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Cowboys shock 49ers in overtime, 27-24

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Cowboys shock 49ers in overtime, 27-24

Sept. 18, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Tony Romo felt sick to his stomach. It hurt to breathe, let alone bark out the cadence in a hostile road stadium.Playing with the throbbing pain from a fractured rib, Romo rallied America's Team just as he promised he would.In a week when Romo vowed to play his best game, he delivered a gutsy comeback that looked so unlikely when he briefly came out from halftime and then returned to the locker room.Moments after the Cowboys (1-1) announced the quarterback was done for the day, there came No. 9 ready to take charge of the huddle once again.Romo hit Jesse Holley on a 77-yard completion on the Cowboys' first play of overtime that set up Dan Bailey's winning 19-yard field goal 2:53 into the overtime, and Dallas pulled off an improbable 27-24 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.In one frantic span, Romo emphatically left his mark on the storied Cowboys-49ers rivalry that dates back decades to all those epic matchups in the NFC title game that regularly set up Super Bowl victories by the winner."It's got to be one of those things that will follow him through his career. I know what it was here in the locker room at halftime. I know what he had to do to get back on the field," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said."I know what he had to do before (painkillers) took hold to relieve him from his pain. But, boy, did he come back. That was inspirational."Romo emerged from the locker room after the second-half kickoff and walked briefly into the huddle as Jon Kitna returned to the sideline, then Romo immediately came off under doctor's orders and headed back to the locker room.Back on the sideline late in the third quarter, Romo tapped Jason Garrett on the shoulder and told the coach to put him back in the game."Eventually, what was convincing was, 'At some point I'm going to play with this thing, so why not now?'" Garrett said, quoting Romo. "It's about a quarterback but it's really about a football player and a competitor. And Tony is that. One of the best competitors I've ever been around."This was an exact reverse of what happened a week earlier: a 27-24 road loss to the Jets after Dallas blew a late 14-point lead and watched New York kick the winning field goal. Romo's late interception contributed to that Week 1 collapse. Going on a few hours of sleep, he was back to work early Monday morning preparing for the 49ers.Bailey kicked a tying 48-yard field goal Sunday as time expired in regulation after missing an early 21-yard attempt. That delighted the large contingent - close to one-third - of Cowboys fans in Candlestick Park.Romo completed five of six passes on the tying drive, connecting on consecutive throws to Holley before finding him again in OT."Ribs are tough," Romo said. "It's just hard to breathe, and talk really. You have to talk loud, especially on the road."Romo wasn't the only one playing hurt, either. Running back Felix Jones separated his shoulder early in the game, Jerry Jones said.Miles Austin made three touchdown receptions among his nine catches for 143 yards, leaping over a defender and diving into the end zone to pull Dallas within 24-21 with 6:55 to play. Austin later hurt his hamstring.Jones won't need to defend Romo after this one. He grimaced and limped. He needed help from a lineman to stand up as the vicious hits kept coming.Romo completed 20 of 33 passes for 345 yards and Kitna found Austin for a 5-yard TD, but also threw two interceptions during his brief appearance. As Romo's teammates celebrated, cheered and hugged, he slowly made his way to midfield for postgame handshakes.Romo returned for the last series of the third quarter, the final 15 minutes and OT. He didn't give Garrett much chance to say no."I just told him I was good to go. I think he asked some of the guys," Romo said. "I didn't give him too much of a chance. I just ran on the field."The 49ers (1-1) were trying to move to 2-0 under new coach Jim Harbaugh after a 33-17 victory over defending NFC West champion Seattle last week.Alex Smith threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns, including a 29-yard strike to Delanie Walker in the third quarter. Smith found himself in the familiar predicament of getting hit. He was sacked six times as San Francisco's offensive line often failed to protect him or give him ample time in the pocket to be effective.Frank Gore ran for a 1-yard score and Kyle Williams had a 12-yard touchdown catch as San Francisco went ahead 14-0.Dallas had a final chance in regulation, getting the ball back with 4:03 to play starting from its own 26.Romo, in the shotgun as he'd been most of the day, delivered on third-and-6 from the 43 with a 7-yard completion to Austin. They connected on another 7-yard gain the next play.After Jones this week called Romo's performance against the Jets "outstanding," Romo made all the right calls in crunch time.He played through multiple hits in the first half, when he threw a late 53-yard touchdown pass to Austin to bring Dallas within 14-7. The QB came up slowly after being clobbered on a blindside cornerback blitz by Carlos Rogers as he was throwing in the second quarter.Romo looked to be headed for another tough day.The Cowboys came up short on a 76-yard drive over the opening 7 12 minutes after Bailey missed wide right on his 21-yard field goal attempt. Then, it was three straight three-and-outs.When it mattered, Romo came through."He understands that all eyes are on him," said safety Donte Whitner, beat on the deep throw in OT."They expect him to lead them to the playoffs and ultimately a championship. For a guy like that, after the things that happened last week, you expected him to come back into the football game."Notes: It was the first overtime game of the season. ... The 49ers were outgained in total yards 472-206. ... Dallas' DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher each had two sacks. ... San Francisco's Braylon Edwards limped off with a right knee injury after making a 21-yard catch in the first quarter. Harbaugh had no update afterward.

49ers' head coach Kyle Shanahan takes pride in speed of offense

49ers' head coach Kyle Shanahan takes pride in speed of offense

SANTA CLARA – If there is any validity to Matt Ryan’s complaint that former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan struggled getting play calls to his quarterback in a timely fashion, it is difficult to find much evidence.

