49ers miscues lead to overtime loss to Rams


49ers miscues lead to overtime loss to Rams

ST. LOUIS -- Coach Jim Harbaugh does not figure to make any change at the quarterback position after Colin Kaepernick's first loss as an NFL starter.Kaepernick made two crucial mistakes that directly resulted in 10 points for the St. Louis Rams in the 49ers' 16-13 overtime loss at the Edward Jones Done. But he did not have a whole lot of help, either.Most notably, the 49ers' coaches did not provide much help for Kaepernick on Sunday.Coach Jeff Fisher and his Rams staff won the chess match against the 49ers on Sunday. And the 49ers saw their lead in the NFC West shrink to 1 12 games with Seattle's victory over the Chicago Bears.

The 49ers fall to 8-3-1 after failing to win either of their two games against St. Louis this season. On Nov. 11, the 49ers and Rams played to a 24-24 tie at Candlestick Park. On Sunday, the deciding points were scored with just 26 seconds remaining in the extra session.The Rams improve to 5-6-1.Kaepernick took over as the starter last week when Harbaugh made the announcement on Wednesday that he would go with the second-year player over Alex Smith, who was 19-5-1 as a regular-season starter since the beginning of 2011.
"Right now, I feel it will be the same as it was this week," Harbaugh said. "I am proud of Kap. I am proud of the way he played. I thought he did some really good things under heat and duress, and I think he handled himself well. He gave our team a chance to win."But Kaepernick also made a couple of critical mistakes that enabled the Rams to hang around and pull even late in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers were protecting an eight-point lead with three minutes to play when faced with a third-and-3 situation from the St. Louis 17-yard line.Kaepernick had a disastrous turnover, as his left-handed pitch on a zone-read option flipped over receiver Ted Ginn's head. Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins recovered the fumble at the 2-yard line and took it in for the touchdown. The Rams added the two-point conversion to tie the game.

There was plenty blame to go around for the meltdown, beginning with the play call that came from offensive coordinator Greg Roman in the 49ers' coaching booth. Harbaugh admitted it was too risky in that situation."That was on us," Harbaugh said. "That was the wrong play to call at the that time. I would love to have that one back. Don't blame the players on that one. That was too risky of a play to call at that time."When we called it, we really thought it was a safe play but then we got edge pressure and Colin pulled and was forced to pitch right away and it threw the rhythm and timing off."Kaepernick, who ran the pistol offense at Nevada and executed a lot of option pitches in his college career, pointed the finger at himself for the game-changing turnover."It was my fault all the way," Kaepernick said. "(I) should've played it safe, should've just kept it and clock run and punt and let defense play. It was just a bad pitch."The Rams scored their first two points in the third quarter when -- again, on a play that originated from the 17-yard line -- Kaepernick was called for a controversial intentional grounding.The 49ers' defense allowed only three points in regulation, and those points came with no time remaining on Greg Zuerlein's 53-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.Again, the Rams got a boost from 49ers misplays to get into that position.

After the Rams tied the game on Jenkins' fumble recovery, Kaepernick put the 49ers in position to win with a 50-yard run. But several plays later, tight end Delanie Walker dropped a 14-yard pass in the end zone."It touched the tip of my fingertips," Walker said. "I misjudged it. I probably should've taken a different angle to it. It barely hit my finger tips. It was a perfect throw."Then, on a third-and-21, Kaepernick gained 10 yards but ran out of bounds to stop the clock. Had he remained inbounds, it would've forced the Rams to use their final timeout or 40 seconds would've run off the clock.Instead, the Rams used their final timeout to set up Zuerlein's tying field goal. And the Rams got into position with the help of safety Dashon Goldson's unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting a sliding Sam Bradford at the end of an 11-yard run.Once the teams' reached the familiar territory of overtime, kicker David Akers missed a 51-yard field goal wide right to open the door for Zeurlein to make his kick from 54 yards with just :26 remaining in the extra period. Akers and Zeurlein both missed overtime field-goal attempts in the tie game of three weeks ago.

Nobody with the 49ers was pinning this loss on Kaepernick . . . except, maybe, Kaepernick."I got to play better," Kaepernick said. "There were plays out there that I should've made or happened that shouldn't have happened."Our defense played a great game. I gave up those points that were on the scoreboard for them. That's 100-percent my fault."Meanwhile, it was obvious that Fisher, a head coach with a defensive background, won the head-to-head battle against the 49ers' staff.The Rams' defense pressured Kaepernick and took away his ability to strike down the field. Kaepernick completed 21 of 32 passes for 208 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also sacked three times."We didn't execute as an offense," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "Credit them. They played well as a defense. Their coaches schemed well. But we didn't execute and we're late in the season now. We shouldn't be having games like this."We didn't score any points. We didn't move the ball. We didn't score any points. We have to get this fixed. . . It seemed like everything they had called was the best call they could have as a defense."Kaepernick agreed that the Rams always seemed to be in the right defense against whatever the 49ers had called."Yeah, they did have a lot of good calls against things that we had called," Kaepernick said. "Seemed like they were in the right defense against things we were trying to do. Still, we have to go out and make plays."The Rams played nearly three quarters against Kaepernick on Nov. 11 after Smith exited the game with a concussion. They also had two full games to study, as Kaepernick started in victories over the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints to win the starting job."They may have pressured a little more, but did similar things," 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin said. "That's a good defense. I have a lot of respect for them. Both games they did a good job against us. We didn't beat them this year, so hats off to them."

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent


Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
In the meantime, there is beer.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys


Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:

1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.

There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.

Was there anything positive to take from this game?

“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.

Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.

Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.

3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.

The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.

More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.

Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.

“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.