The St. Louis Rams were justified in their belief that they should have beaten San Francisco in what eventually was a 24-24 tie on Nov. 11. This time the script was flipped, but unlike the Rams did the first time around, the 49ers will head home with a loss.
QB Colin Kaepernick showed his first glaring signs of inexperience, K David Akers' struggles continued, S Dashon Goldson was penalized at an inopportune moment, TE Delanie Walker had a key drop and Jim Harbaugh's staff was outclassed by Jeff Fisher's.
Rams K Greg Zuerlein also redeemed himself for an OT miss in the first go-around with a pair of kicks from 50-plus.
The Rams' first 10 points of the games were gift-wrapped from Kaepernick. The first two came on a safety in which he was flagged for grounding in the end zone, although Kaepernick disputed that, saying that, one, he was still in the tackle box and, two, his pass reached the line of scrimmage.
A fumble on an option pitch allowed the Rams to tie the game with 3:04 left and set the stage for a loss the team would like to have back. The miscues could have easily been forgotten if not for more that followed.
After St. Louis tied it at 10, the 49ers drove the ball deep into Rams territory and had a potential go-head TD pass dropped by Walker. They had to settle for a field goal, which gave St. Louis life. On the Rams' ensuing drive, a 15-yard penalty against Goldson for hitting Rams QB Sam Bradford while he was in his slide gave them the boost they needed. Zuerlein was good from 53 yards to send the game to OT.
In OT, David Akers missed wide right on a 51-yard attempt and Zuerlein connected from 54 to give St. Louis the win.
When the game turned: On an option pitch from the San Francisco 17-yard line, Kaepernick tossed it over the head of WR Ted Ginn Jr., who was lined up at RB; St. Louis CB Janoris Jenkins recovered the fumble for a touchdown. A two-point conversion for the Rams followed, and St. Louis tied the game at 10 with 3:04 left. It was the Rams' only TD of the game, and it represented their second scoring play as a result of the defense.
Highlight moments: Kaepernick's highlight moment was a 50-yard scramble that set the 49ers up for a go-ahead FG with 1:34 left. … Rams K Greg Zuerlein connected on a 53-yard FG as time expired in regulation to force OT, then again with 26 seconds left in OT to give the Rams the win. … 49ers LB Aldon Smith registered sack No. 17.5 for the season, which tied Fred Dean's single-season franchise record from 1983.
- 49ers WR Michael Crabtree -- 7 catches, 101 yards
- Rams WR Chris Givens -- 11 catches, 92 yards
- 49ers DL Justin Smith -- 8 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL
- Rams LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar -- 11 tackles, .5 sacks, 2 TFL
What they said about Kaepernick's fumbled option pitch:
- 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh -- “That's on us. It was the wrong play call at that time. Would have loved to have that one back, but don't blame the players on that one. Too risky of a play at that time.”
- 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick -- “It was a quick pull and a pitch, just pitched it high. It was my fault all the way. Was trying to make a play, should have played it safe. Should have just kept it and let the clock run, let our punter get on the field and let our defense play."
Numbers you should know: St. Louis is undefeated against the NFC West (4-0-1) but 1-6 in their other seven games. … Take away a 23-yard run from RB Frank Gore and he ran for 35 yards on the other 22 carries, an average of 1.6 yards per carry. … St. Louis won the game despite not scoring an offensive TD. … In all three 49ers losses this season, they lost the turnover battle. Those are the only three games this year that has happened. …
Going forward: 49ers: San Francisco holds a two-game lead in the division, coupled with Seattle's win at Chicago. The 49ers host Miami next week before difficult trips to New England and Seattle. They close the season with a home game against Arizona on Dec. 30. Rams: The Rams will travel to Buffalo next week before hosting Minnesota in their final home game on Dec. 16. They'll close out the regular season with trips to Tampa Bay and Seattle.
Get more Rams updates and analysis from Larry Hartstein @CBSRams.