Bill Kostroun Associated Press San Francisco's Alex Smith throws as Kendall Hunter (32) blocks the Jets' Yeremiah Bell in the second half. The 49ers redeemed themselves after losing to Minnesota.

49ers rebound with shutout victory

Published: Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 - 7:53 am

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – That's more like it.

That was the refrain in the 49ers' locker room Sunday after the team bounced back from a languid loss in Minnesota last week with a reaffirming and stifling 34-0 win over the Jets.

As it turns out, the team from the Bay Area needed to spend a week in Youngstown, Ohio, to feel more like itself.

The 49ers rediscovered their strengths by forcing four turnovers, sacking New York quarterback Mark Sanchez three times and holding New York to 45 rushing yards.

It was San Francisco's first shutout on the road since a 38-0 win in the regular-season finale in New Orleans in 2001.

"Maybe we need to go back to Youngstown and then (come) back and play Buffalo," joked cornerback Carlos Rogers, who had a 51-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Rogers and others cited a weak energy level in their surprise loss to the Vikings, who finished 3-13 last season.

There was no power outage in the Meadowlands.

The locker room was alive and abuzz before and after the game, and the defense, a half-step behind Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder last week, smothered Sanchez on Sunday.

Sanchez struggles when he doesn't have clean pockets and clear throwing lanes. The 49ers' defenders seemed to be grabbing at his ankles and swiping at his shoulder pads throughout the afternoon.

He completed only 13 of 29 attempts for 103 yards and finished with a 39.9 passer rating.

What's more, he had to endure chants of "Tebow, Tebow" from the home crowd, not that backup Tim Tebow was any more effective. He connected on his only pass – for nine yards – and rushed twice for zero yards.

The 49ers' suffocating run defense also returned in force, holding Jets running back Shonn Greene to 34 yards on 11 carries.

By comparison, 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran for 30 yards on one play at the end of the game – he slid on the Jets' 3-yard line instead of scoring – while wide receiver Mario Manningham had a 28-yard run on an end around in the first quarter.

The 49ers rushed for 245 yards.

"There was a lot of fight," Jim Harbaugh said of his players. "They brought a lot of energy to this game. It was really important to them."

After losing the turnover battle 3-2 against the Vikings, the 49ers forced four – and blocked a punt – against the Jets without giving up the ball.

Leading the way were safety Dashon Goldson, who had a big hit on a Jets tight end that jarred the ball loose, and Aldon Smith, who had two sacks, including one that forced a Sanchez fumble that was recovered by Justin Smith.

"After the last game, some people questioned us," said Aldon Smith, who has 41/2 sacks this season. "We know what we are capable of. We're a good defense that plays well together."

Last year, the 49ers returned from a stay in Youngstown with a 3-1 record and went on a six-game winning streak. After the win in New York, their record again is 3-1, and they play five of their next six games at Candlestick Park.

Rogers and quarterback Alex Smith said the loss in Minnesota left a bad taste in their mouths and that sour taste, in turn, got the team back on track.

Said Rogers: "After that performance that we had last week, each and every player took it upon themselves to make sure that didn't happen again."

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