The 49ers have officially clinched a playoff berth following their 27-24 win over the Rams.
Exhale, 49ers fans. Your team did it. And of course they needed to squeeze as much time out of a game toward the end to make it. Kind of like they did in 2019 against the Seahawks.
This game was a tale of two halves for the 49ers. In the first half they were completely out of it. Defensively, they did not start out as strong as they have been. The Rams were able to move the ball effectively against them. It also helped that Matthew Stafford was completely on fire that entire half. He could do no wrong and the 49ers were struggling to bother him.
Offensively, they were a mess. Jimmy Garoppolo looked like a quarterback who was throwing with an injury... shocker. On top of that, the pass protection wasn't great, so it just made matters worse along with a lacking run game. Everything was set up for the Rams to kick open the doors and destroy the 49ers. Once they got up 17-0, it certainly seemed that way.
But the final drive of the first half for the 49ers started a domino effect. The desperation was felt throughout that offense. Getting points was a must have for them and they got it with a sweet drive that nabbed them three points. Going into halftime with points finally on the board gave them a breath of fresh air.
And then came their electric second half.
Right out of the gates, Kyle Shanahan was in his bag with his play calling. Suddenly, the run game was effective. Tie that in with Garoppolo making some critical throws. The 49ers scored immediately out of the half to trail by one touchdown. This ended up sparking the offense until midway through the fourth quarter where the 49ers would have the game tied.
Coming back from being down 17 points was an incredible sight for the 49ers. The Rams should've put the game to bed, but the offense started clicking and the defense anchored as always. All the momentum in the world was on the 49ers' side and nothing looked to be getting in their way. They got the Rams to look soft like they did in Week 10. There was no way the 49ers would lose that momentum unless they shot themselves in the foot.
Unfortunately, that shot to the foot occurred.
Garoppolo threw a costly interception in the red-zone. For whatever reason, Garoppolo attempted a pass to George Kittle in triple coverage. He did have extreme pressure in his face, but to force that throw in is inexcusable. That is something a rookie does, not a veteran. That took away three points at least for the 49ers that would've been critical in the end.
That interception also swung momentum to the Rams who would end up taking the lead 24-17. That scoring drive was immaculate thanks to Stafford and Cooper Kupp. Again, things were looking dark for the 49ers as time was running out. The offense had to answer back, but failed. It was on the defense to save the day and hold the Rams to a three and out or the 49ers were done.
And they did it.
The defense held and gave the offense one last chance to tie the game to go into overtime. Shanahan did not pull any punches on the final series in regulation. His play calling that final drive was beautiful and that led to a couple of sweet throws from Garoppolo and one monstrous catch from Deebo Samuel.
Overtime was the last stand for the 49ers who opened up with the ball. This time it was the Jauan Jennings Show. He looked phenomenal that drive, and really the whole game, to put the 49ers in scoring position. However, the 49ers couldn't ice the game with a touchdown as they settled for a field goal. The responsibility of winning the game would fall on the defense's shoulders.
Or rather, the hands of Ambry Thomas.
Unbelievable to see the rookie who is constantly beat win the game off an interception of Stafford. Thomas sends the 49ers to the playoffs where they have a date with a historic rival in the Cowboys.
What a game.