francisco was down to one running back — Kendall Gaskins — by game’s end after starter Mike Davis and Reggie Bush were knocked out due to injury. And Gaskins was just promoted from the practice squad Saturday. Management may have won the power struggle with former coach Jim Harbaugh, but it is the team and fans that are presently paying for that victory.

3. Is Jim Tomsula long for the head coaching job here? While one can’t blame the 2-6 record entirely on him, everything comes back to him, as he said after the game. This marked the team’s fifth loss by at least 14 points, which doesn’t say much for the talent level on this squad or its willingness to fight when things get tough. Tomsula could be a one-year coach unless things suddenly improve in the season’s second half.

Etc.

–RB Reggie Bush reportedly tore an anterior cruciate ligament on a punt return with 5:32 left in the first quarter and is lost for the year. Bush slipped on a section of concrete behind the visitors bench and skidded into the wall after being forced out of bounds on a punt return.

–RB Carlos Hyde (foot) was deactivated after leading the team in rushing through the first seven games. It is not known if Hyde, who has accounted for 470 yards on 115 carries, will be able to play next week against Atlanta.

–WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring) was deactivated, ending a string of 46 consecutive starts for the veteran. Boldin, who has 31 catches for 372 yards, drew an unsportsmanlike conduct foul in the first quarter for coming off the sideline to push a St. Louis player after RB Reggie Bush got hurt.


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