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Santa Clara – Things just keep getting worse for the Forty-Niners. After blowing a huge lead the San Diego Chargers fought back and tied the game to force an overtime and came away with the 38-35 victory over San Francisco. Nick Novak’s 40-yard field goal sealed their win in OT. The 49ers suffered their fourth straight loss and blew another lead when scoring 21 or more points at halftime.

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“As a team, we didn’t finish it,” said San Francisco’s head coach Jim Harbaugh. “Up 28-7 at one point, but guys were fighting. San Diego did a heck of a job. Tremendous comeback.”

 

The 49ers made it look easy in the first half, they went up 21-0 by the start of the second quarter. Frank Gore scored on the first series by rushing for a 52-yard touchdown. He rushed a total 158 yards on 26 carries which is the fifth most rushing yards in a single game in his career. Gore had 129 yards on 14 carries in the first half.

 

“My whole offensive line was there,” Gore said. “All year, we missed one guy here, one guy there. I think that is what the problem has been (all year). My O-Line dominated their D-line tonight.”

 

San Francisco used their running game early and it was successful. Gore had more yards tonight than in the last four games. Colin Kaepernick also recorded 151 yards on 7 carries. Looking like Kaepernick of last season, he scored a touchdown on a 90-yard run which is the second longest in the franchise history. Running back Garrison Hearst rushed for a 96 yard touchdown in 1998.

 

The only other quarterback to rush for more than 90-yards in the NFL was Terrelle Pryor last year against Pittsburg on October 27, 2013. Kaepernick finished the night rushing the most yards for a quarterback in a single game in NFL history (regular season). But the individual accolades wasn’t enough to pull out the win.

 

“That’s a grown man performance right there,” said Kaepernick on Gore’s performance. “Coming off a concussion we weren’t sure if he was going to play or not. He said, ‘I want to go out and fight with you all. I’m not going to leave you all out there by yourselves.’ And to come out and play the way he did and give this offense that life was huge.”

 

Kaepernick found Bruce Ellington for an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter and Anotine Bethea’s pick 6 on a 49-yard touchdown gave San Francisco a 21-0 lead. Philip Rivers threw three interceptions, one of those was Bethea’s first career touchdown. But the Chargers got on the board when Rivers connected with Eddie Royal for a 15-yard touchdown right before the half ended.

 

Rivers threw three more touchdowns in the second half to close the gap. He found Antonio Gates for a 1-yard and 21-yard touchdown. Then Rivers connected with Malcolm Floyd in the fourth for an 11-yard touchdown to tie the game with 3 minutes left in regulation. Forcing an overtime, the 49ers had no idea they would see their lead slip away.

 

“I can’t, it’s just tough,” said Bethea. “Come out strong and just fizzle out in the second half. You really can’t put your finger on what it was, just one of those years. It’s a tough year.”

 

Despite a team record of rushing 355 yards, which included Kaepernick’s 90-yard touchdown, could help San Francisco’s struggles. After being eliminated from the playoffs last week, the 49ers practically gave the game away with penalties and turnovers.

 

“We had three turnovers and that was really the difference of the game,” Kaepernick said.

 

Kaepernick’s fumble that Corey Liuget recovered in the end zone for the touchdown might’ve been the biggest one outside of Joe Staley’s two penalties that negated Aquan Boldin’s touchdown in the first quarter. San Diego’s defense dismantled a struggling offense to save their season in hopes of making a playoff run. Rivers comeback in the fourth is something Kaepernick has yet to do this season.

 

“At halftime, we didn’t know if we could come all the way back,” said Rivers. “Look we didn’t know if we could win the game or not but we were going to fight like crazy, that’s who we are.”

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Mahomes, Chiefs rally late to win Super Bowl LIV

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Miami – Three late touchdowns in the fourth quarter by the Kansas City Chiefs stunned the Forty-Niners in what was the best comeback victory in Super Bowl history.  The 49ers defense smothered the Chiefs offense in the third quarter, shut down in the fourth San Francisco appeared to have celebrated too soon.

Crucial mistakes this time proved costly as the 49ers suffered a tough 31-20 loss to Kansas City who are now the Super Bowl Champs for the first time in 50 years.  Patrick Mahomes was named the MVP after leading his team to victory. 

“I just tried to fight, and obviously the third quarter didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” said Maohmes.  “I tried to force some things and had some turnovers.  I mean, that’s a really good defense, and so I didn’t play to my liking in that third quarter, but guys believed in me and gave me confidence.  We kept fighting and we found ways to win it in the end.”

