ended a sloppy, disgusting game by kicking the winning Field Goal with under a minute to play in OT. The other time, the teams played to a sloppy, disgusting Tie Game on a watershed afternoon that saw Colin Kaepernick officially take the reins as starting Quarterback for the 49ers. The 0-1-1 record that the 49ers had against an inferior Rams team could have been ruinous, but they managed to get their act together.
Yesterday, the 49ers played the Rams in a game rather reminiscent of those two particular shit shows. The 49ers, who've been irritatingly inconsistent all season, had perhaps their biggest stinker of the season, blowing an opportunity to at worst tie the game in the closing seconds and losing a head-scratcher of a game 13-10. The game drops their record to a mediocre 4-4, drops them 3 games behind the high-flying Cardinals in the NFC West standings, continues to open up all sorts of questions about where this team is going and really throws their chances for a return to the playoffs in doubt. Colin Kaepernick, who was sacked 8 times behind a patchwork Offensive Line, was in position to punch the ball in for the winning score with under :05 seconds to play, but in a pileup was ruled to have Fumbled the ball away to the Rams. The game wasn't on in New York and I was out most of the day anyway, so by time I got home and knew the result of the game, I was a bit too disgusted to look at a replay right away to figure out what happened. Eventually, I did look at it, but whatever it was was too inconclusive to figure out one way or the other, and besides, what's done is done.
There isn't too much in the way of breaking things down that I can do with a game like this. It reminds me somewhat of the game they played against Carolina at home last year, where they kind of played a slow-moving, frustrating game where things were close all game, but then something weird happened late, the 49ers found themselves behind and ultimately sealed their fate with a late turnover. The 49ers and Rams traded Field Goals in the 1st Quarter and Touchdowns in the 2nd Quarter—a Kaepernick to Anquan Boldin TD was countered by an Austin Davis to Kenny Britt score with seconds remaining in the half—but the second half basically dissolved into an exchange of sacks and punts, and only when a punt was shanked by Andy Lee did the Rams seize an opportunity and kick a Field Goal with 5:30 to play in the game. The teams again traded punts until the 49ers took over with 3:11 to go and only then, after pretty much rolling in neutral all afternoon, did the 49ers offense actually wake up and try to do something. Kaepernick hit Stevie Johnson and Anquan Boldin multiple times for long gains, and a pass interference penalty on Michael Crabtree set the 49ers up inside the 5-yard line with a chance to win. But as has been the 49ers problem in these instances, with 1st and goal to go in a winning situation, somehow the play calling goes south and the 49ers end up standing still. Passes to Crabtree and Frank Gore couldn't finish the deal, and then came Kaepernick's ill-fated sneak, a hero's move by Jim Harbaugh that ultimately ended up biting him in the ass, ending in disaster and leaving the pundits to wonder why he didn't just kick the Field Goal and take his chances in Overtime.
This is the sort of game that can leave you scratching your head for weeks, particularly if the 49ers don't rebound or end up in a situation where they miss the Playoffs by a game. A second straight loss in which Kaepernick took a real beating and couldn't find any kind of a decent rhythm, and in which the running game couldn't get on track is a bad sign going forward. The questions about whether or not this team is beginning to fracture still remains, particularly as they sit at .500 and fully immersed in "season from hell" mode. Every game seems to have been a struggle to this point, and with two road games coming up at New Orleans and at the Giants, it doesn't look like it's going to get any easier anytime soon and, because these things can spiral out of control so quickly, you can't help but wonder just where this season is going right now.