SAN FRANCISCO — Two typically reliable kickers missed. Penalties doomed both sides. And a furious, thrilling finish to regulation ended with a dramatic dud in overtime: a tie.
And nobody particularly likes a tie. Especially not the NFC West-leading 49ers, with a chance to separate themselves against a division rival. Or the Rams, eager to snap a three-game losing streak.
San Francisco and St. Louis played the NFL’s first tie game in four years as both teams missed overtime field goals in Sunday’s 24-24 outcome.
“I have to say, I’ve been doing this a while. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game like this,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “As I told our guys, we had a number of chances to put the game away. And, unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yarder, but the Rams were penalized 5 yards for delay of game — which holder Johnny Hekker said was his fault. Zuerlein tried again from 58 as Fisher played for the win, and missed wide right with 2:42 left in OT.
And just when it seemed the 49ers — and Akers‘ typically reliable left leg — would have one more chance to win it, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis was flagged for holding Lance Kendricks on third down. That extended St. Louis’ last drive, a costly mistake in a long list of them on an uncharacteristically sloppy day by coach Jim Harbaugh’s team.
“I don’t know what to make of this,” Willis said. “We have one of the best kickers in the game, and it came down to him at the end and he misses it. That tells you right there something wasn’t right.”
On the first play of OT, Bradford completed an 80-yard pass to Danny Amendola that took St. Louis (3-5-1) to the 2, but the play was called back for an illegal formation. Some 49ers fans got up to leave, then returned to their seats.
The last tie was between Philadelphia and Cincinnati, 13-13 in 2008. San Francisco played its first tie since 1986.
Frank Gore ran for a 20-yard touchdown with 8:23 to go in regulation just 17 seconds after backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick scurried 7 yards for a score. Kaepernick finished 11 for 17 for 117 yards and also had eight carries for 66 yards, calmly leading the Niners after it took several series to find his groove.
“It just feels like it’s unfinished business,” San Francisco cornerback Tarell Brown said.
Gore ran for 97 yards, while Michael Crabtree made five catches for 70 yards and a 14-yard touchdown from Smith before he left the game.
Amendola returned for the Rams following a three-game absence with a shoulder injury to make 11 catches for 102 yards. Bradford went 26 for 39 for 275 yards and two touchdowns.