Chargers 38

(9-6, 4-3 away)

49ers 35

(7-8, 3-4 home)

Coverage: CBS

8:25 PM ET, December 20, 2014

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA 

1 2 3 4 OT T
SD 0 7 14 14 338
SF 7 21 7 0 035

Top Performers

Passing: P. Rivers (SD) - 356 YDS, 4 TD, 3 INT

Rushing: F. Gore (SF) - 26 CAR, 158 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: E. Royal (SD) - 10 REC, 94 YDS, 1 TD

Chargers erase 21-point deficit, beat 49ers on Nick Novak's OT FG

Associated Press
49ers Lose 21-Point Lead, Lose To Chargers
SportsCenter Highlight of the Night: Despite 355 rushing yards and three touchdowns from the 49ers, Philip Rivers and the Chargers came back from a 28-7 deficit to beat San Francisco 38-35 in overtime.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Philip Rivers looked at the 21-point deficit on the scoreboard at halftime and even he wondered whether the San Diego Chargers had it in them to come back. The season depended on it, so Rivers took charge.

He prevailed through a balky back and a sore chest to keep San Diego's slim playoff chances alive, rallying his team to tie it in the final minute and setting up Nick Novak's 40-yard field goal nearly 5 minutes into overtime in a 38-35 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night.

"Obviously, an unbelievable finish," coach Mike McCoy said. "We had about as bad a first half as we could possibly play. ... You saw a lot of emotion on the sideline throughout that second half -- the excitement, the energy, the way we play football."

Rivers found playmakers in Antonio Gates and Eddie Royal when two of San Diego's offensive stars were down with injuries.

He completed his fourth touchdown pass of the day with a tying 11-yard TD pass to Malcom Floyd with 29 seconds left in regulation after completing a pair of fourth-and-longs as the Chargers (9-6) forced overtime.

Phil Dawson's 60-yard field goal attempt for San Francisco as regulation ended fell way short. Quinton Patton then fumbled in overtime to set up San Diego's winning drive.

"What a comeback. It's one of the greatest I've been a part of, and it keeps us alive," Novak said. "To kick the game winner, do-or-die kick ... loved being in that moment."

On a night nearly everything clicked for the home team until the waning moments, Rivers made plays without wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Ryan Mathews.

He shined with the season on the line. The Chargers came in needing to win out and get some help after beginning the week tied with Kansas City and Buffalo, one game out of the final wild-card berth. San Diego ends the season at Kansas City next Sunday.

Rivers converted fourth-and-8 and fourth-and-10 on the key final San Diego drive of the fourth quarter.

"We just got going and fell into a rhythm," Rivers said. "At halftime, we didn't know if we could come all the way back, but we were going to fight. That's who we are."

The 49ers blew just their second game when leading by 21 or more at halftime and lost their fourth straight game under embattled coach Jim Harbaugh. They lost 42-41 to Minnesota on Oct. 24, 1965, after leading 35-14 at halftime.

Colin Kaepernick ran 90 yards for a touchdown and Frank Gore had a 52-yard touchdown run as the Niners (7-8) grabbed early momentum.

"Right now there's not much to say," Harbaugh said. "That's a tough one."

Rivers threw touchdown passes of 21 and 1 yard to Gates and another to Royal, but also was hurt by three interceptions. On one of those, Antoine Bethea had a 49-yard return for his first career touchdown. A defense minus recently released starting lineman Ray McDonald never let Rivers find a rhythm.

The 31-year-old Gore finished with 158 yards and he needs 38 yards in the final game next weekend against Arizona for a fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season and eighth in his 10 NFL seasons. His scoring run was his longest since a 64-yarder on Nov. 1, 2009, at Indianapolis. It also was the longest TD run allowed by San Diego since 2010 before Kaepernick topped it.

Gore had more yards in this game than in his previous four games combined, and New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez was in attendance wearing the running back's red No. 21 jersey.

Rookie Bruce Ellington caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick early in the second quarter that put the Niners up 21-0, then ran for a 1-yard score late in the half before leaving with a hamstring injury.

Rivers, 33-for-54 for 356 yards, sat out Wednesday's practice with chest and back injuries.

"We've got the best quarterback in the league," Floyd said. "We had faith in us."

Harbaugh, who is facing a constant swirl of speculation about his future -- like a report alma mater Michigan has made him a six-year offer to coach the Wolverines -- has said there's still plenty to play for, like a winning season despite the disappointment following three straight trips to the NFC championship game.

Four players sustained concussions or head injuries -- 49ers safety Eric Reid and San Diego cornerback Shareece Wright with concussions and San Francisco cornerback Leon McFadden and linebacker Aldon being evaluated for head injuries.

