After the San Francisco 49ers had to make stops late to hold off the suddenly spunky St. Louis Rams in their regular-season finale, their first-year coach was clear he definitely did not have mixed emotions.
“I feel great,” Jim Harbaugh said after the 34-27 victory over a two-win team Sunday that turned out to be a lot more hard-fought than expected. “I’m not going to come in here and be sad that we won.”
The 49ers (13-3) could use the bye week that comes with the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC, with wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. (ankle) and Kyle Williams (concussion) out for the finale. Running back Frank Gore sat out the second half with what Harbaugh vaguely described as “something that was bothering him,” although Gore said he was not hurt.
“It was a coach’s decision, but I’m fine,” said Gore, held to 9 yards on seven carries. “I’m getting my body real fresh. We were up three touchdowns. I’m cool, I’m good.”
After beating the Rams for the second time in five weeks, 49ers players were happy to be getting a break.
“I’ll sit back and watch the games. Let the games begin,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “My mind is about to go on a whole new phase, that’s the way I see it.”
Record-setting kicker David Akers showed off a strong left arm to match his left leg as Michael Crabtree bamboozled defenders on a perfectly executed fake field goal that made it 27-10 in the third quarter. Crabtree appeared to be leaving the field but stopped just shy of the sideline and no defender followed.
“Kind of like I disappeared on the sideline, but I was 2 feet away, so it worked out,” Crabtree said. “They didn’t see me. I was just over there really just chillin’, waiting on D.A. (Akers) to throw me the ball.”
Crabtree caught scoring passes from Akers and Alex Smith for the 49ers, who led by 24 in the fourth quarter.
Akers broke the NFL single-season field goal record last week and finished with 44, including five in the first half of the two St. Louis meetings. He missed on a 48-yarder, but clicked from 36 and 42 yards.
Davis also had a big day for a team short of pass catchers and Tarell Brown had a pair of interceptions that led to touchdowns. The 49ers held St. Louis to just 157 total yards in a 26-0 victory that clinched the NFC West in Week 12 but hung on at the finish of the rematch when the Rams scored two touchdowns in just 13 seconds.