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49ers look ahead after defeating Rams 34-31

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Santa Clara – An explosive game between two teams desperate for a win tonight.  A pick six put the 49ers ahead for first time in the game but a crucial turnover to start the second half gave the Los Angeles Rams momentum.  A field goal tied the game with 2 minutes left on the clock.  And Robbie Gould kicked the winning filed goal.  The NFC is a tight race for the playoffs, every win is important.  

The 49ers 34-31 victory over the Rams was the win they needed after coming off a loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week.  The final game of the regular season is against their rivals, the Seattle Seahawks.  The playoffs start with them, a team that handed San Francisco their first loss in overtime after going undefeated for eight games.

“Obviously, we had to beat the Los Angeles Rams for that game to matter and now that we beat the Rams, that will be a big-time game,” said Emmanuel Sanders regarding the Seahawks.  “I am looking forward to sitting at home and watching these guys play tomorrow, watching film, preparing all week and hopefully we can go out there and leave with a W.”

LA came out ready to play, on opening drive Jared Goff completed a seven play drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks for a quick 7-0 lead.  On the next drive, Richie James Jr. rushed for 81 yards on a punt return putting the 49ers in great field position.  Unable to get into the end zone, Gold kicked a 26-yard field goal making it a 7-3 game.  

Later in the quarter Jimmy Garoppolo went deep to Sanders but his pass was intercepted by Jalen Ramsey who returned it for 13 yards.  A crucial turnover for San Francisco led to a Rams touchdown.  Goff went deep to Cooper Kupp for 28 yards, moving the chains.  Then he rushed for 2 yards on a quarterback scramble, Richard Sherman was charged with a late hit.  

A penalty for unnecessary roughness put the Rams on the goal line to start the second quarter.  Todd Gurley rushed for the 5-yard touchdown to extend LA’s lead 14-3.  The 49ers went to their running game and scored quickly, Deebo Samuel rushed for a 19-yard touchdown to make it a 14-10 game.  Late in the second, Gurley recorded his second touchdown of the game when he rushed for a 1-yard touchdown extending the Rams lead 21-10.  

“I think we made some adjustments on that which I think was definitely needed,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said.  “From what I saw in the second half, it looked like we slowed them down a number of times on those roll outs.  They had a good plan for us, we were playing sound in the run game and when you play sound in the run game that’s usually what you give up, the bootlegs and things like that.  We had to make a few adjustments and they had a good plan, but I think we were able to slow it down enough in the second half.”

San Francisco keep it a competitive and scored with 2:21 left in the first half.  Raheem Mostert rushed for a 16-yard touchdown making it a 21-17 game.  A crucial turnover to end the half for the Rams, Goff’s pass intended for Malcolm Brown was picked off by Fred Warner who rushed it back for a 46-yard touchdown to give San Francisco their first lead of the game making it a 24-21. 

“Yeah, honestly, I just did my job,” said Mostert.  “We were in man coverage and the back kind of, he checked in the protection and then ran a flat route.  I hugged up on him and I think [Los Angeles Rams QB] Jared [Goff] probably would want to have that one back, but he just tossed it up and I took it. I took it home.”

To start the third, San Francisco committed another turnover but it didn’t prove to costly, Garoppolo’s intended pass for Sanders was intercepted by Darious Williams.  LA struggled to move the ball and Greg Zuerlein missed a 52-yard field goal.  Goff made up for it when he connected with Kupp for a 22-yard touchdown giving the Rams a 28-24 lead.  By the fourth, Garoppolo went deep to both George Kittle and Sanders for 36 to setup Kittle’s 7-yard touchdown making it 31-28 game with 6:06 left on the clock.  

Another field goal attempt by Zuerlein for 52-yards tied the game 31-31.  Despite getting sacked for the fifth time, Garoppolo went deep to Sanders for 46 yards with less than a minute to play.  That play was enough to take a knee and run the clock for Gould to come in and kick a 33-yard field goal for the win.  This win wasn’t just about playoff position.  One of their own is hurting.  Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard lost his younger brother who was fatally stabbed in a fight early Saturday morning in Nashville. And the team won this for him.

“Before we start, I just want to say how much we appreciate the Beathard family,” Shanahan saais.  “What happened last night was very tough on [QB] C.J. [Beathard] and his family.  It was a tragedy.  Such a great family.  We’ve been with C.J. here for three years.  He’s as good as any person I’ve been around.  Their family is unbelievable.  I never got a chance to meet Clay, but knowing how his parents are, knowing how C.J. is, knowing the stuff they’ve told me about him, he was an unbelievably special person.  Just our hearts and prayers are out with them.  His dad reached out to us on text just about how great everyone has been on social media and just the respect everyone has given their family and stuff, he can’t appreciate it enough.  I think everyone understands how horrible a thing that happened to their family last night. Our prayers are with them.”

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Mahomes, Chiefs rally late to win Super Bowl LIV

Saskia Hatvany

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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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