San Francisco had a good lead to start the second half.  But the Chiefs are known for their epic comebacks late in the game.  With 6:30 left on the clock, a pass interference called on Tarvarius Moore came after Mahomes went deep to Travis Kelce on a 43 yards pass.

That setup Kelce’s 1-yard touchdown making it a 20-17 game.  Unable to score on the next drive, Kansas City scored their second touchdown, Mahomes connected with Damien Williams for a 5-yard touchdown, that play gave the Chiefs their first lead of the night.  At the two-minute warning the 49ers had a chance to turn things around, but three incomplete passes followed with a sack on Jimmy Garoppolo on 4th down.

Kansas City got the ball back, Williams rushed for 4 yards before Kyle Shanahan took a timeout.  Williams then rushed for a 38-yard touchdown to secure the Chiefs win.  San Francisco’s offense and defense collapsed in the fourth quarter leaving the team dejected as Kansas City began to celebrate. 

“I think the turning point was when we got a turnover and then we didn’t execute on offense and they got the ball right back and drove 87 yards or however how far it was,” TE George Kittle said.  “As an offense, we have to end the game right there, and we didn’t.”

Garoppolo threw his second interception to end the game.  The 49ers registered two interceptions on the night, with Fred Warner and Moore each but against a dominant Chiefs defense it just wasn’t enough.  San Francisco finished the 2019 postseason with 5 interceptions, which is tied for the 4th most in a single postseason in franchise history.

The 49ers seemed to have everything under control until the six-minute mark in the fourth quarter.  Both teams scored and kicked a field goal to end the half tied at 10-10.  After Samuel rushed for 32 yards, Robbie Gould kicked a 38-yard field goal for a quick 3-0 lead.  

Mahomes scrambled for 2 yards in the red zone, then rushed in for a 1-yard touchdown making it a 7-3 game. By the second, Garoppolo’s pass intended for Samuel was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland.  That setup Harrison Butker’s 31-yard field goal to extend the Chiefs lead to 10-3.  

Garoppolo then connected with Samuel for 16 yards before San Francisco went to the running game, Raheem Mostert rushed for 11 yards and Tevin Coleman rushed for 17 yards.  Garoppolo found a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk who rushed into the end zone for 15-yard touchdown to tie the game 10-10.

To start the third Gould kicked a 42-yard field goal giving the 49ers a 13-10 lead.  After Mahomes pass was blocked by Nick Bosa, who almost forced a fumble, Mahomes went deep to Tyreek Hill but his pass was intercepted by Warner.  That setup Mostert’s 1-yard touchdown extending their lead 20-10.  San Francisco did not score again after that play.

“It definitely hurts, FB Juszczyk said.  “At the end of the day, that’s exactly the position we wanted to be in.  So, I think that makes it hurt a little bit more, but you couldn’t have asked to be in a better situation.”

Before the game, there was an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant and those who lost their lives in the helicopter crash last Sunday.  Both NFL teams lined up on the 24 yard line to honor all nine victims killed in that crash that included NBA great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant.  The NFL also honored their own, Hall of Famer Chris Dolan who lost his battle with Cancer.

Photos by Malaika Bobino

 

The NFL then honored 100 years in football with the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game along with defense, offense, coaches, dynasty teams and those who you might not remember but made an impact as well.

 

 

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The 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl after dominating the Packers 37-20

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Santa Clara – The 49ers have punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.  After a dominating first half, it was clear only one team showed up to play.  Raheem Mostert scored four touchdowns, San Francisco’s defense forced three turnovers and Richard Sherman’s interception in the final minutes was the icing on the cake.  The running game was unstoppable and the reward, a trip to Miami for Super Bowl Fifty-Four.

“Still surreal. You know, I just — I can’t believe that I’m in this position right now and I did the things that I did tonight,” said Mostert.  “And I would like to thank God first and foremost for blessing not only myself but everybody in the organization to be in the position that we’re in, to get the win and to move on to Miami, my home state.  And I can’t believe it.  I’m still being able to play at my home state.  This is so surreal right now.”

The 49ers 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers was well deserved.  A phenomenal season where the team went undefeated through eight games before they recorded their first lost to the Seattle Seahawks.  Now, they return to the Super Bowl after a rebuilding period during the Jim Harbaugh years.  Harbaugh took San Francisco to the Super Bowl back in 2012 where he lost 34-31 to his brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens. 

