49ers' run ends in NFC title game, 20-17 in OT


49ers' run ends in NFC title game, 20-17 in OT


SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers' unbelievable journey ended Sunday, as New York advanced to Super Bowl XLVI with a 20-17 overtime victory over San Francisco in the NFC Championship.Kyle Williams' fumble on a punt return gave New York the ball deep in San Francisco territory, setting up Lawrence Tynes for the game-winner from 31 yards out, 7:54 into overtime.
Tynes also delivered the game-winning kick in OT at Green Bay in the 2008 NFC title game.

On the game-turning play, New York's Devin Thomas recovered his second fumble of the day after Jacquian Williams stripped Williams.

You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it away in that fashion and to lose a game of this magnitude," Williams said in a somber 49ers locker room. "It is what it is. We're going to move forward as a team. Everyone has come to pat me on the back and the shoulder to say it's not me."
Early in the game, quarterback Alex Smith and tight end Vernon Davis picked up where they left off from a week earlier, twice burning the Giants with long pass plays.
But it was not enough on a cold and rainy day at Candlestick Park.

"Congrats to the Giants," head coach Jim Harbaugh said in his postgame press conference. "I thought they played a heck of a ballgame and found a way to win. You tip your cap to them."The 49ers' bid to advance to the Super Bowl for the sixth time in franchise history and the first time since the 1994 season fell short.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, that's a great team over there," 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Mindi Bach. "It's all you can do -- everybody put everything in, I put everything in, put it on the table. Whatever happens, happens. ... It was a battle and they came out on top."
Nevertheless, even in defeat, it represented an end to a remarkable season. The 49ers were 6-10 last season, and expectations were low -- in large part because the lockout eliminated all offseason programs across the NFL."Whether we had to go to 100 times in overtime or win it in regulation, in our minds we knew that game had to be ours. We was going to win that game, but unfortunately we didn't," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said.
After the lockout lifted, Harbaugh quickly instilled a team-first attitude and mindset that focused, as he said, on getting one-percent better every day.At the end of training camp, all 53 men who earned spots on the roster, as well as the coaching staff, were rewarded with work shorts with name tags affixed to reinforce the commitment to the blue-collar mentality.When asked last week to sum up the 49ers in a word or two, Harbaugh answered: "I'll use six: The team, the team, the team. And with this team, that's not just a mantra, that's who they are."The 49ers embraced that mentality to a 13-3 regular-season record and NFC West title.Davis caught a 28-yard pass from Smith with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter to give the 49ers a 14-10 lead. The play broke an offensive drought that began after Smith hit Davis for a 73-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.The 49ers tied it at 17-17 when they drove 68 yards and scored on David Akers' 25-yard field goal with 6:42 remaining.The Giants took a 17-14 lead with 8:18 left in the fourth quarter on Eli Manning's 17-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham. The Giants went after 49ers fourth cornerback Tramaine Brock, who was pressed into service when Tarell Brown was knocked from the game at the end of the third quarter with a head injury when he collided with teammate Dashon Goldson.The Giants got a break to set up that score when punt returner Williams, handling the duties with Ted Ginn out with a knee injury, touched a punt, allowing the Giants to recover at the 49ers' 29-yard line. It would prove to be a precursor to disaster.
It was a back-and-fourth game throughout. After Davis' 73-yard touchdown, in which he blew past safety Antrel Rolle, the Giants evened things up early in the second quarter.The Giants matched the 49ers with a 10-play, 69-yard drive that was capped by Manning's 6-yard scoring pass to tight end Bear Pascoe, a 2009 draft pick of the 49ers. Pascoe was released at the end of training camp and never played a regular-season down with the 49ers.Manning repeatedly looked for receiver Victor Cruz, who was mostly matched against Rogers. Cruz caught eight passes for 125 yards in the first half. Four of his receptions came on the go-ahead drive, which ended with Tynes' 31-yard field goal with :02 remaining.Tight end Delanie Walker, who sustained a fractured jaw on Christmas Eve, returned to action just four weeks after the injury. He played most of the game, as the 49ers primarily used two-TE sets.
The disappointing defeat echoed a similar outcome in 1991, when Roger Craig fumbled with the 49ers leading 13-12 late in the fourth quarter, ushering in a 15-13 Giants win that harlted San Francisco's march to a third straight Super Bowl. The Giants defeated Buffalo in the Super Bowl.

Report: Colts request permission to interview Paton

Report: Colts request permission to interview Paton

George Paton, one of the remaining possibilities for the 49ers’ general manager position, is reportedly on the Indianapolis Colts’ list of candidates to fill their vacancy, too.

The Colts have requested permission to speak with Paton, the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported on Monday.

Paton is scheduled for a second interview with the 49ers on Friday, along with Atlanta offensive coordinator and San Francisco’s presumptive head coach, in Atlanta.

The Colts also requested permission to interview Seattle co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, USA Today reported. Kirchern and Fitterer also interviewed with the 49ers. Kirchner pulled his name from consideration, while the 49ers informed Fitterer he would not be asked back for a second interview.

The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson on Saturday. Owner Jim Irsay said Indianapolis’ vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III would be a candidate. The 49ers also interviewed Raye, who was informed he would not be included in a second round of interviews.

Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the other known candidate for the 49ers’ general manager position that opened when the firing of Trent Baalke was announced at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season.

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.