Game notes

San Diego CB Steve Williams suffered a knee injury and C Chris Watt hurt an ankle. ... 49ers RT Anthony Davis returned for the first time since Nov. 9 after missing four games with a concussion. ... 49ers CB Perrish Cox made his fifth interception, moving him into a tie for third place in the NFC. ... 49ers S Bubba Ventrone and WR Brandon Lloyd suffered groin injuries.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2821
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays8066
Total Yards446447
Yards per play5.66.8
Total Drives1313
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)3-32-3
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs11

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

sfTD13:12Frank Gore 52 Yd Run (Phil Dawson Kick)
Drive info: 4 plays, 76 yds, 1:48
sfTD13:36Bruce Ellington 8 Yd pass from Colin Kaepernick (Phil Dawson Kick)
Drive info: 10 plays, 67 yds, 5:32
sfTD10:20Antoine Bethea 49 Yd Interception Return (Phil Dawson Kick)
Drive info: 7 plays, 25 yds, 3:16
sdTD5:09Eddie Royal 15 Yd pass from Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick)
Drive info: 8 plays, 73 yds, 5:11
sfTD0:06Bruce Ellington 1 Yd Run (Phil Dawson Kick)
Drive info: 12 plays, 64 yds, 5:03
sdTD5:49Antonio Gates 1 Yd pass from Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick)
Drive info: 9 plays, 59 yds, 3:26
sdTD3:26Corey Liuget 0 Yd Fumble Return (Nick Novak Kick)
Drive info: 4 plays, -20 yds, 2:23
sfTD2:26Colin Kaepernick 90 Yd Run (Phil Dawson Kick)
Drive info: 2 plays, 94 yds, 1:00
sdTD5:15Antonio Gates 21 Yd pass from Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick)
Drive info: 9 plays, 85 yds, 3:40
sdTD0:29Malcom Floyd 11 Yd pass from Philip Rivers (Nick Novak Kick)
Drive info: 14 plays, 80 yds, 3:01
sdFG10:06Nick Novak 40 Yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 40 yds, 4:00

Research Notes

Colin Kaepernick (SF): 90-yard Rush TD, longest by QB in 49ers history; 2nd-longest Rush TD by any player in 49ers history (Garrison Hearst 96-yard Rush TD in 1998)
The Chargers outscored the 49ers 31-7 after halftime, erasing a 21-point deficit. It's tied for the 2nd-largest comeback win this season, and it's their largest comeback victory since 2006 (Week 10 against the Bengals).
San Francisco ran for 355 yards Saturday, the 3rd-most in a game in franchise history and the 49ers' most since 1948. - Frank Gore totaled 158 yards on the ground, including 93 after contact. Gore's 93 yards after contact were his most in last 5 seasons. - The 49ers were especially effective between the tackles. San Francisco's 243 yards inside the tackles were its most in last 5 seasons. - Gore and Colin Kaepernick both ran for 100+ yards becoming the first 49er duo to each top 100 rushing yards in a game since Nov. 13 1977 (Wilbur Jackson & Delvin Williams).
Philip Rivers had as many interceptions as completions (2) in the 1st half on throws more than 5 yards downfield. Rivers completed 7 passes at least 15 yards downfield in the 2nd half and overtime, matching his most in a game this season. Rivers and the Chargers were a perfect 3-for-3 on 4th-down conversions in the 2nd half, including two on their game-tying drive to force overtime. The Chargers entered the game 1-for-5 (20%) on 4th-down attempts, the worst conversion rate in the league this season.
For the 2nd time this season, the 49ers lost a game in which they led by at least 17 points (Week 2 vs Bears). The 49ers are the 4th team in the last 10 seasons to lose multiple games when leading by at least 17.
Colin Kaepernick has been sacked 49 times this season, the most in the NFL.
Philip Rivers is 33-8 in his career in regular-season games in December or January. Since 2004, only Tom Brady has a better record.
The 49ers current 3-game losing streak is longest of Harbaugh era.
This is the 1st time that the Chargers have allowed over 300 rush yards in a game since allowing 378 against the Vikings in 2007 (Week 9). In that game, Adrian Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 on the ground.
The 49ers ran for 88 yards after contact in the 1st half, already their most in a game this season.
Frank Gore eclipsed 100 rushing yards on his first rush of the 2nd quarter. The 49ers have won their last 14 regular-season games when Gore has rushed for 100+ yards.
Frank Gore eclipsed 100 rushing yards on his first rush of the 2nd quarter. The 49ers have won their last 14 regular-season games when Gore has rushed for 100+ yards.
Frank Gore ran for a 52-yard touchdown, his longest TD run in the last 5 seasons. Gore had 43 yards after contact on the run, more than he had in any game this season.
Prior to their 3rd-quarter conversion, the Chargers converted only 20% of their 4th-down attempts, the lowest rate in the league this season.
Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick ranked 5th and 6th in the NFL in Total QBR during their first season's as starters in 2012. They've both declined each season since - RG-3 has the worst drop off in QBR from 2012 to 2013 of any QB and now Kaepernick has the worst dropoff from 2013 to 2014 (min. 300 action plays each season).

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