By Morris Phillip
Down one, the 49ers went for two. Just one of the memorable moments in a second half on Saturday that eclipsed all the forgettable football San Francisco has endured over last three plus months since the team’s last win.
Colin Kaepernick’s designed run on a two-point conversion with 31 seconds remaining lifted the 49ers to a 22-21 win over the Rams, snapping the franchise-record 13-game losing streak with one bold stroke. Amazingly, Kaepernick’s game-winner was merely the capper to a fourth quarter like no other for a team that hadn’t shown this level of resolve at any point in recent memory.
“It worked out for us,” Kaepernick gushed. “It felt amazing, a feeling this team had been looking for for a long time now. It is something this team can build on.”
That the 49ers played so poorly for most of the afternoon, punting on eight, consecutive possessions at one point, then trailed by two touchdowns with 10 minutes remaining, made this victory improbable. And that conclusion was obvious without factoring in how decimated the 49ers were on both sides of the ball. In fact, when starting running Carlos Hyde was felled by a vicious tackle at the fourth quarter’s outset, the team’s offense was without its starting running back (Hyde), its top receiver (Torrey Smith), two of its top three tight ends (Vance McDonald, Blake Bell) and all five, presumptive starters on the offensive line.
But somehow in the face of all this inertia, the 49ers and Kaepernick surged, and the Rams collapsed, due to equal parts disinterest and fatigue. Kaepernick even overcame his well-publicized pattern of poor, second half play, finishing 28 of 38 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought he did a good job,” Kelly said of Kaepernick. “We hade a whole new group up front. There was some growing pains for some of the young guys as they were getting their first snaps up there.”
The 49ers struck first, capitalizing on an interception of No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. Tremaine Brock made the pick, and set up the San Francisco offense with a 38-yard return. Two plays later, and despite a penalty for too many men on the field on the initial play, Kaepernick connected with Hyde for a 19-yard scoring pass.
But as the afternoon wore on, and the punts by both teams quickly added up, the 49ers proved for more generous than the Rams.