5 things to know as Niners top Schaub, Texans 34-3

By JANIE McCAULEY - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-07 03:04

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Quarterback Matt Schaub knows the Houston Texans have hit rock bottom. So does Gary Kubiak - and the coach went ahead and said it.

Schaub still has his starting job, for now anyway, after a three-interception night and his fourth straight game with a pick six as the Texans took a 34-3 beating from the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday for a third straight defeat.

``We need to get better and get better fast,'' Schaub said. ``And that's myself included, most importantly. We've worked too hard, and I've worked too hard since I've walked in this building, for it to come to this right now.''

Houston has lost three in a row for the first time since the end of the 2011 season, and even the NFL's top-ranked defense struggled to make the game-breaking plays against San Francisco.

Schaub's teammates are remaining supportive when so many others around the city have turned - calling for Houston to cut the quarterback and go with backup T.J. Yates and even burning Schaub's jersey.

``Matt is a big-time veteran on this team,'' center Chris Myers said. ``He knows what he has to do to be able to win games. We are all behind him, we are all working through this little hole that we are in. He's going to be all right.''

Here are five things to take from the 49ers' commanding victory and second straight win since a two-game skid:

BROCK'S BIG NIGHT: In the first half alone Sunday night, cornerback Tramaine Brock matched his interceptions total from his first three NFL seasons combined.

The 25-year-old Brock is making good on his opportunities playing in place the injured Nnamdi Asomugha, who missed his second straight game while nursing a knee injury.

Brock intercepted Schaub's first pass attempt and returned it 18 yards for his first career pick six. He made his second interception midway through the second quarter and nearly had another but was called for defensive pass interference.

``I wanted it,'' Brock said.

``That was a great way to start the game. That was a big shot in the arm,'' coach Jim Harbaugh said. ``It was great to get them, and they came in bunches.''

This performance came after Brock had a pair of important tipped passes in a 35-11 road rout of the Rams on Sept. 26, including one that led to Donte Whitner's interception in the end zone.

Brock had 16 tackles and a forced fumble last season for the NFC champions, and also shared the team lead with 15 tackles on special teams.

In 2011, he made two interceptions in 11 games.

A CLEAN GAME: After coming into the game with 39 penalties for 339 lost yards, the 49ers played their cleanest, smartest game yet.

San Francisco committed just three penalties for 17 yards.

And the Niners capitalized on three interceptions - and nearly had two more.

Harbaugh was thrilled with the progress given all of the costly mistakes by the defense in losses to the Seahawks and Colts in Weeks 2 and 3.

``There were a lot of good things to point to. Penalties were low,'' Harbaugh said. ``It was a well-executed game plan in every phase.''

TEXANS DEFENSE: So much for the NFL's top-ranked defense having much of a say in this game. Houston wasn't able to keep the 49ers out of the end zone early and dug itself a big hole, trailing 21-0 at halftime.

It was San Francisco's third-ranked pass defense that harassed Schaub at every chance, while the No. 1 Texans passing defense held Colin Kaepernick to a long stretch of incompletions but didn't produce any game-breaking plays.

``We're the 49ers. When we're on, we can do whatever we want to do,'' running back Frank Gore said. ``That's probably the best front we've gone through all season, and up front our O-line did the job. If it's smash-mouth football, we'll do it.''

GORE GAINING GROUND: Anybody remember Gore's slow start now? The 30-year-old keeps running away from all that chatter and criticism, churning out yards in big chunks for the third straight game.

He had a pair of 26-yard gains Sunday on the way to 81 yards rushing on 17 carries to follow up his 153-yard performance in a win at St. Louis on Sept. 26.

``Once I get going, it's hard to stop me,'' Gore said. ``My O-line knows that, and they did the job for me and did what they had to do.''

BALDWIN STARTS: As San Francisco continues to search for a No. 2 receiver to complement Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis, Jon Baldwin earned his first start.

Acquired in August from the Chiefs for fellow disappointing former first-round pick A.J. Jenkins, the 49ers used patience in allowing Baldwin to get up to speed and learn the thick playbook.

Now, he's starting.

He had two catches against St. Louis.

Baldwin hauled in a deep pass Sunday with a diving, leaping grab but was ruled out of bounds.

``It feels good to be able to get out there and the coaches all believe in me to go out there and be able to run any plays,'' Baldwin said. ``I'm feeling pretty comfortable and the coaches believe in me.''


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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