Rams lose to 49ers in overtime for another losing season
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The St. Louis Rams were on a roll, having stayed in the Northern California wine country town of Napa between West Coast games poised to close the season on a four-game winning streak and avoid a losing record.
Dontae Johnson blocked that plan.
Johnson swatted Greg Zuerlein's 48-yard field goal attempt in overtime and San Francisco rallied to win on Phil Dawson's 23-yard field goal shortly after, lifting the 49ers to a 19-16 victory Sunday just before first-year coach Jim Tomsula was fired.
The announcement by the 49ers came about two hours after the game ended.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher finished 7-9 for his fourth straight losing season running the team and called it ''very disappointing.''
''We had numerous opportunities earlier in the year to win games, and we didn't get it done,'' he said. ''I'm all right with being 4-2 in the division. I'm not all right with some of the other losses.''
Now, the Rams will wait to learn what their future holds.
The biggest question facing the franchise: Will the Rams relocate to Los Angeles for the 2016 season?
''Until we know what's going on, there's no reason to discuss it,'' Fisher said. ''You just wait it out and see what happens. I've been through this before.''
After Zuerlein's miss, San Francisco the ball back with 4:49 to play in OT and the reliable Dawson delivered.
Zuerlein also saw a 52-yarder said wide right with 1:13 left in the third.
''Any time you don't go up and convert and do your job, you're not going to be happy about it,'' he said. ''Just because of the situation, I don't think it makes it any more or less significant.''
Case Keenum went 22 of 37 for 231 yards as St. Louis had its three-game winning streak snapped with the Rams trying for four consecutive victories for the first time since seven straight in 2003.
''It really wasn't about getting to 8-8,'' defensive end Chris Long said. ''Our goal this season was bigger than 8-8.''
Free agent to-be Dawson - who turns 41 later this month and wants to play an 18th season - also kicked a tying 38-yard field goal with 4:33 remaining in regulation.
St. Louis punted on its next possession. Then, after left guard Andrew Tiller's false start, Anquan Boldin caught a 27-yard pass with Blaine Gabbert under pressure late but San Francisco ended up punting from the 37 with 1:39 left.
The Rams are left to ponder what went wrong, especially during a five-game skid after beating the Niners 27-6 on Nov. 1 before the recent three-game winning streak.
''We wanted to finish out the season at .500 with this group of guys, so it was a big disappointment,'' defensive end Eugene Sims said. ''I've felt all season like we were a playoff team, but just had some bad bounces that put us in some bad situations.''
Before Dawson came through with his foot, reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the champion Golden State Warriors drew the biggest cheers of the day when shown on the big screen in the third quarter. He obliged with a wave and a smile.
Boldin knocked down cornerback Janoris Jenkins on his 33-yard TD catch 8 seconds into the second quarter. Dawson kicked a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 28-yarder in the third.
After seeing what happened to Zuerlein moments earlier in OT, Dawson wasn't counting on anything coming easily.
''I'm sure people were thinking, `Oh, it's just a no-brainer,' but I'm trotting out there thinking, `I've missed one shorter than this, we've given up a couple blocks this year,''' Dawson said. ''You know they're going to be bringing the heat. It's not a gimme.''
Gabbert passed for 354 yards and a 33-yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin for the 49ers (5-11), who avoided their worst finish since going 4-12 in 2005.
Late in the second quarter, Gabbert had a pass tipped by Aaron Donald and Sims made the interception and returned it 42 yards. Tre Mason ran for a 4-yard score two plays later.
Then in the waning minutes with a chance for a go-ahead touchdown on third-and-goal, Gabbert made an errant pitch backward to DuJuan Harris for a 12-yard loss before Harris pounced on the ball.
The Rams struggled without rookie running back Todd Gurley, sidelined with a foot injury. Mason carried 18 times for 44 yards and the Rams were held scoreless after halftime.
''Heartbreakers like that are tough,'' Keenum said. ''It's the last game of the season, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And now we're going to have that taste in our mouth the rest of the (year).''
NOTES: Rams LB Daren Bates suffered a knee injury. ... St. Louis TE Lance Kendricks caught all five of his targets.
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