49ers' reconfigured offensive line fuels rally vs. Rams
LOS ANGELES (AP) A healthy offensive line is likely to have trouble with Pro Bowler Aaron Donald and the rest of the Los Angeles Rams' defensive line.
Blocking Donald and crew with an injured and reconfigured front five was a daunting task for the San Francisco 49ers, and it played out that way for the first 49:28 of a game Saturday at the Coliseum.
But with a chance to snap the team's 13-game losing streak, the 49ers' offensive line rallied around Zane Beadles and paved the way for an improbable 22-21 comeback win.
''I think it helps build confidence that regardless of circumstances, we can go out there and get wins and do it against a very talented defense,'' quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. ''They have one of the best fronts in the NFL. The fact that we had some offensive line players moving around, some new guys in there, and they came out and held their own is huge and something we can build on.''
The 49ers (2-13) were without left tackle Joe Staley because of a hamstring injury and center Marcus Martin because of an ankle issue, and things got worse in the second quarter when rookie right guard Joshua Garnett exited with a finger injury. That forced left guard Beadles to move to center and rookie Alex Balducci into the game at guard.
Beadles, a seventh-year veteran out of Utah, delivered a fiery sermon on the sideline before the 49ers' last two drives, possessions where the offense gained 147 of their 323 yards in the game.
''It doesn't matter what position he's put in, what the circumstances are, he is going to step in and do his job,'' Kaepernick said. ''To move to center and also be able to direct traffic and do an amazing job of that, just stepping in, really speaks to the kind of player he is.''
With some time to finally operate, Kaepernick showed flashes of what everyone thought he could do in coach Chip Kelly's spread offense, culminating in a run-pass option on the winning two-point conversion.
Kaepernick rolled to his right while looking for a receiver before tucking the ball and barreling into the end zone. That gave the 49ers a sweep in the renewal of the instate rivalry with the Rams (4-11).
''The play he called was a play I think everybody on our offense knew was going to get called, we had great confidence in, and it worked out for us,'' Kaepernick said. ''It felt amazing, a feeling this team has been looking for for a long time now. It is something this team can build on.''
Here are some other notables from the game.
KAP'S ROLE IN THE RALLY
Kaepernick threw for 257 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and the encouraging finish is a big takeaway near the end of a trying season in San Francisco.
The quarterback found Rod Streater on a slant pattern to cap a 10-play, 73-yard drive to make it 21-20 before punching in the key 2-point conversion.
Kaepernick also had a 13-yard touchdown run, making it 21-14 with 5:06 remaining.
Streater had six receptions for 63 yards.
ANOTHER ROOKIE BUMP
Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall draft pick, has lost all six of his starts for Los Angeles.
He was intercepted by Rashard Robinson with 16 seconds left as the Rams squandered a late two-score lead for the second time in their past three home games.
Goff was 11 of 24 for 90 yards, finding Tyler Higbee for a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. He threw his first interception on the Rams' first possession, staring down Kenny Britt and allowing cornerback Tramaine Brock to easily step in front of the receiver.
Brock returned it 38 yards to the Rams 17 and set up a 19-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to Carlos Hyde. Hyde ran out of the backfield to catch the ball just past the line of scrimmage and darted up the middle of the field untouched.
NO HELP ON `D'
With Goff and the worst offense in the NFL unable to maintain a fast start against the 49ers' league-worst defense, it still appeared the Rams could rely on a strong pass rush. That is, until the 49ers staged a shocking late rally.
''The last few possessions, it seemed like we gave up,'' Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson said. ''The whole team, including myself.''
SAN FRAN'S STAND
The 49ers limited Todd Gurley to 67 yards rushing and forced a three-and-out to get the ball back to Kaepernick for one last possession.
''What you saw today is what we see every day,'' Kelly said. ''There is an energy and a spirit to them in terms of how they practice and how they train. They have not come up on the right side of things, but that doesn't mean they let that affect them.''
LIMPING TO THE FINISH
Hyde lost a fumble to set up the Rams' final TD, then left for the game after injuring his knee on the play. Kelly did not immediately know the extent of the injury. Britt exited in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Britt had one reception for 15 yards, topping the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his eight-year career.