49ers miscues lead to overtime loss to Rams

49ers miscues lead to overtime loss to Rams
December 3, 2012, 12:15 am
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ST. LOUIS -- Coach Jim Harbaugh does not figure to make any change at the quarterback position after Colin Kaepernick's first loss as an NFL starter.Kaepernick made two crucial mistakes that directly resulted in 10 points for the St. Louis Rams in the 49ers' 16-13 overtime loss at the Edward Jones Done. But he did not have a whole lot of help, either.Most notably, the 49ers' coaches did not provide much help for Kaepernick on Sunday.Coach Jeff Fisher and his Rams staff won the chess match against the 49ers on Sunday. And the 49ers saw their lead in the NFC West shrink to 1 12 games with Seattle's victory over the Chicago Bears.

The 49ers fall to 8-3-1 after failing to win either of their two games against St. Louis this season. On Nov. 11, the 49ers and Rams played to a 24-24 tie at Candlestick Park. On Sunday, the deciding points were scored with just 26 seconds remaining in the extra session.The Rams improve to 5-6-1.Kaepernick took over as the starter last week when Harbaugh made the announcement on Wednesday that he would go with the second-year player over Alex Smith, who was 19-5-1 as a regular-season starter since the beginning of 2011.
"Right now, I feel it will be the same as it was this week," Harbaugh said. "I am proud of Kap. I am proud of the way he played. I thought he did some really good things under heat and duress, and I think he handled himself well. He gave our team a chance to win."But Kaepernick also made a couple of critical mistakes that enabled the Rams to hang around and pull even late in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers were protecting an eight-point lead with three minutes to play when faced with a third-and-3 situation from the St. Louis 17-yard line.Kaepernick had a disastrous turnover, as his left-handed pitch on a zone-read option flipped over receiver Ted Ginn's head. Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins recovered the fumble at the 2-yard line and took it in for the touchdown. The Rams added the two-point conversion to tie the game.

There was plenty blame to go around for the meltdown, beginning with the play call that came from offensive coordinator Greg Roman in the 49ers' coaching booth. Harbaugh admitted it was too risky in that situation."That was on us," Harbaugh said. "That was the wrong play to call at the that time. I would love to have that one back. Don't blame the players on that one. That was too risky of a play to call at that time."When we called it, we really thought it was a safe play but then we got edge pressure and Colin pulled and was forced to pitch right away and it threw the rhythm and timing off."Kaepernick, who ran the pistol offense at Nevada and executed a lot of option pitches in his college career, pointed the finger at himself for the game-changing turnover."It was my fault all the way," Kaepernick said. "(I) should've played it safe, should've just kept it and clock run and punt and let defense play. It was just a bad pitch."The Rams scored their first two points in the third quarter when -- again, on a play that originated from the 17-yard line -- Kaepernick was called for a controversial intentional grounding.The 49ers' defense allowed only three points in regulation, and those points came with no time remaining on Greg Zuerlein's 53-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.Again, the Rams got a boost from 49ers misplays to get into that position.

After the Rams tied the game on Jenkins' fumble recovery, Kaepernick put the 49ers in position to win with a 50-yard run. But several plays later, tight end Delanie Walker dropped a 14-yard pass in the end zone."It touched the tip of my fingertips," Walker said. "I misjudged it. I probably should've taken a different angle to it. It barely hit my finger tips. It was a perfect throw."Then, on a third-and-21, Kaepernick gained 10 yards but ran out of bounds to stop the clock. Had he remained inbounds, it would've forced the Rams to use their final timeout or 40 seconds would've run off the clock.Instead, the Rams used their final timeout to set up Zuerlein's tying field goal. And the Rams got into position with the help of safety Dashon Goldson's unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting a sliding Sam Bradford at the end of an 11-yard run.Once the teams' reached the familiar territory of overtime, kicker David Akers missed a 51-yard field goal wide right to open the door for Zeurlein to make his kick from 54 yards with just :26 remaining in the extra period. Akers and Zeurlein both missed overtime field-goal attempts in the tie game of three weeks ago.

Nobody with the 49ers was pinning this loss on Kaepernick . . . except, maybe, Kaepernick."I got to play better," Kaepernick said. "There were plays out there that I should've made or happened that shouldn't have happened."Our defense played a great game. I gave up those points that were on the scoreboard for them. That's 100-percent my fault."Meanwhile, it was obvious that Fisher, a head coach with a defensive background, won the head-to-head battle against the 49ers' staff.The Rams' defense pressured Kaepernick and took away his ability to strike down the field. Kaepernick completed 21 of 32 passes for 208 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also sacked three times."We didn't execute as an offense," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "Credit them. They played well as a defense. Their coaches schemed well. But we didn't execute and we're late in the season now. We shouldn't be having games like this."We didn't score any points. We didn't move the ball. We didn't score any points. We have to get this fixed. . . It seemed like everything they had called was the best call they could have as a defense."Kaepernick agreed that the Rams always seemed to be in the right defense against whatever the 49ers had called."Yeah, they did have a lot of good calls against things that we had called," Kaepernick said. "Seemed like they were in the right defense against things we were trying to do. Still, we have to go out and make plays."The Rams played nearly three quarters against Kaepernick on Nov. 11 after Smith exited the game with a concussion. They also had two full games to study, as Kaepernick started in victories over the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints to win the starting job."They may have pressured a little more, but did similar things," 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin said. "That's a good defense. I have a lot of respect for them. Both games they did a good job against us. We didn't beat them this year, so hats off to them."