SANTA CLARA -- Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois was nearly the player who secured a 49ers victory on Sunday.
Instead, he had teammates coming up to him Monday morning in the locker room telling him how his kick blocking near-miss actually might have benefited Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey on his game-tying 48-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime.
Jean Francois got good penetration against Cowboys rookie lineman Kevin Kowalski on the field-goal attempt and nearly blocked the kick.
"Once the snap went off, I dipped my right shoulder and put my (left) hand up," Jean Francois said. "All I could feel was the wind come across my hand. If I'd gotten my right hand up, that ball would've never gotten off."But 49ers defensive linemen Will Tukuafu and Demarcus Dobbs had just gotten out of the film room. They both told Jean Francois that the kick did not appear to be on line. But Jean Francois appeared to actually re-direct the kick through the uprights."It was off already, Ricky . . . You grazed it and it went back.""It was going out already?" Jean Francois asked. "So, basically, I helped Dallas win the game."Bailey's kick was good, forcing overtime. Bailey kicked a 19-yarder in overtime for the Cowboys' 27-24 victory.