The 49ers’ ugly 2015 season – full of injuries, disappointment and fan anger at ownership – came to an end late Sunday afternoon with a beautiful, game-winning drive in overtime for a 19-16 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
With the game against St. Louis at Levi’s Stadium tied 16-16 in OT, the Niners withstood a long drive by the Rams, with Dontae Johnson blocking a 48-yard field goal attempt for the St. Louis win.
The 49ers then took over at their own 26. Blaine Gabbert marched them to Phil Dawson’s 23-yard game-winning field goal in just four plays. First, he hit DuJuan Harris for 6 yards, plus 15 yards more tacked on for roughing the passer. Gabbert then connected with Torrey Smith for 15 yards before throwing an incompletion. His next throw was short, a 5-yarder to Quinton Patton, who broke loose all the way to the Rams’ 5-yard line. From there, Dawson made the kick that gave the 49ers their fifth victory of the season.
San Francisco finishes 5-11 under first-year head coach Jim Tomsula – with many suspecting that it might be Tomsula’s last, too. It’s the 49ers’ worst record since 2007 and continues a three-year downward franchise trend. In 2013, the 49ers were 12-4 under head coach Jim Harbaugh and reached the NFC Championship Game. A year ago, they finished 8-8 in Harbaugh’s last season.
Cam Inman, who covers the 49ers for the Bay Area News Group, reported right after Sunday’s game that Tomsula’s firing seemed to be likely, and that several names of veteran coaches – Sean Payton of the Saints, former Eagles/Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, Mike Holmgren (Seahawks/Packers) and David Shaw of Stanford were being linked to the team as possible candidates.
In Sunday’s season finale, Gabbert made yet another bid to put himself into the mix for the quarterback position in 2016 in San Francisco. He completed 28-of-44 throws for 354 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Eight of those throws went to Harris for 86 yards. Harris also led the 49ers in rushing with 67 yards.
Though Tomsula may have coached his last game for the 49ers, he told reporter Matt Maiocco of CSN before the game he hadn’t been told of his future with the team, one way or the other.
“If it is, it is,” he said. “If is isn’t, it isn’t.”