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Washington at San Francisco

Nedney's FG as time expires lifts 49ers; Singletary will remain coach

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Coach Mike Singletary didn't have to beat the Washington Redskins to lose his interim tag with the San Francisco 49ers. He would have kept his job even if Joe Nedney's game-ending field goal hadn't sneaked between the uprights.

Yet Singletary just wouldn't have felt as much pride in his shiny new title without the 27-24 victory Sunday, which capped the 49ers' remarkable late-season surge: five wins in seven games with a new quarterback and a novel attitude.

After all, the long-struggling Niners hardly ever won close games against reputable opponents during the last six losing years - until a Hall of Fame linebacker was put in charge of teaching them.

"I find myself in the middle of something, feeling very fortunate to be surrounded by all of the good people around me," said Singletary, who somehow found time to change into a suit in the few minutes between Nedney's kick and president Jed York's announcement. "Now it's just a matter of continuing to hype it up, continuing to move forward and keep our eyes on the vision that we have."

San Francisco finished 7-9 for the second time in three years, but went 5-4 overall under Singletary, who took over when Mike Nolan, his former boss, was fired Oct. 20. The 49ers haven't made the playoffs or had a winning season since 2002, yet Singletary managed to match their best record in that dismal stretch.

When York and general manager Scot McCloughan announced Singletary's fate to the players, the Candlestick Park locker room erupted in cheers.

"We know the right guy got the job," said Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis, Singletary's prize pupil. "He brings the best out of us. It's just great chemistry."

Singletary, who got a four-year deal, also knew he wouldn't be making new business cards without the help of Shaun Hill, who coolly led a last-minute drive to set up Nedney's 39-yard kick as time expired.

Hill, the longtime backup quarterback whose promotion by Singletary clearly catalyzed the 49ers' improvements, went 21-for-30 for 245 yards, rushing for an early score and throwing a TD pass while remaining unbeaten in five games as a starter at home.

On that last drive after Jason Campbell pushed the Redskins to a tying score with 1:09 left, Hill hit Michael Robinson and Bryant Johnson with long passes before Nedney won it with his second field goal of the final minutes.

"It's like coach Singletary said all week: This isn't the end, this is the beginning," Hill said. "I think all of us believe that. We don't ever want to be done in December again."

There were similar feelings for Washington (8-8), which finished coach Jim Zorn's rookie year with four losses in five games. The Redskins made a 55-yard drive and tied it on Shaun Suisham's extra point after a 3-yard TD run on fourth down by Campbell -- but they left too much time for Hill.

Washington finished last in the NFC East after a 6-2 start.

"We put ourselves in a good position after the first half of the season," Campbell said. "We had an opportunity to try to win the division, and an opportunity to get a home game for the playoffs. We let it all slip away, and it's tough, it's tough."

Campbell passed for 156 yards and Clinton Portis rushed for 80 and a score. Antwaan Randle El caught a TD pass, but Washington's defense yielded 20 points in the second half.

Zorn could have been the first Washington rookie coach since George Allen in 1971 to finish with a winning record, but he couldn't build on the euphoria behind his club's quick start. Zorn's job is safe, according to top executive Vinny Cerrato, but other changes could be in store for his veteran-laden club.

"In the second half we just cracked open a window of opportunity, and certainly the 49ers took advantage of it," Zorn said. "We were frustrated a little bit, and then came back and tied it up. To not give up and to come back and keep the effort going, I couldn't be more proud of these guys."

Even before the Niners' postgame announcement, the back-and-forth game was more entertaining than many expected from two NFC clubs out of playoff contention. San Francisco went ahead 21-17 when Jason Hill scored on a 9-yard catch early in the fourth quarter, capping an 80-yard drive.

Nedney added a 33-yard field goal with 5:06 left, but Campbell quickly moved the Washington offense forward, picking up 23 yards on a scramble to the 10 right before the 2-minute warning. On fourth down from the 3, Campbell dropped back, but quickly slid through the middle to stretch the ball over the goal line for his first rushing touchdown of the season.

Frank Gore returned from a two-game injury absence to rush for 58 yards, wrapping up his franchise-record third consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. DeShaun Foster played most of the game for his hobbled teammate, picking up 44 yards and a score.

"We showed a lot of mental toughness this season with the coaching change," Gore said. "We could have been in trouble or quit, but we didn't."

Notes

  • The 49ers wore their cherry-red-and-gold throwback uniforms.
  • Niners S Michael Lewis left late in the first half with an injured left knee.
  • Hill capped the Niners' opening drive with a 2-yard scoring run, flipping the ball to left guard David Baas for the celebratory spike.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Joe Nedney boots the game-winning 39-yard field goal as time expires to lift San Francisco.
 
Joe Nedney boots the game-winning 39-yard field goal as time expires to lift San Francisco. (AP)
 

 

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Related Links
 
Sun. Dec. 28Final
0170724
7071327
WAS - Pass: J. Campbell (18-30, 156), Rush: C. Portis (29-80)
SF - Pass: S. Hill (21-30, 245), Rush: F. Gore (11-58)
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDShaun Hill, 2 Yd run (Joe Nedney kick is good), 9:24. Drive: 10 plays, 65 yards in 5:36.
2ND QUARTER
TDClinton Portis, 4 Yd run (Shaun Suisham kick is good), 14:20. Drive: 10 plays, 62 yards in 4:50.
FGShaun Suisham 41 Yd, 11:26. Drive: 4 plays, 0 yards in 1:24.
TDAntwaan Randle El, 6 Yd pass from Jason Campbell (Shaun Suisham kick is good), 0:26. Drive: 16 plays, 78 yards in 9:10.
3RD QUARTER
TDDeShaun Foster, 1 Yd run (Joe Nedney kick is good), 11:19. Drive: 5 plays, 38 yards in 2:24.
4TH QUARTER
TDJason Hill, 9 Yd pass from Shaun Hill (Joe Nedney kick is good), 9:53. Drive: 8 plays, 80 yards in 4:11.
FGJoe Nedney 33 Yd, 5:06. Drive: 5 plays, 34 yards in 2:43.
TDJason Campbell, 2 Yd run (Shaun Suisham kick is good), 1:09. Drive: 10 plays, 55 yards in 3:57.
FGJoe Nedney 39 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 8 plays, 51 yards in 1:09.
Players of the Game
St. Louis

S. Hill
Att 30
Comp 21
Yds 245
TD 1

C. Portis
Rush 29
Yds 80
Avg 2.8
TD 1
 
Washington
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
J. Campbell18/3015610
RushingATTYDSTDLG
C. Portis298017
J. Campbell439123
L. Betts1606
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
S. Moss668017
C. Cooley657014
A. Randle El31616
J. Thrash1808
L. Betts2708
San Francisco
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
S. Hill21/3024511
RushingATTYDSTDLG
F. Gore1158011
D. Foster944118
J. Hill1909
S. Hill4817
M. Robinson1202
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
J. Morgan350026
B. Johnson243024
M. Robinson243024
B. Bajema129029
J. Hill42819
D. Foster320012
V. Davis31809
I. Bruce2809
F. Gore1606
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
DEN 21 Final
SD 52
SEA 21 Final
ARI 34
OAK 31 Final
TB 24
CLE 0 Final
PIT 31
DAL 6 Final
PHI 44
MIA 24 Final
NYJ 17
CAR 33 Final
NO 31
NYG 19 Final
MIN 20
TEN 0 Final
IND 23
CHI 24 Final
HOU 31
DET 21 Final
GB 31
KC 6 Final
CIN 16
NE 13 Final
BUF 0
JAC 7 Final
BAL 27
STL 27 Final
ATL 31