SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers turned a short week of negative energy into their first blowout victory of the season.
The Niners responded to a two-game losing streak and the loss of four key defensive players by dominating the St. Louis Rams 35-11 on Thursday night.
Coach Jim Harbaugh on Friday praised the way his 2-2 team responded against the Rams and to the criticism they faced during a tumultuous stretch that included lopsided losses against Seattle and Indianapolis — San Francisco's first back-to-back defeats since he took over as coach in 2011.
"You want that response," Harbaugh said. "I thought the team stared adversity in the face (with) a lot of grit and determination. The guys played with great energy and great toughness."
It was a much-needed bounce-back effort by the 49ers after they'd been outscored a combined 56-10 by the Seahawks and Colts. San Francisco also was playing for the first time this season without All-Pro linebackers Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith, who has left the team indefinitely to deal with personal issues after being arrested earlier this month.