Niners, Garcia getting good at last-minute magic

Where there is an overtime, there is a way.

Where there still is at least one ticktock remaining on the clock, there is a way.

Where there still is room in the score for a daredevil fourth-quarter comeback by the San Francisco 49ers, there still is a way.

The Niners already have found a way often this season to turn potential disappointing defeats into thrilling, last-minute comeback victories. Led by the theatrics and heroics of quarterback Jeff Garcia, the 49ers rallied for their fourth fourth-quarter comeback victory of the season last Sunday during a 25-22 overtime win against the Panthers in Carolina.

"No matter what the situation is in a game, no matter where we stand in a game, if we're within striking distance, we've gotten to the point where we really believe we're going to win the game," Garcia said. "If there's enough time, we're going to win the game. That's the type of confidence this team has."

The Carolina comeback tied Garcia with Joe Montana, who guided the Niners to four fourth-quarter comeback wins in 1989, one behind the all-time team record of five set by Y.A. Tittle in 1957. It also was San Francisco's third overtime victory this season - tying the NFL record previously set by Detroit in 1994 and matched by Kansas City in 1995 and Pittsburgh in 1997. And the Niners - who, at 7-2, have the second-best record in the NFL - still have seven games remaining in the regular season to have the record all to themselves.

Of course, that's not exactly a record they're looking for. They've already played four overtime games this season - one short of the NFL record - and that's quite enough, thank you. "You want to make this a more efficient offense and not always be in situations where you have to come back and pull it out with the last drive of the game," said Garcia, the NFC's top-rated passer who leads the NFL with 20 touchdown passes and directs the league's No. 2-rated offense.

"That luck, so to speak, is going to run out, and it's not anything we want to rely on." Just the same, when the 49ers find themselves in that predicament, it's not something that is much of a worry anymore. They know they can get the job done under such dire circumstances. "It's getting to a point where it's not that big a deal," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said. "I shouldn't say not that big a deal. But we've been behind at halftime most of the time, so the wheels don't necessarily come off. We've been behind in the fourth quarter many times also.

And so, there's a certain confidence, a certain amount of knowledge that, hey, we've done this before, we know we can do it again."

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