Garoppolo: Overtime classic with Rams a win the 49ers 'won't forget anytime soon'

By Sports Desk January 09, 2022

Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers revelled in a win they won't forget for a long time after claiming a dramatic 27-24 overtime triumph over the Los Angeles Rams to punch their ticket to the postseason.

The Niners went into Sunday's clash at SoFi Stadium knowing a victory would clinch a place in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. A loss would have allowed the New Orleans Saints, who cruised past the Atlanta Falcons, to sneak in at their expense.

Quarterback Garoppolo, playing with a torn ligament in his left thumb, struggled early and the Niners fell into a 17-0 hole, a Robbie Gould field goal all San Francisco could muster before half-time.

But Deebo Samuel ran for a touchdown and then threw one to Jauan Jennings on a trick play to tie things up, with the same receiver on the end of a pass from Garoppolo to force overtime after Jalen Ramsey's endzone interception followed by Matthew Stafford's touchdown strike to Cooper Kupp had put the Rams back on top 24-17.

The 49ers won the coin toss and Garoppolo led a 12-play drive that ended in a Robbie Gould field goal to give them their first lead of the game, one they clung on to as rookie Ambry Thomas intercepted a Stafford deep shot intended for Odell Beckham Jr. to give San Francisco a sixth successive win over the Rams, securing a Wild Card matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.

Garoppolo was limited in practice throughout the week after missing the 23-7 win over the Houston Texans in Week 17, but felt his hand improved over the course of an instant classic.

Asked about his thumb, Garoppolo told a media conference: "It feels great right now, after a win of course. It got better as it went I would say.

"Obviously with injuries like that your body's just learning and adapting the whole time. Early on it was pretty numb so it felt alright and then just got better and better as it went and I think my arm just kind of learned how to adapt to it.

"[There were] a lot of emotions, throughout the whole game, getting off to a slow start and just coming back like we did.

"It took everything, we say that a lot of weeks but this one really did. I felt it after the game I know a lot of guys in that locker room did, it was one of those games that you won't forget anytime soon."

Shanahan, who said Garoppolo's strong week of practice made it an easy decision to start him over rookie Trey Lance, echoed his quarterback's sentiments.

"Our guys are real resilient, I've been very proud of them," Shanahan said. 

"I'm just glad we get to go into the tournament and be a part of it because regardless of what happened today I was going to be very proud of those guys.

"Our goal every year is to get into the tournament so you've got a chance at the ultimate one. I think it's real hard when you have a season where you lose four in a row [as the Niners did Weeks 3-7].

"Most places when you lose four in a row it's tough to keep guys together. The character in our building and the players and everyone around it makes easy, you can just focus on your job and keep fighting and that's what our guys have done all year, they've just kept fighting, not worried about it anything else, in the meantime I think we've gotten better each time doing that and we've been able to overcome some injuries too."

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