“This is like everybody coming to work,” T Joe Staley said.  “The attitude that everybody has every single day.  There are no egos.  Everybody generally pulls for each other.  No one cares about what credit that they get. [49ers QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] doesn’t care if he throws for 300 yards or what did he pass today for 50-60?  He doesn’t care and same with the running backs.  [49ers TE George] Kittle is a superstar and he could care less about his stats.  Top to bottom everybody just wants to pull for each other and win.  It is just a special bunch.”

A special bunch indeed, the chemistry on this team began in preseason and became stronger with each game.  Almost every game, the team gave it their all.  Tonight, the offense rushed for 285 yards and 4 touchdowns on 42 attempts.  The team’s 285 total rushing yards were the second most in postseason franchise history, and the 6th most by any team in the postseason since 1970.  

Mostert finished with 29 carries for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns, marking the first postseason rushing touchdowns of his career.  Mostert 220 rushing yards, set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a game, regular season or postseason.  HIs 220 rushing yards are the 2nd most in a postseason game in the Super Bowl era [LA Rams running back Eric Dickerson – 248 yards vs Dallas Cowboys (1/4/86 – NFC Divisional game)] and his 4 rushing touchdown are tied for 2nd most in a Super Bowl era.

“The lanes that we saw and the way he was running, just wanted to keep feeding him,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. Raheem is not someone who is going to come up and tell me a bunch during the game. I know he was feeling it and it wasn’t too hard to see.”

The 49ers got off to a rocky start after going with their running game on opening drive.  Tevin Coleman had 5 attempts for 17 yards but the Packers forced them to punt.  On the next drive, the 49ers went with their passing game before Jimmy Garoppolo handed off a pass to Mostert for a 36-yard touchdown.  Green Bay’s offense completely collapsed in the first, Nick Bosa recorded the first sack on Aaron Rodgers. 

“Not getting that first third down didn’t quite help for sure,” Rodgers said. “We just weren’t very consistent in the first half. I made a couple of mistakes, personally, that hurt us. We kind of let it get away from us.”

[On the botched snap] “It didn’t help. We could’ve cut that to two scores there at a minimum. It was like the fourth down snap the first time we played them. It was a big turning point.”

DeForest Buckner recovered Rodgers fumble and that led to Robbie Gould’s second field goal making it a 20-0 game to start the second quarter.  Another turnover proved costly for Green Bay.  Rodgers pass was intended for Geronimo Allison, but Emmanuel Mosley intercepted the ball.  With 50 seconds left on the clock, Mostert rushed for an 18-yard touchdown to end the half with the 49ers leading 27-0.

By the third, the Packers came alive with Rodgers connecting with Aaron Jones for a 9-yard touchdown.  Jones also rushed up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown giving Green Bay another scored run.  Rodgers then went deep in the fourth to Jimmy Graham for a 43-yard touchdown making it a 34-20 game.  But Green Bay couldn’t stop Mostert’s fourth touchdown  that extended San Francisco’s lead 34-7.  And Gould’s 42-yard field goal was the final score to cap off an outstanding victory.

“I think you go back to OTAs, man,” Said Buckner.  We all knew we could be a special group, a special team this year.  And just seeing the guys work, work through a lot of things from OTAs, to training camp and preseason.  The guys just fed off of each other, you know what I mean?  Offense, defense special teams, everybody.  We’ve got a lot of selfless guys playing for each other.  That’s the key ingredient being able to play for your brother next to you, no matter what happens.  Doesn’t matter who gets the stats or anything.  We’re just trying to go out there and win football games and I think we have a really special group.”

“Yeah, I mean we keep it fun,” Sherman said.  “We keep it loose.  There were a few people that came in our locker room for the first time throughout the week and they were like, ‘Man, this is the loosest locker room.’ You would think this is a winning team.  But, that’s the difference. That’s the difference when you’re confident, when you know what you’re playing for, when you know what you’re doing, when you’re locked in.  

You don’t have to sit there serious and worry and sit there with anxiety.  You can enjoy, let your hair down because you know you’re putting the work in.  You put the work in every single day and you’re prepared.  Now, when you’re not prepared and you’re nervous, you sit there locked in, quiet.  No music in the locker room.  Let’s be locked in.  But, that’s not our team.  We have a bunch of guys who enjoy this game and play it in a way that brings us a lot of joy, the receiving corps especially.  They’re a fun group and they’re enjoying the ride, but they’re still locked in.  They’re making huge plays.”

Super Bowl LIV is set for February 2, 2020 at 3:30 pm PST at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

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