For the third straight game, the 49ers dug themselves into a 14 point hole, then methodically clawed their way out and won.
This time, they were down 14-0 after the first quarter and looked to be heading into the half trailing 14-3, when out of the blue, with 30 seconds left in the half, Brandon Lloyd juked out Rams CB Janoris Jenkins and raced down the sideline for an 80 yard TD that sucked all the wind out of the Rams.
From that point on, it was all 49ers. And all Colin Kaepernick (3 TD passes and 343 yards). And DC Vic Fangio, who once again figured out what the opponent was doing, then shut them down completely for the final three quarters. All the while mixing in replacements for injured 49er starters.
The team is now without Patrick Willis, Tramaine Brock, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, and Glenn Dorsey — five starters! — yet the 49er defense continues to shine. Rams QB Austin Davis was 11-14 in the first half, but only 10-28 in the second. The Rams had 75 yards rushing in the first half, but only 18 in the second.
For the most part, the 49ers avoided their Red Zone feebleality by scoring from long range! The 80 yard TD, a 32 yarder to Michael Crabtree, and an 11 yarder to Anquan Boldin. Technically, the 11 yarder was in the Red Zone, but it’s the First and Goal situations that seem to baffle 49ers’ OC Greg Roman.
And sure enough, late in the 4th quarter, with a chance to close out the game with a first down at the Rams’ two, the team went phhhttt. After TEs Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald both got wide open in the back of the end zone, only to run into each other and muff the pass, Roman dialed up three straight runs into the middle of the line. Result: 1 yard, no points, and ball to the Rams.
Just to emphasize the futility, the 49ers tried Frank Gore up the middle on 4th and 1 from the Rams 34 a few minutes later and once again got stuffed.
We’re getting close to the definition of insanity here. The last time the 49ers had any luck on first and goal situations or picking up 1 measly yard, Jimmy Raye was the OC (2009). If Raye weren’t employed elsewhere (Miami is his latest stop, I think), we could hire him to run the offense from inside the ten.
But what fun would that be? No nail-biting end games. No Rolaids inducing anxiety. No cursing and heaving shit at the TV and foaming at the mouth while your wife and children look on in horror at the beast that lies within. Ladies and gentlemen, your San Francisco 49ers. Somehow they usually emerge on top, even though you hardly had a relaxing moment watching in the entire game.
Just a note, though. Falling 14 points behind Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos next Sunday might not be so easy to overcome.