The past two seasons, only three teams went through an entire season without the play clock expiring on offense. The Falcons under Shanahan went without a delay-of-game penalty both of the past two seasons. The Denver Broncos of last season were the only other offensive unit in the NFL that was not penalized for the play clock hitting :00.

“Any play-caller that you talk to that’s usually one of the most important things and something I pride myself on a lot, is how quick can you get a play call into a quarterback,” said Shanahan, who will remain the playcaller for the 49ers while also serving as head coach.

"And the quicker you do the more comfortable it is, not just for him but the entire offense. They’re not panicked. They’re being able to move to the line. And with me as a coordinator personally, I try almost every situation to get it in as fast as possible. And I can be honest, there’s sometimes I do better than others. There are sometimes I don’t do it as good. There’s sometimes I do it real good.”

Shanahan said he took a lot of pride in the fact that the Falcons avoided any delay-of-game penalties the past two seasons. He said Ryan deserves credit, too.

“I was really proud of those guys on offense, which is a lot of credit to Matt and the rest of the guys, that regardless when we did get it in, two years straight without a delay of game and being the only team to even do that one year I think was a pretty impressive task,” Shanahan said. “We did a good job of that as a whole.”

In a recent interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, Ryan was critical of Shanahan’s timeliness in delivering the play calls in the Falcons' collapse in Super Bowl 51. (It did not appear the Falcons' offense was scrambling to get to the line of scrimmage and get the ball snapped after the built a 28-3 lead.)

“Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan told Prisco. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.”

Shanahan said on Thursday that he wants his offense to play fast. Shanahan said he sets his offense so there is no need to audible out of a play if the defense is geared to stop the primary option on a particular call.

“If it’s not the perfect play, there’s usually four other options that you’ve just got to adjust to and either get an incompletion or get a smaller gain,” Shanahan said. “But, it’s not, ‘Hey, if I don’t call the perfect play, you check and get us into the perfect play.’

"I’ve been in systems like that and it’s just what your opinion is, and there’s really no right answer, but I was pretty happy with how our system worked in Atlanta. And I’ve been confident with players playing fast and not putting so much pressure on them to fix every play that the coordinator calls. I like to put a little more on myself and I want them when I do call a bad play, we’ll give you an answer."

Shanahan will continue to call the plays from the sideline. Quarterback Brian Hoyer said he insisted on working on the radio communication during the offseason program. Hoyer played in Shanahan's offense in 2014 with the Cleveland Browns, and he said that experience should help him relay the calls more smoothly to his teammates in the huddle.

"I kind of have a method of I want to be just outside the huddle when the play is coming out," Hoyer said. "I don’t want to be in the huddle trying to give the play while he’s talking to me. I want to hear him say the play in my helmet, take a second, get in the huddle and then call the play.

"Back in Cleveland when I was just learning the system I was just trying to repeat what he was saying, get it to the team and then as I’m walking to the line of scrimmage think of the play. Whereas now, I hear the play coming in and I can paint a picture of what Kyle is trying to emphasize on that play, and then relay it to the rest of the offense and break the huddle and go. We’ve been doing that I think pretty much since day one is using that coach-to-quarterback communication.”

49ers receive early vindication on selection of Reuben Foster

49ers receive early vindication on selection of Reuben Foster

SANTA CLARA – General manager John Lynch received the text message Wednesday from Dr. Tim McAdams that might have come as a surprise to many of the teams that passed on linebacker Reuben Foster during the draft.

The 49ers’ team physician declared Foster’s surgically repaired right shoulder is ready to play football. The 49ers are scheduled for their first practice of training camp on Friday, and Foster will be a full participant.

“We feel great about our doctors, our medical program here,” Lynch said on Thursday, as the 49ers reported to training camp. “Our trainer, Jeff Ferguson, is as good as there is in the league. Dr. McAdams, world-renowned. He has the Stanford name behind him.

“We challenged him numerous times. From his observation, the shoulder was good.”

Foster’s tumble to the back end of the first round was widely blamed on his shoulder condition. The 49ers traded with the Seattle Seahawks to select Foster with the No. 31 overall pick. Almost immediately, the 49ers were scrutinized for making the selection.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported some teams did not even consider drafting Foster. One “well-placed source with knowledge of the injury” told Schefter that Foster’s surgery “didn’t take.”

The 49ers’ willingness to clear Foster for the first day of camp is a reality that appears to be in stark contrast to the opinions around the league that Foster’s shoulder would require additional surgery. The 49ers expect Foster to be ready Sunday for the first padded, contact practice of training camp.

“We pride ourselves in doing all of our due diligence, not afterward, but before we make the decisions,” Lynch said. “We’d done exhaustive research on Reuben Foster in a lot of different areas. Medically was one area.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he the nature of Foster’s injury convinced him that even the worst-case scenario, in the big picture, was not so bad. Foster sustained a torn rotator cuff in Alabama’s national semifinal game against Washington and played the championship game against Clemson with the injury.

“I was proud of our doctors for putting themselves out there and giving their honest opinion about what they felt,” Shanahan said. “They feel it is healed, and it’s going to be good. I respect them for doing that. They went against the norm on that, and that isn’t always easy.

“(I’m) pretty confident when it is a shoulder injury, if it doesn’t heal the right way or it’s done wrong, you have to re-do a surgery, yes, it’s time, but it’s not going to affect the guy we saw on tape.”