Two key 49ers went to the sideline with injuries Sunday night, but their fates were quite different.

Halfback Frank Gore hurt his ankle trying unsuccessfully to score from the Houston 2 midway the second quarter, and limped to the sideline. Gore sat out the rest of that quarter, and it was Kendall Hunter who got the carries on the 49ers' first drive of the second half. But Gore returned after that, and looked strong.

"He walked it off," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He looked like he got rolled on, on the goal line."

Ray McDonald's injury could be more serious. The defensive end hurt his biceps sacking Matt Schaub in the third quarter, and did not return. McDonald is scheduled to get an MRI today, but admitted he was concerned about the injury.

"It just felt weird," he said. "Anytime you get an injury — I didn't want to take any chances and go back out there and mess it up anymore."

McDonald said the arm "stung a little bit" when he separated from an offensive lineman to get the sack.

<b>RUN, BIG MAN, RUN</b>

San Francisco's third and final interception was a sight to behold, with 301-pound defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie dropping back into short coverage and snagging a pass intended for tight end Garrett Graham at the end of the third quarter. Jerod-Eddie, who was filling in for McDonald, even managed to run for 6 yards.

"I had a rush-drop read off of whatever block the offensive line gave," he explained. "It gave me a drop read, I dropped and the ball was right there."

Jerod-Eddie said his most recent interception before Sunday came during his senior year at DeSoto High School in Texas. Asked whether he broke some big yardage on that one, he answered: "It was about the same, actually. I got about 5 yards and got tackled by the running back."


On a night without many highlights for the visitors, defensive end and reigning NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt was ferocious. Working primarily against right tackle Anthony Davis, Watt had three tackles for loss<NO1>, and rushed Colin Kaepernick into a couple of early throws<NO>.

"He's a great player," 49ers guard Alex Boone said. " .<TH>.<TH>. He made some plays, and we expected that."


= ILB Patrick Willis did not play for the second consecutive week. Harbaugh said the team decided just before the game to hold out Willis, who has a strained groin.

= Kaepernick's 64-yard completion to Vernon Davis was the longest of his young NFL career.

= QB Colt McCoy saw his first action as a 49er, playing the final possession in mop-up duty.<NO1> McCoy did not throw a pass.

= Late Sunday, multiple news organizations reported that free-agent quarterback Josh Freeman ad reached an agreement to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. His ties to Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson, and the Raiders' struggles at quarterback, had some believing Freeman could be headed to the Bay Area.