Upon Further Review: 49ers Week 12

LANDOVER, MD. -- A review of four hot issues from the San Francisco 49ers' 27-6 win at Washington on Monday night:

Kaepernick leads: The 49ers' offense was the key in this win, ending a two-game losing streak. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the offense had sagged the past two weeks. But he led a strong passing attack. Kaepernick completed 6 of 15 passes of 15 yards or longer against the Redskins. Last week in New Orleans, the 49ers' longest play was 17 yards. Niners coach Jim Harbaugh credited Kaepernick's leadership during the week. He said Kaepernick had a “perfect mix” of focus and looseness and it carried into the game.

Help on the way: The 49ers' passing game was finally more than Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. Mario Manningham, in his third game of the season, had four catches for 45 yards. He was targeted early in the game, and that enabled Boldin and Davis to break loose for three touchdowns. And more help is on the way. Top receiver Michael Crabtree, who tore his Achilles in May, will be activated Tuesday and Harbaugh said he anticipates he will play Sunday against St. Louis. He might not be 100 percent right away, but having a receiving group of Boldin, Davis, Manningham and Crabtree will only make Kaepernick better.

Aldon Smith is back: The star pass-rusher made a huge impact Monday night. Smith had two sacks and looked like his normal self for the first time since returning from substance abuse treatment. This was his third game back since missing five games. He had had one tackle the past two games. Last week, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Smith was still getting acclimated. Monday night, he looked comfortable and he was active. Having a dominant Smith will be huge for this defense down the stretch.

James sparks return game: Harbaugh raved about LaMichael James' performance Monday night. James, a second-round pick in 2012, looked good on returns the past two games after taking over for the since-released Kyle Williams. Monday night, James made a huge impact. He had a 40-yard punt return in the third quarter. It was the 49ers' longest punt return in nearly two seasons. Harbaugh said it was a nice reminder to everyone that the 49ers have a return game. James runs with a purpose and with more aggression than Williams ever did.