San Francisco, CA - Ten seconds left on the clock, no timeouts, third and goal. Colin Kaepernick felt he was in but Middle Line Backer James Laurinaitis and the Rams defense thought differently when they stopped Kaepernick's quarterback sneak forcing him to fumble to end the game. The Forty-Niners lost 13-10 to St. Louis. They find themselves in third place and three games behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.
"The last play, I didn't have a real good view of it," said 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. "They said the play stands. That was the explanation."
"The ball came out, I have to hold on to it," Kaepernick said. "I know I crossed the line. Yeah, I did bobble the snap but regardless. I was looking into the end zone."
Kaepernick fumbled the ball at the goal line with two seconds left in the game trying for the go-ahead score despite tying the game and heading into overtime. San Francisco had countless opportunities on the last drive due to back-to-back penalties by the Rams. But the 49ers failed to complete one play that would land them into the end zone. The last play was reviewed and upheld leaving San Francisco speechless as they left the field.
"I just went to kind of meet him head to head down there and as I'm going down, I just see the ball sitting there," said Laurinaitis, who recovered the fumble.
The 49ers got off to a slow start, Kaepernick moved the offense effectively on opening drive. But was almost picked off on second down being forced to call a timeout on next play. He threw out of the end zone bringing in the field goal team to punt. Flags went flying, and San Francisco was awarded five yards to kick a 34-yard field goal. Phil Dawson's kick was good and the 49ers lead 3-0 in the first quarter.
St. Louis clapped back and tied the game in the final minutes of the quarter with a 37-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein. Prior to the field goal, quarterback Austin Davis injured his troubled knee after sliding awkwardly into the grass that's been a problem since the stadium opened. He limped off the field and back-up quarterback Shaun Hill came in for one snap before Davis returned after adjusting his knee brace.
"There are mental mistakes that we need to get cleaned up," Safety Eric Reid said. "We're halfway through the season. But, like I said, we caught a tough break. We've just got to come back next week and get a win."
Antoine Bethea intercepted Davis' pass in the second quarter. Kaepernick found Anquan Boldin across the middle for the 27-yard touchdown extending the 49ers lead 10-3. Bethea almost had his second pick, but Perrish Cox got in on the action and picked off Davis's pass rushing for 10 yards but San Francisco failed to score on the drive.
A terrible call by the referees stop the momentum for the 49ers. Frank Gore recovered his own fumble but the refs called a forward progress failed. It remained San Francisco's ball, Kepernick was sacked for the third time and the 49ers were forced to punt. With two minutes left in the second, RDE Robert Quinn sacked Kaepernick forcing him to fumble the ball. Davis connected with a wide open Kenny Britt for the 27-yard touchdown and tied the game 10-10 with a minute left in the first half.
"We've got to just, as a team, come in Tuesday and make our minds up on where we want to go," said Gore. "We've got to play better football as a team and we've got to make plays when it's there. We just haven't been consistent and in this league you can't do that. You can't win like that. We let the Rams hang around and they got momentum and pulled it off."
Kaepernick was sacked eight times, fumbled twice while the offense struggled the entire game. St. Louis punt returner Tavon Austin ran forward and backwards without being touched after catching Dawson's 53-yard punt. San Francisco challenged the play but the refs called it a forward progress that had stopped to end the half. Tough break for the 49ers, that horrible call was very similar to Gore's fumble earlier. Two easy points earned on a safety wasted.
"Not enough good football," Harbaugh said. "We got beat."
"The ship didn't sink," Vernon Davis said. "We're still in it. We have to just play strong, stay focused, and stay into it."