Tie leaves Niners struggling for right words

The 49ers struggled to find the right words Sunday to explain their feelings after their 24-24 tie with the St. Louis Rams, San Francisco's first tie game since 1986 and the team's first at Candlestick Park since 1972. Coach Jim Harbaugh and several of his players give their takes on the game.


On whether he's ever experienced a tie like this before:
Well, first of all, it was a good football game. And both teams had their opportunities and thought both teams battled. Our team had some things go against us and then battled back, and had opportunities. So, I think that's what I make of it. It was a good football game.

On whether the Niners didn't win because quarterback Alex Smith was lost with a concussion: No. I wouldn't put it on any one thing. I know the effort was there. It was a good football game. We made plays. They made plays. And it equaled out in the end.

On which play caused the concussion: From what I've been told by the doctors and the trainers it seems like it was the quarterback sneak. The fourth-and-one sneak.

On what gave the 49ers indications Smith was dealing with a concussion: He said his vision was blurred before going back in on the series that we didn't put him in. So, said he had blurred vision. So called up [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap. Got him warmed up and Alex went over and saw the doctors. There'll be a protocol, a progression that he'll go through (to determine his status for next week's game).

On the play of backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick: Yes. Yes. Think Kap did a very good job. Came in, good focus, good demeanor. Made plays and thought he handled himself, acquitted himself very well.

On whether it feels like a loss when the team doesn't win: I don't know exactly how it feels yet. I've asked several people, some of our players. And I think they feel like I do. Don't know quite how to feel right now. But, the way I feel is that was a good football game. It was a hard-fought game, and came out even.

On the Rams converting two fourth downs throwing out of punt formation: Well, the first one we were trying to block the punt before the half. We sent our corner, to add an extra man into the punt block. And that's something that you know that a team can do. They can throw a pass when they see that. And that takes a lot of gumption to do it and they did it, backed up as far as they were. And they executed it very well. The second one, again, was well-executed on their part. Tough break for us to get that done on us. But, tip your hat to them. That punter was a quarterback at Oregon State. We're well aware of the fact that he could throw the ball pretty darn good. He ran the scout team at Oregon State. It was good execution on their part.

On how much extra coaching he had to do with Kaepernick during timeouts: He was pretty solid, yeah. We felt that just that everything that was in the game plan he was good with, comfortable with and could execute. And he did a very good job. There was no sense of uptightness, or tenseness. He was very good.


On his evaluation of his play:
I thought I did pretty well. Obviously, there is a lot of room for improvement and a lot of things I would like to do differently. I just went out there and tried to do what I could do to help this team.

On when he realized he was going to play: When we were standing on the sideline, before I went in. They told me that Alex [Smith] wasn't going to go in and I was up.

On finally getting into the flow of the game: It did take me awhile to get into the flow of the game. I mean from there, I felt comfortable with everything that we were doing.

On the pass to Kyle Williams near the end of regulation: We were trying to get a quick pass to him to see if he could get into the end zone. If he couldn't we had to get our balance. It was kind of a him or nothing throw because we didn't want to get tackled inbounds and have the clock run out. I was just getting it out of my hands because of the look I had. That was an all or nothing play, we got a bad look so it was kind of a throw it away.

On what point in dawned on the 49ers that a tie was possible in overtime: I think when our defense went back out there with a minute something left. We realized that was a possibility.

On his running plays: A couple of the runs were by design, a couple were scrambles. I mean, our offensively line did a great job protecting and opened up running lanes and some of the passing lanes. So, I just tried to take advantage of that.

On talking to Alex Smith after he was hurt: Yeah, he seems alright. Obviously a little shaken up, but he seems okay.

On what he learned during the game: Just have to compete and got to be better.

On his mindset for the final drive of regulation: That's exactly what you want to do, you want to take your chances but you want to be smart about it. Obviously, you don't want to turn the ball over or anything like that. You have to make your plays down field to get into the field goal range.

On whether he was aware while he was scrambling that the 49ers had no backup quarterback for him: Yeah, but I've never been one to play with a conscious like that. I'm going out there to try and make a play and try to win a game.

On if he'd be comfortable starting next week on Monday Night Football: Very comfortable.


On breaking up a Rams pass late in the game:
I could have ended the game right there, but I didn't grab onto the ball, dropped it. Sometimes you don't really expect to get those plays at certain moments. It hit my glove, hit my hand, I should have just palmed onto it, but, I just batted it down a little bit.

On the feelings of his first NFL tie: It feels weird. It actually feels like a loss, to tell you the truth. That's just how it feels, doesn't feel like we won the game, but you know we didn't lose. It doesn't go in the record as a loss but it feels like a loss, because we know we should have won the game. We started off slow. I think they were ready to play. You can never underestimate a team or overestimate a team, both. They came out ready to play.


