SANTA CLARA -- Wide receiver Anquan Boldin came in motion from the right side, sidled up next to left tackle Joe Staley and joined the 49ers' blocking brigade at a most critical juncture.

Fullback Bruce Miller followed a path carved by Boldin and Staley to gain 3 yards on fourth-and-1, extending an 18-play touchdown drive that sealed the 49ers' 32-20 win Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals.

"I felt him kind of leap across, so I was pretty excited about that," Boldin said Monday of Miller's carry, his first of the season.

Coach Jim Harbaugh proudly reflected on that drive, too, and he gave special recognition to blocks by tight end Vernon Davis and right tackle Anthony Davis that sprung Kendall Hunter's 6-yard touchdown run. With Hunter coming behind Anthony Davis, Vernon Davis helped create an opening with a block on linebacker Karlos Dansby.

San Francisco 49ers running back Kendall Hunter(32) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Collin Kapernick (7) during the fourth quarter of their game
San Francisco 49ers running back Kendall Hunter(32) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Collin Kapernick (7) during the fourth quarter of their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, in San Francisco, Calif. The Niners beat the Cardinals 32-20. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

"The blocks by Vernon Davis and Anthony Davis were textbook, something to really be admired and highlighted," Harbaugh said.

The 49ers had been unable to produce touchdowns on three earlier trips into the red zone, and Hunter's scoring run snapped that skid. San Francisco has scored touchdowns on 10 of 20 red-zone possessions.

Also encouraging for the 49ers on that drive were three conversions on third-down attempts. They were just 1 of 8 on third-down efficiency before the 18-play drive, which was kept alive with third-down catches by Boldin and Kyle Williams, as well as a third-and-1 run by Frank Gore two snaps before Hunter's touchdown.

"It was big for us," Boldin added. "Our defense had been on the field for quite some time, and we felt they needed a break. We were able to put the game away."


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  • LaMichael James could be summoned off the bench to spark the 49ers' punt-return efforts, a role that's strictly belonged to Williams through six games. Harbaugh did not, however, express any discontent Monday with Williams, who's averaged 7.1 yards on eight returns and has 16 fair catches.

    "Those fair catches aren't all on Kyle," Harbaugh said in noting how the 49ers improperly blocked opponents' gunners. "He does a good job of knowing whether to fair catch or return."

    Williams' 16 fair catches already are the ninth-most in a season by the 49ers.

  • Boldin took a critical swipe at the NFL's new emphasis on player safety, saying, "I think the league is covering their butt to be honest with you."

    The 49ers wideout was taking part in an online chat with the Bay Area News Group and fans when he was asked if he had seen the PBS documentary "League of Denial," which details the NFL's history with concussion studies and protocol.

    Boldin said he hadn't seen it yet and gave the league credit for taking game-day diagnoses out of the hands of coaches and potentially concussed players. Then he added:

    "But there are some things that just don't make sense to me. I mean if you're so concerned about player safety then why do you have every team in the league playing on Thursday night when they just competed on a Sunday, knowing how difficult it is for guys to get back to being healthy after playing on Sunday?

    "The league can say they're doing things to protect guys, but I'm not one of the guys buying it."

  • Tuesday's walk-through practice should include wideout Mario Manningham, cornerback Eric Wright and rookie defensive linemen Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine. All are eligible to come off reserve/injured lists this week and are expected to do so, Harbaugh said. Once those four players begin practicing, the 49ers will have three weeks to evaluate whether to add them to the active roster.

    Wide receiver Michael Crabtree will remain on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list and isn't expected to start practicing until mid-to-late November. He can stay on PUP through Nov. 19 before beginning his 21-day practice period, as is the case with others on reserve/injured lists, a group that includes running back Marcus Lattimore and offensive tackle Luke Marquardt.

  • Harbaugh advised fans on proper protocol, stemming from the controversial "wave" that occurred in Candlestick's stands while the Cardinals' Calais Campbell was being evaluated for a spine injury and put on a stretcher. (Campbell left a Bay Area hospital Sunday night and flew back to Arizona, where reports have been positive on his recovery.)

    "If a cart is coming on to a field, that signifies a pretty serious injury," Harbaugh said. "The best thing to do is silence. Let doctors do their work, and a collective prayer would be much appreciated."

  • Harbaugh had no injury updates on nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (right hamstring), linebacker Patrick Willis (groin), guard Mike Iupati (right shoulder) or linebacker Michael Wilhoite (forearm, quadriceps).

  • Offensive lineman Al Netter returned to the practice squad after being released last week by the Tennessee Titans, who host the 49ers on Sunday. Netter, a Rohnert Park native, spent last season on the 49ers' practice squad.

    Sunday's game

    49ers (4-2) at Tennessee (3-3), 1:05 p.m. FOX