San Francisco 49ers Tie St. Louis Rams; Remain Atop NFC West

The San Francisco 49ers tied the St. Louis Rams 24-24 on Sunday for the first tie in the NFL since the Donovan McNabb game in 2008 (and yes, McNabb games can end in a tie). But the question is, how are you supposed to feel after a tie?  If you’re a Rams fan — is it a moral victory?  For 49ers fans — a loss that just doesn’t show up in the loss column, but something that makes your win/loss record look funny?  Are we supposed to feel happy? Sad? Indifferent?  Has Football finally converted to Soccer?** Do you feel like you just kissed your Sister? (I’m an only child, so I do not know that feel bro) For the 49ers, this game has longstanding repercussions and silver linings that will go beyond this game and could determine how far this team goes in the Playoffs.

**I even googled what an ‘aggregate” is and I still don’t get it…seriously Soccer how are you a sport?

I always want the bad news first. so let’s start there:

  • The Defense – The 49ers are supposed to have the best defense in the NFL.  A defense that imposes their will, stops the run, and limits the big play.  None of that happened on Sunday.  The Rams ran all over the 49ers with Steven Jackson running for over 100 yards, the 49ers gave up the big play as well.  On the first drive, they uncharacteristically gave up a 36 yard Touchdown to Brian Quick and almost gave up a game altering 80 yard pass play to Danny Amendola that got called back due to an illegal formation penalty.  In all the 49ers losses the defense has not been able to stop the run which is their bread and butter.
  • Home-Field Advantage.  Well Niner fans you don’t have to worry about head-to-head tiebreakers anymore.  With the tie, the 49ers now have to finish 1/2 game better than the Seahawks in the NFC West to win, and a 1/2 game better than the Bears, Falcons, Packers, Giants to insure a first round bye in the Playoffs.  A win on Sunday and a win on Monday versus the Chicago Bears would’ve been huge for home-field for the 49ers.

Now the Silver Linings for the 49ers:

  • Colin Kaepernick – The 49ers backup Quarterback saw his first extensive playing time since being drafted in the 2nd round last year.  He came into the game down by seven, and led this team to eventually take the lead.  After starting slow, Kaepernick finished the game 11/17 for 119 yards passing and 66 yards rushing with a touchdown.  Kaepernick takes a lot more chances than Alex Smith and clearly has the more talented arm, but he does not have the grasp of the offense like Smith.  Kaepernick will eventually be the starting Quarterback for this team, and Sunday’s game was encouraging for a team that may need him sooner rather than later.
  • Technically the 49ers didn’t lose.  San Francisco played one of their three worst games of the year, and the worst first quarter of the season coming off their bye week, but they didn’t get a loss that would’ve hurt their chances at winning the NFC West and getting home-field even more than a tie.  In a hard fought NFC West game against a rival, the Niners were down two touchdowns and came back despite playing terrible defense and having the backup Quarterback in, I will take that.  Plus if you have any friends that are fans of other teams you can always drop the line, “Technically we didn’t lose, so shut up!”.

Now that I’ve helped you handle that weird feeling of a tie, there has to be an alternative for the NFL to incorporate that ends the horrible tradition of teams making their records look weird, and having a decisive winner every week.

In a sport that is so under the microscope with injuries, there is absolutely no way that, if a game ends after five quarters you cannot play endlessly 6+ quarters, it just doesn’t make sense especially when you play the following week. So what are some alternatives?

  • 40 yard dash.  A 40 yard dash — everyone’s favorite event at the NFL Combine, especially if you’re a fanboy of those things like yours truly, but not from your fastest player, but from an offensive linemen that weights over 300 pounds?  What do you think? No, it’s entertaining (who doesn’t love watching fatties run?), but would never work.
  • Skills Competition.  A skills competition with the Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Running Backs and defensive skill players would be a fun alternative, but we couldn’t have that determine a game, especially if it’s make or break for the Playoffs.
  • Penalty Kicks.  If we are gonna have a game end in a tie, and kickers miss field goals for game winners like Sunday, why not have the kickers do Penalty Kicks like in real Soccer?  It could happen…

Although the San Francisco 49ers versus the St. Louis Rams game was entertaining, yet ultimately disappointing, I hope I helped you deal with your  latest confusion of feelings, since you were an adolescent, on how to feel after a tie game.  Whether you’re happy the 49ers didn’t lose, pissed off they didn’t cover the spread (I know I am!), or that it feels like you kissed your Sister, just know there is always next Monday in a huge game against the Bears, we can only hope there is a decisive winner in that game.

- Lance Cartelli

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