Kaeper­nick con­jures Fran-tas­tic fi­nale

Quar­ter­back’s late show robs Rams to snap lousy los­ing streak in style

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

Colin Kaeper­nick knew how Chip Kelly was think­ing.

Ev­ery­one on the San Fran­cisco 49ers knew what the first-year head coach was think­ing as the of­fense took the field with 3:10 left in the fourth quar­ter.

Score a touch­down, go for 2 — and end a 13-game los­ing streak.

“What else did we have to lose?” cor­ner­back Rashard Robin­son said.

Kaeper­nick threw a 10-yard touch­down pass with 31 sec­onds re­main­ing and scram­bled for a 2-point con­ver­sion and the 49ers over­came a 14-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Rams 22-21 on Satur­day.

Kaeper­nick rolled to his right while look­ing for a re­ceiver be­fore tuck­ing the ball and bar­rel­ing into the end zone. That gave the 49ers a sweep in the re­newal of the in­state ri­valry with the Rams’ re­turn to Los Angeles this sea­son.

“The play he called was a play I think ev­ery­body on our of­fense knew was go­ing to get called, we had great con­fi­dence in, and it worked out for us,” Kaeper­nick said.

“It felt amaz­ing, a feel­ing this team has been look­ing for for a long time now. It is some­thing this team can build on.”

Kaeper­nick threw for 257 yards, two touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion, and rushed for a score (2-13).

Kaeper­nick found Rod Streater on a slant pat­tern to cap a 10-play, 73-yard drive to make it 21-20. Streater had six re­cep­tions for 63 yards.

Jared Goff was in­ter­cepted by Robin­son with 16 sec­onds left as the Rams squan­dered a late two-score lead for the sec­ond time in their past three home games.

Goff, the No 1 over­all draft pick, has lost all six starts for Los Angeles (4-11).

With Goff and the worst of­fense in the NFL un­able to main­tain a fast start against the 49ers’ league-worst de­fense, it still ap­peared the Rams could rely on a strong pass rush and spe­cial teams to pick up their sec­ond home win.

Punter Johnny Hekker had five punts downed in­side the 20-yard line, set­ting a sin­gle­sea­son record in that cat­e­gory. Aaron Don­ald, Do­minique Easley, Eu­gene Sims and Blake Count­ess sacked Kaeper­nick.

How­ever, a re­con­fig­ured of­fen­sive line for the 49ers, al­ready play­ing with­out left tackle Joe Sta­ley and cen­ter Mar­cus Martin be­fore right guard Joshua Gar­nett suf­fered a fin­ger in­jury in the first half, gave Kaeper­nick time to op­er­ate on those fi­nal two drives.

The San Fran­cisco de­fense was even more tena­cious, lim­it­ing Todd Gur­ley to 67 yards and forc­ing a three-and-out to get the ball back to Kaeper­nick for one last pos­ses­sion.

“What you saw to­day is what we see ev­ery day,” Kelly said. “There is an en­ergy and a spirit to them in terms of how they prac­tice and how they train.

“They have not come up on the right side of things, but that doesn’t mean they let that af­fect them.”

Goff was 11 of 24 for 90 yards, find­ing Tyler Hig­bee for a 2-yard touch­down in the fourth quar­ter. He threw his first in­ter­cep­tion on the Rams’ first pos­ses­sion, star­ing down Kenny Britt and al­low­ing cor­ner­back Tra­maine Brock to eas­ily step in front of the re­ceiver.

Brock re­turned it 38 yards to the Rams’ 17 and set up a 19-yard touch­down pass from Kaeper­nick to Car­los Hyde. The San Fran­cisco run­ning back ran out of the back­field to catch just past the line of scrim­mage and darted up the mid­dle un­touched.

Kaeper­nick also had a 13-yard touch­down run, mak­ing it 21-14 with 5:06 re­main­ing.

“The last few pos­ses­sions, it seemed like we gave up,” Rams cor­ner­back Tru­maine John­son said. “The whole team, in­clud­ing my­self.”

The pro­fes­sional

Kaeper­nick and Kelly praised of­fen­sive line­man Zane Bea­dles for steady­ing the of­fen­sive line, as the sev­en­thyear vet­eran moved from left guard to cen­ter in place of Martin.

Bea­dles also de­liv­ered a fiery ser­mon on the side­line be­fore the 49ers’ last two drives, pos­ses­sions where the of­fense gained 147 of their 323 yards.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what po­si­tion he’s put in, what the cir­cum­stances are, he is go­ing to step in and do his job,” Kaeper­nick said. “To move to cen­ter and also be able to di­rect traf­fic and do an amaz­ing job of that just step­ping in re­ally speaks to the kind of player he is.”

First prize

The Rams had not scored a first-quar­ter touch­down in their pre­vi­ous three games, and had just three touch­downs in the first since Goff re­placed Case Keenum as start­ing quar­ter­back.

But the Rams fin­ished with 177 yards, in­clud­ing 65 in the fi­nal three quar­ters.

The Oak­land Raiders held on for a 33-25 vic­tory over the In­di­anapo­lis Colts on Satur­day at Oak­land Coli­seum, but the win came at a huge cost.

Raiders quar­ter­back Derek Carr, who threw three touch­down passes, left the game in the fourth quar­ter af­ter break­ing his right fibula on a sack by Colts line­backer Trent Cole.

Carr was carted to the locker room as backup Matt McGloin took over with the Raiders lead­ing 33-14.

His in­jury oc­curred hours af­ter an­other quar­ter­back, Mar­cus Mar­i­ota of the Ten­nessee Ti­tans, also sus­tained a frac­tured fibula.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Carr was due to have surgery im­me­di­ately, which would al­most cer­tainly rule him out of the post­sea­son.

“It was a good win but a tough set­back to have our quar­ter­back go down like that,” a somber Del Rio said.

“Un­for­tu­nate. It’s ob­vi­ously is a blow. Teams have to find a way to pick up and move on. We’ll rally around the next guy as best we can.

“Ev­ery­body heals dif­fer­ently. We’ll see ex­actly what needs to be done when they get in there

SEAN M. HAFFEY / AFP

Colin Kaeper­nick of the San Fran­cisco 49ers rushes for a 13-yard touch­down de­spite the ef­forts of the Los Angeles Rams’ Alec Ogle­tree dur­ing the fourth quar­ter of the NFL game at Los Angeles Memo­rial Coli­seum on Satur­day.

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