How 49ers reacted to Aiyuk's game-winning TD in real-time


CINCINNATI — At first there was some uncertainty if Brandon Aiyuk had actually scored a touchdown to seal the 49ers' 26-23 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Several 49ers players were unsure if they should celebrate, but George Kittle was confident the game was over. The All-Pro tight end had a pretty good view of Aiyuk’s dive toward the pylon from his position in the flat. He immediately threw his hands in the air signaling a touchdown

“I knew he has in,” Kittle said after the game. “It was fun too. The ref told me there was a zero percent chance he was in, and I was ‘I don’t know about that one. I wouldn’t say zero.’ ”

Turns out Kittle was right all along. He didn’t go back to the official to gloat, saying he would see him again soon.  

Aiyuk, who had already had one score reversed in the game, was less certain than his teammate. Midway through the third quarter, the second-year pro caught a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo at the side of the end zone. 

Upon review, Aiyuk didn't get a second foot down and the touchdown was reversed. The young receiver’s confidence in the overtime call was influenced by that first negated play. 

“That one hurt a lot so the second one, that was a wonderful feeling,” Aiyuk said. “I didn’t know that I was in. I looked at the ref and he seemed pretty sure that I was not in. A lot of challenges have not been going my way in the past couple of weeks, so I was a little nervous but then I saw the replay, and I knew I was in.” 


Kyle Shanahan admitted he refused to celebrate until the play was officially ruled a touchdown. The head coach revealed that the play was designed to get the team closer to the goal line but not actually a touchdown. 

“I didn’t expect us to score,” Shanahan said. “I thought it hopefully would get us inside the three, but the move that he made was unbelievable. I still don’t know how he got in. I didn’t really trust til they made it official.” 

Aiyuk’s move wasn’t necessarily what Shanahan wanted either but after scoring a walk-off touchdown, he didn’t receive any criticism. 

“We aren’t really supposed to reach the ball for the pylon unless it’s fourth down,” Aiyuk said. “But nobody said anything to me when I scored.”  

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Garoppolo, like his coach, was a little more conservative with his celebration. The overwhelming number of 49ers fans in Paul Brown Stadium gave him a little indication. 

“I had a good idea," Garoppolo said. “I was talking to some guys as the replay was going and I kind of heard our fans in the back of my ear and they were going nuts and then I had a good feeling at that point.” 

The 49ers head back to Santa Clara with a 7-6 record and their playoff hopes incredibly alive.

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