INGLEWOOD, Calif. — It was a fitting way for the San Francisco 49ers to punch their ticket to the postseason.
Left for dead at halftime much like they were at the halfway point of their season, the Niners scratched and clawed their way back from a 17-point deficit for a dramatic 27-24 win in overtime against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
With the victory, the 10-7 Niners locked up the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs and will meet the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round next weekend. Paired with the Arizona Cardinals‘ loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams still clinched the NFC West and the fourth seed in the conference.
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp finished the game with seven receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown but fell short of setting NFL records for receiving yards and receptions in a season. Kupp needed 136 receiving yards to break Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 receiving yards set in 2012, and 12 receptions to break New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas‘ mark of 149 receptions record set in 2019.
After falling behind by 17 in the first half, history suggested the 49ers were about to call it a season and head home for the winter.
Sunday’s victory was the Niners’ first after facing a 17-plus point deficit since the 2012 NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons. Over the past 20 seasons, the Niners were 3-91 when facing such deficits, including the postseason.
Likewise, the Rams had never lost a game in which they had the lead at halftime under coach Sean McVay, who was 45-0 in those scenarios since taking over in 2017. Los Angeles’ streak was the second-longest in NFL history, trailing only Green Bay’s 49 straight from 1926-33.
The 49ers’ comeback win was tied for the fourth largest on the road in franchise history, and their sixth consecutive win against the Rams.
To make it happen, the Niners needed plenty of late-game magic. They surged to a tie at 17 in the third quarter and appeared poised to take the lead before Garoppolo threw an interception to Jalen Ramsey deep in Los Angeles territory.
But Garoppolo, who entered the game with a right thumb injury, showed his resolve, leading the Niners on an 88-yard touchdown drive in 1:01 to tie it with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings.
Garoppolo picked up where he left off in overtime, quickly leading the Niners down the field with a pair of big third-down completions to Jennings to set up the game-winning field goal.
Garoppolo finished 23-of-32 for 316 yards with a touchdown and an interception for a passer rating of 87.5.