49ers keep early lead vs. Rams after strange call overturned


When you think you've seen it all, the NFL is here to remind you that you, in fact, have not.

A bizarre sequence Sunday night when the 49ers hosted the Los Angeles Rams was our latest reminder. Had it gone the other way, San Francisco might not have taken a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

Running back Jerick McKinnon rushed for a handful of yards and a first down just shy of midfield. McKinnon then flipped the ball forward, thinking he was down. The problem? McKinnon was not ruled down.

The officials initially ruled that McKinnon fumbled the ball, and the Rams would take over at the 10-yard line, where safety John Johnson III was pushed out of bounds ... until the referees overturned the call on review.

Got all that?

Despite the handful of minutes of confusion, McKinnon was ruled to have rushed four yards and the first down, keeping the 49ers' drive alive. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle four plays later on fourth down.

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Had the initial call stood, the Rams would've had four downs to tie the game 7-7. The overturned ruling, then, effectively served as a 14-point and 40-yard swing. That's a big deal for any team, let alone one that hasn't led in two weeks, as is the case with the 49ers. That cushion proved important, as the Rams cut the 49ers' lead to 14-6 on the ensuing drive.


At this point, the struggling 49ers will take what they can get.