Maiocco's Instant Replay: No winner on this day with 24-24 tie

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Maiocco's Instant Replay: No winner on this day with 24-24 tie

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Seventy five minutes of football was not enough to determine a winner at Candlestick Park Sunday afternoon.

Both David Akers and Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein missed potential game-winning field goals in overtime, and the NFC West rivals tied 24-24.

It's the first time the 49ers have taken part in a draw since October 19, 1986 against the Atlanta Falcons, and it's the first tie in the NFL since November 16, 2008 when the Eagles and Bengals tied 13-13.

KAEPERNICK TO THE RESCUE (ALMOST): The 49ers traded up to select quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second round of last year's draft.They got him for moments like Sunday, when starter Alex Smith was forced out of the action against the St. Louis Rams due to a concussion in the second quarter.It wasn't always graceful, but Kaepernick ran for a second-half touchdown when he engineered an 11-play, 81-yard drive, culminating in a seven-yard touchdown scamper at the left pylon to cut the 49ers' deficit to 17-14 with 8:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.On the ensuing kickoff, Tramaine Brock stripped Rams return Isaiah Pead of the ball and Darcel McBath made the recovery at the 20-yard line. On the next play, Frank Gore got around the left side for a 20-yard scoring run to give the 49ers a 21-17 lead with 8:23 remaining.Kaepernick finished the game completing 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards with no touchdown passes and no interceptions.He ran eight times for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Until the fourth quarter, very little went right for the 49ers, who still lead the NFC West with a 6-2-1 record.
Smith took a huge, legal hit from Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar at the beginning of a 12-play series. Dunbar hit Smith at the end of a 4-yard run. Dunbar hit Smith high in the back of his right shoulder, a legal hit because Smith was out of the pocket and considered a runner.The jarring hit clearly fazed Smith, but he remained in the game long enough to complete the 49ers' only scoring drive of the first half. Smith hit Michael Crabtree on a 14-yard touchdown pass to cut the 49ers' deficit to 14-7 with 8:13 remaining in the second quarter.At that point in the game, Smith completed 7 of 8 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. He had also been sacked twice.But when the 49ers took over for their next series three minutes later, Smith remained on the sideline and Kaepernick went into the game.Dr. Daniel Garza, the concussion expert on the 49ers' medical staff, walked with Smith into the team's locker room a short time later.Smith sustained a concussion in the 49ers' second game of last season but did not miss any playing time. Smith sustained his concussion in the first half of a Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys but did not report his condition to the medical staff until after the game. He was back in the starting lineup for the next game.SLUGGISH START: The Rams thoroughly dominated the first 13 minutes of the game on both sides of the ball to take a 14-0 lead. St. Louis struck first when quarterback Sam Bradford hit rookie Brian Quick on a 36-yard touchdown after 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver fell down in coverage.The next time the Rams touched the ball, running back Steven Jackson took care of most of the work on the ground, including a 7-yard scoring run up the middle for a 14-0 lead with 1:47 remaining in the first quarter.INACTIVES: The 49ers did not have a third quarterback because Scott Tolzien was one of the team's inactive players. There is no longer an emergency third quarterback rule in the NFL. Teams are allowed to suit up 46 players.The 49ers' seven inactive players were: Tolzien, receiver A.J. Jenkins, running backs LaMichael James and Brandon Jacobs, guard Joe Looney, nose tackle Ian Williams and safety Trenton Robinson.Meanwhile, the Rams deactivated rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens for violating team rules.THIS 'N' THAT: Crabtree has caught a touchdown pass in each of his past five games against the Rams. He has six touchdown receptions in that time. . . . The Rams out-witted the 49ers toward the end of the first half when 49ers special-teams coordinator Brad Seely sent Culliver off the left corner to attempt a block. Punter Johnny Hekker took the snap on a fourth-and-4, and immediately threw a pass to a wide-open Rodney McLeod for a 21-yard gain. The Rams ran out the clock to go into the locker room leading 14-7. . . Safety Dashon Goldson was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for taking off his helmet in the field of play. And at the end of a third-down play, defensive lineman Ray McDonald was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on quarterback Sam Bradford. Those plays enabled the Rams to increase their lead to 17-7 late in the third quarter on Greg Zuerlein's 27-yard field goal. . . The 49ers return to action next week on "Monday Night Football" to face the Chicago Bears, who enter Sunday night's game against the Houston Texans with a 7-1 record.

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”