On whether the outcome kind of feels like a loss:
It just feels like it's unfinished business. At the end of the day I think both teams wanted to go out one more time and just try to see who could win the game. We couldn't today, couldn't get over the top.

On how much confidence the team had in Kaepernick when he went in for Smith: Did a great job. Young guy coming in making plays, didn't expect to play but he prepares hard every day during the week and does an amazing job. He did a great job out there today.

On whether it's strange to play four hours and five quarters and walk off the field without a victory: Yeah definitely. The type of character this team has, we definitely wanted to go out there for one more opportunity and I bet they had the same mindset as well.

On explaining the team's poor start: Sometimes it's like that. Sometimes teams come and jump ahead, a lot of teams are out to get us right now. We can't have starts like that, especially if we want to be in the top of the division. We understand that, we slipped out of one today, did a good job of coming back and fighting against adversity but we know we can't play like that again.


On how it was with Kaepernick in the huddle:
I think he did a great job. He's talented, so talented. He wants to do well. He wants to make plays and help this team. So, I would give him a B+ for going out there and taking care of everything that the coaches gave him. They put some things on his plate that he was able to handle.

On what Harbaugh told the team after it came out flat: Just talking to us. The guys, they knew what we had to do. We're on a mission. We have goals that we want to achieve. So we know what it takes to get there. We have to win. We have to play hard. We can't play catch-up, meaning we can't be down 14 points and try to catch up because in this league sometimes it doesn't work.


On whether playing this game after a bye week affected the team:
It doesn't, because I think we had the same exact schedule last year after the bye. So, they played better than us in the first quarter. I don't think it had anything to do with the bye. I'm pretty sure we had the same amount of days off last year and the same schedule, so I don't think it had anything to do with the bye. Hats off to them, the way they started the game. Fortunately, we were able to catch up and at least tie it up.

On whether Kaepernick was sort of the same guy he's seen in practice: Yeah, he's always been a confident guy. A guy I'm sure is itching to play. He came in with us being behind and was able to get us at least to a tie game, so hats off to him. We still didn't accomplish what we wanted to do. It's a weird feeling. But right now all we can do is move on to next week.

On the mood of the team after the tie: At the end of the day, you always want to win the game and we didn't win the game. That was the goal. At this point we just have to come in and see what went wrong starting the game off and fix it and we've got a tough one coming off next week, so the goal is to move on to next week and figure out why we didn't win this one.


On his thoughts about the tie:
It feels weird, never been involved in a tie. We're about wins around here, so we are not going to take any satisfaction in this football game. We're going to take a couple days off, rest up, heal up and get ready for the Chicago Bears.

On how his appraisal of Kaepernick's play: I feel like he did a pretty good job. Came in, second team guy, led us to some touchdowns, used his legs, did everything we asked him to do and he did a great job. We had an opportunity to win that football game out there. We didn't play our best. They came and brought it today and we leave here in a tie. So we're not going to take any satisfaction. We're going to get back to work and we have to come get a win next week.

On what it was like covering Rams receiver Danny Amendola: Very quick guy, one of the quickest in the National Football League. He made a couple of plays, so hat goes off to him. It's tough to cover him, it's tough to take him out of the game plan. He's going to get his yards, but we just have to finish that football game and come out with a win.


On if it's a strange feeling to play so long only to end up in a tie:
Yeah, it is. It's the first time I have ever been a part of a tie. I guess the good you can take from it is it's not a loss, but it's not a win. Today, it was a crazy game. Obviously, coming off a bye week we were still a little rusty out there, but give credit to St. Louis. They came out and jumped on us fast 14-0 like in a blink of an eye. We dug ourselves a hole.

On what was going through his mind as the game unfolded: It's just one of those things where they start out, it's 14-0 before you know it and you are like, ‘Whoa wait a minute, this is not right.' Then you go out there and buckle down. Just the way the game was going back and forth and then you go into overtime and today was just one of those games. Today was probably the first time I've been a part of something of this magnitude in the regular season.

What the Rams were doing so well early that was difficult to stop: They were running a run play against us that we say they scheme against us, it kind of works against the 3-4. It was working today in the first quarter and then we found a way to fix it and that's what we do best. Before you know it they kind of got on us and it was 14-0, but we kept on staying together and not getting frustrated. One of the things I love most about our defense and our defensive coaches is that throughout the game we constantly are always trying to find a way to improve and find out what's hurting us when things are hitting us. Even when things are going well we are trying to figure out what they are trying to do to us.

On coming off the field after a defensive stop only to have to go back out after the Rams convert a fake punt: It's tough. Anytime you think you are getting off the field on a third down, you are thinking you are going to go over there, look at the plays they just ran, get some Gatorade and get off your feet. Next thing you know you have that sudden change and have to go right back out there on defense again. It's tough, but for us you always have to be ready for anything and today they got us with it a couple of times.

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