49ers attempt free kick after punt fair catch, miss 71-yard field goal

An otherwise tedious first half of football between the 49ers and Rams ended with a mildly exciting finish Thursday night. A little known rule allows the receiving team to attempt a free kick following a punt fair catch, and that's exactly what happened with four seconds left on the clock.

A Rams punt was fair-caught at the 49ers' 39-yard line by Kyle Williams, and instead of a Colin Kaepernick Hail Mary into the end zone as time expired, coach Jim Harbaugh instead opted for the much less likely Phil Dawson free kick from 71 yards away.

And by free kick we mean that the Rams can't rush and Dawson's free to get a Charlie Brown run-up to the ball.

"This is awesome," NFL Network color commentator Mike Mayock proclaimed seconds before Dawson sent the ball both woefully short and wide left of the target as the clock wound down to zero (.gif above via Deadspin).

Mercifully, the first half ended with the 49ers leading 14-3. But, hey, it could've been worse.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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