Kaepernick conjures Fran-tastic finale
Quarterback’s late show robs Rams to snap lousy losing streak in style
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.”
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.”
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
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.