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49ers erase a 14-point halftime deficit to beat the Rams and make the playoffs

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The 49ers' defense won on early downs to open the game. They forced the Rams in a 3rd & 9, 3rd & 12, and 3rd & 6. Odell Beckham Jr. made a fantastic catch with Emmanuel Moseley draped all over him.

On the next third down, Dontae Johnson found himself on Cooper Kupp. As you might imagine, that didn’t end in Johnson’s favor. Kupp gained 46 yards on the play.

An Arik Armstead and Arden Key sack on the final third down of the drive forced the Rams to kick a field goal to make the score 3-0.

The special teams looked like their usual self. A holding call backed the offense up inside of the 10-yard line on the first kickoff return. That was on JaMycal Hasty. Deebo Samuel would return the next kick. Then, the punt team gave up a 31-yard return to set up a short field for the Rams' offense. Tyler Higbee scored on a 15-yard fade over Ambry Thomas to give Los Angeles a 17-0 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, the 49ers had -3 total yards compared to the Rams' 136. Jimmy Garoppolo’s thumb appeared to be the reason he fumbled, which stalled the drive. After that, the 49ers couldn’t do much of anything on offense, and the Rams knew it.

On their third drive, the 49ers reached midfield and decided to take a shot play. Garoppolo felt pressure, and that caused him to airmail a throw that led to an interception. The offense desperately needed to come up with points before the half but fell short.

The defense had chances on the ensuing drive to get off the field, but the secondary couldn’t hold up. Kupp on Johnson was arguably the biggest mismatch of the day. Moseley gave up an easy slant to Beckham Jr., and Thomas had already given up a score.

Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead split a sack to give the ball back to the offense with 45 seconds remaining.

Before the two-minute drive, Garoppolo was 5-for-7 for 29 yards with an average of 4.1 yards, two sacks, and an interception. They had a chance with two timeouts remaining. Instead, Aiyuk caught a 26-yarder to put the Niners into field goal range, where Robbie Gould made a kick from 42 yards out to make the score 17-3.

Garoppolo found Hasty on a 3rd & 3, then Aiyuk wide open for 31 yards to start the half. That gave the 49ers the ball inside the Rams' 20-yard line after George Kittle caught a six-yard pass. That brought us to 3rd & 2.

Instead of sitting back and playing coverage, DeMeco Ryans got back to his roots and blitzed. Stafford wasn’t ready and threw an errant pass. The 49ers got off the field on third down!

The 49ers converted a third down and found themselves at midfield once again. They ran the ball ten times in a row before Deebo. Samuel found Jauan Jennings on a double pass to tie the game.

That drive summed up how the 49ers want to play football. Impose their will on you, then catch the defense napping with a play-action, or, in this case, a trick play.

The defense stepped it up in a big way. The pass rush woke up. Emmanuel Moseley had an interception. Drives started to end in sacks. The Rams have 12 plays for 12 yards on three drives this half. The 49ers’ defense has been incredible. They’re definitely feeding off the energy of the crowd.

The offense had the ball once again, with the score tied at 17 with just over 12 minutes to play. Deebo Samuel took a screen pass 32 yards after breaking three tackles. The Rams looked like a team that had no interest in tackling Samue. That gave the Niners the ball in Rams territory.

Jimmy G found Aiyuk on third down to convert. Unfortunately, a penalty on Daniel Brunskill put the team behind the sticks. Garoppolo targeted Kittle on 2nd & 14 in triple coverage. One of those players was Jalen Ramsey, who made an acrobatic interception.

It felt like the ballgame had the 49ers scored. Those are the turnovers you can’t have if you want to be considered a playoff team.

The defense had a chance to get off the field on third down. Arden Key pressured Stafford, but he threw it perfectly to Kupp for a gain of 30 yards. Dre Greenlaw had a personal foul where he grabbed Cam Akers by the facemask to give Los Angeles the ball inside of the red zone.

On 3rd & 4, Stafford found Kupp in the end zone to give the Rams a 24-17 lead. Kupp beat Ward on a corner route. Stafford and Kupp’s chemistry all game was flawless.

Instead of marching down the field, the offense went in the opposite direction. Colton McKivitz was beaten in pass protection, which led to a sack on 3rd & 18. The defense did their job and gave the ball back to the offense.

The 49ers took over on the 12-yard line with 1:27 to play. A 55-yard pass to Deebo and an offside gave the 49ers the ball with 35 seconds to play. As he usually does, Samuel broke tackles, zig-zagged across the field, and found daylight.

I couldn’t tell if Samuel dropped the first down throw or if Jimmy sailed it. Either way, it was incomplete. Jimmy found Jennings on a crossing route, and the 49ers tied the game at 24. Unbelievable. They went 88 yards in five plays in a minute to score.

The Niners won the toss in overtime and received the kick. However, after Brunskill was flagged for a holding call, they found themselves behind the chains in a 2nd & 12 situation. On 3rd & 6, Garoppolo finds Jennings on an out route for a gain of 34 yards. That gave the Niners the ball at the 26-yard line of the Rams.

It came down to a 3rd & 3 from the 17-yard line. Jennings, on a similar play as the one above, converted. A throw to Kittle was short of the sticks, which forced a 26-yard field goal from Gould. The kick was good to give the Niners a 27-24 win.

The Rams had 2:39 to tie or take the lead. Their drive was kept alive after Moseley was flagged for a pass interference on third down. Ambry Thomas ended the game with an interception.

This was undoubtedly one of the best games you’ll ever see. The 49ers showed resolve and heart to come back and beat a tough team.

See you next week in Dallas.