With the game being 30 seconds away from ending in another tie, Greg Zuerlein came in and made sure that would not happen.
After making a 53 yard field goal to tie the game at the end of regulation, Zuerlein made a 54 yard field goal just staying to the right side of the left field goal post to win it in overtime for the Rams 16-13 in St. Louis. 49ers kicker David Akers had a chance to win it for San Francisco with a 51 yard field goal attempt in. The attempt, however, sailed wide right and left Rams with good field position that help set up Zuerlein’s game winner. This road loss for the 49ers (8-3-1) hands them their first divisional loss while the Rams (5-6-1) are still undefeated in the NFC West.
“This was a tough one,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the loss. “We’re gonna have to bounce back very quickly. It was a football fight and we did not win it.”
It also marks the first time that two teams played into OT twice in one season since 2004 where the 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals played twice into overtime. The 49ers won both of those games.
Greg Zuerlein was the hero in the end but the road there was marred with 49ers mistakes that cost them the game. With San Francisco up 7-0 in the 3rd quarter, Colin Kaepernick was chased into his own end zone by Rams’ defenders as he threw it out bounds. After failing to throw it outside of the pocket and with the ball not appearing to have reached the line of scrimmage, it was called intentional grounding and ruled a safety that gave St. Louis their first points of the day.
Then late in the fourth quarter after a FG by David Akers put San Francisco up by 8, an apparent option play designed with a pitch to Ted Ginn sailed over Ginn’s head. While Ginn was trying to recover the ball standing up, Rams CB Janoris Jenkins dove for it while tripping Ted Ginn, recovered the ball, and then managed to roll up into the end zone for a St. Louis TD as he recovered it at the SF 2.
“…Just pitched it high,” Colin Kaepernick said about the erroneous pitch to Ted Ginn. “It’s my fault all the way. I was trying to make a play, should’ve played it safe.”
“That’s on us,” Harbaugh said of the pitch play. “It was the wrong play to call at that time. I would love to have that one back but don’t blame the players on that one. That was too risky of a play at that time.”
The play would be reviewed to see if he was downed by Ginn and the play was confirmed. Sam Bradford then came in and converted a two point conversion with a pass to Lance Kendricks to tie the game.
The 49ers would get another FG from David Akers thanks largely to a 50 yard run by Colin Kaepernick but the Rams would be able to tie it with a 53 yard FG by Zuerlein to force OT. In OT after each side had the ball at least one time, David Akers had a shot to win the game for the 49ers as he missed a 51 yard FG attempt wide right. That left the ball at the STL 41 for the Rams to start a drive with 4:11 left in OT. After a few big runs by Stephen Jackson and a slant reception for 6 yards by Rams WR Chris Givens to keep the drive alive, Greg Zuerlein came in with 30 seconds left in OT and made the game winner.
This marks Colin Kaepernick’s first loss as a starting QB in the NFL, this after winning his first two starts against Chicago and then New Orleans. Kaepernick went 21/32with 208 passing yards along with 9 carries for 84 rushing yards, but the start will be remembered for an intentional grounding call in the end zone and a bad pitch play.
“I’ve played better,” Kaepernick said afterwards of his performance. “There were plays out there that I should’ve made, there were plays that happened that I shouldn’t have let happened.”
The 49ers defense didn’t do badly at all against the Rams. They held Stephen Jackson (48 rushing yards) and the St. Louis ground game to just 85 rushing yards and they didn’t allow a TD. They only allowed 6 points all day off the 2 FG’s by Zuerlein.
The San Francisco ground game wasn’t pretty to look at either. Despite 148 yards on the ground for the 49ers, Frank Gore was responsible for just 58 yards of that with 23 carries. Gore also scored the only offensive TD of the day for either team getting a 1 yard TD run late in the 1st quarter to put the first points on the scoreboard.
There were some questionable calls from the officials in this game. On the intentional grounding call that led to a safety, the ball might’ve crossed the line of scrimmage before it hit the ground. The ball was out of bounds at the time making it hard to determine where the it landed. It being a scoring a play prevented Harbaugh from challenging it and simultaneously a penalty prevented further review.
Errors or not, the 49ers made too many on offense and cost themselves a big game down the stretch. There are four games left in the season and with the Seattle Seahawks hanging around, nothing is for certain.
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Written by Daniel Trucios