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