“A tie is like kissing your sister.” – Eddie Erdelatz, Navy coach 1953
The San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams got the first NFL tie since 2008 after knotting up 24 all. Same as it was in 1953; it felt unfulfilling for both teams. In a way, it was still a win for the 49ers, even though it still feels like a loss.
A rash of concussions befell three NFC quarterbacks on Sunday.
The Eagles’ Michael Vick was once again left unprotected and was pulled after two hard hits in a row. The Eagles went on to lose.
The Bears’ Jay Cutler let himself get exposed in the middle of the field and got his clock destroyed. The Bears went on to lose.
The 49ers’ Alex Smith took three hard hits in a matter of a few plays, including a fourth-and-one keeper. The 49ers went on to NOT lose.
That has to count for something.
There was also plenty to be upset about.
The 49ers played lethargic at times, especially on defense. The San Francisco faithful were hoping to complete a sweep of division rivals after beating the Seahawks and Cardinals in the previous two weeks. A win over the 3-5 Rams would have given the 49ers a solid standing in first place. Instead, they are in a virtual lock with the Seahawks, with each having six wins (the Monday Night replacement ref TD showing its impact once again).
There was plenty to be pleased about. The Rams have been brutal against quarterbacks this season. While their offense hasn’t always been stellar, their defense has kept them competitive. Losing a quarterback in the first half of a game typically ends in a loss (see Bears and Eagles). Frank Gore’s legs kept them going strong averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree seems to be finally in his groove.
Give credit to coach Jim Harbaugh. He has sprinkled backup QB Colin Kaepernick into games all season. While many fans have seen it as a sign of distrust in Alex Smith, an ex-college coach knows about preparing the next in line signal caller.
While the Bears’ Jason Campbell and Eagles’ Nick Foles played to losses with a limited playbook and showing signs of disconnect, Kaepernick fared much better. Campbell and Foles have had a combined one passing attempt combined between them this season before Sunday; Kaepernick has been in five games and attempted nine passes. BIG difference.
One example of Kaepernick’s recent experience being helpful was in rushing. When brought in earlier games, he showed himself very adept at scrambling. On Sunday, he had a great seven-yard run and dive for a TD. On the day, he went 11-17 for 117 yards. While the offensive line didn’t protect him much better as he took three sacks, he didn’t throw any interceptions. He played prepared.
So, all in all, a tie is appropriate. The 49ers didn’t play well enough for a victory, but they prepared well enough not to lose.
Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch and at www.facebookcom/craveonlinesports.com.
Photo Credit: Zumapress/Icon SMI