Here’s the live blog for the Niners Week 17 game in St. Louis against the Rams. I’ll be updating this throughout the game from home.
9:30 Patrick Willis is active and starting ahead of Larry Grant at inside linebacker for the first time in four weeks.
Two Minute Warning
Ted Ginn Jr (ankle), Kyle Williams (concussion) and Delanie Walker (jaw) are not active. Neither are Scott Tolzien, Shawntae Spencer, Mike Person or Ian Williams.
Brett Swain will start next to Michael Crabtree at wide receiver and Joe Hastings is the third and final wideout on the active roster.
The Rams win the toss and defer possession.
10:03 Kendall Hunter returns the kickoff to the SF 22 before he slips.
10:03 Alex Smith completes a pass to Vernon Davis in the left flat for nine yards on first down.
10:03 Frank Gore runs off left tackle for three yards and first down.
10:05 Two tight ends, one back set. Frank Gore runs up the middle for no gain, then gets subbed out for Kendall Hunter.
10:06 Smith completes a short pass to Vernon Davis in the right flat for five yards. Third and five.
10:07 The Rams bring an overload blitz from the right, the Niners pick it up and Smith completes a short pass to Davis over the middle for nine yards and a first down.
10:07 The Rams blitz again, the Niners pick it up again, Smith play fakes and completes a pass to Michael Crabtree over the middle for 16 yards. Great execution so far on this drive.
10:08 Frank Gore runs up the middle for a one yard gain. The Rams are stacking the box to take away the inside run.
10:09 Colin Jones sprints across the formation, faking the fly sweep. Smith flips the ball to Kendall Hunter who runs the opposite direction for five yards. Third and four.
10:09 The Rams bring a safety blitz and the Niners can’t pick this one up. Smith rolls to the left and throws the ball out of bounds.
10:10 David Akers hooks the 48-yard field goal attempt wide right. This drive ends like so many other Niners drives have in the past. They move the ball well between the 20s, throwing effectively on first downs. Then they get into the Rams territory, run on first and second down, fail to convert on third down and settle for a field goal attempt. If Greg Roman goes conservative in the same situations against the Saints in the playoffs, the Niners will lose.
10:12 From the STL 38, Steven Jackson runs up the middle and gets tackled by Parys Haralson for no gain.
10:13 Kellen Clemens play fakes and completes a 24 yard pass to Brandon Lloyd in Dashon Goldson’s area. First down.
10:14 Jackson runs for seven yards off right tackle. Second and three.
10:14 Jackson up the middle for ten yards on the wham run.
10:15 Ray McDonald tackles Jackson from behind after a three-yard gain.
10:16 Clemens misses Lance Kendricks in the end zone. Incomplete. Third and seven.
10:16 Clemens runs away from Aldon Smith in the pocket and scrambles 18 yards for a touchdown. 7-0 Rams. Donte Whitner missed a tackle at the goal line.
10:19 Hunter bobbles the kickoff in the end zone so he takes a knee for the touchback.
10:21 This is the second straight game the Niners defense has given up a touchdown on the opening drive on the road.
10:22 Alex Smith lets it roll. He hands off to Hunter who runs off right tackle for seven yards.
10:23 Gore runs a counter to the right and loses a yard. Third and four.
10:23 The Rams blitz a fifth rusher and Smith throws behind Brett Swain. Incomplete. The Niners are 1 for 3 on third down and now Andy Lee has to punt. He kicks it out of bounds at the STL 8 – a 66 yard punt.
10:26 Bowman knocks away Clemens’ short pass over the middle.
10:27 Ahmad Brooks tackles Jackson after he gains five yards up the middle. Third and five.
10:28 Bowman blitzes and Justin Smith sacks Clemens for an eight yard loss.
10:28 The Rams punt to Reggie Smith who returns it 10 yards to the STL 33. This is the time for Greg Roman to call pass plays on fist and second down.
10:31 Roman calls a play-fake screen on first down. Smith completes the pass to Hunter who picks up 11 yards. Great play design, play call and execution.
10:32 And then Roman goes conservative. Gore up the middle for two.
10:32 Smith completes a short pass to Crabtree in the right flat. Crabtree breaks one tackle at the first down marker and ends up gaining 10 yards and the first down.
10:33 First and goal from the ten, Gore up the middle for 2. Atrocious play call by Roman.
10:34 Smith drops back to throw but decides no one’s open, so he throws the ball out of bounds. Third and goal from the eight.
10:34 Smith calls kill, drops back, evades a rusher and slips, gets up and scrambles eight yards for a touchdown. Great effort by Smith, Justin Peelle and Frank Gore also had key blocks on the play. 7-7. Alex Smith performed better on that possession than Greg Roman the play caller did.
10:37 On the kickoff return Colin Jones tackles Norwood at the STL 13.
10:38 Clemens play fakes and completes a wild pass to Kendricks across his body for 19 yards.
10:40 Bruce Miller tweaked his knee and left the game. Moran Norris takes his place.
10:41 Jackson up the middle for two.
10:41 Jackson up the middle for five more. Third and three.
10:42 Norwood takes a handoff and throws a dead duck back across the field to Clemens. Tarell Brown easily picks off the duck and returns it to the STL 34.
10:43 Smith completes a quick pass to Crabtree on a WR screen to the left. Gain of six.
10:44 With Gore lineup up the backfield in I-formation, Smith throws another WR screen to Crabtree, this one to the right. Crabtree breaks a tackle with a stiff arm and runs 28 yards into the end zone for a touch down. 14-7 Niners. Those were two very good play calls back-to-back by Roman, and a great play by Crabtree for the score.
10:47 Anthony Dixon and C.J. Spillman tackle Norwood at the STL 17 n the kickoff return.
10:49 False start on the Rams’ Harvey Dahl. First and 15 from the 12.
10:50 Cadillac Williams up the middle for three. This game will be over real soon if Josh McDaniels calls more plays like that.
10:51 Williams takes an inside handoff up the middle for six. Third and six.
10:51 Bowman blitzes again, and Ahmad Brooks sacks Clemens on a stunt. The Rams punt from their end zone, but they get called for a holding penalty before the kick. Re-do.
10:53 Tramaine Brock comes close to blocking the punt in the end zone. Madieu Williams gets flagged for a block in the back. The Niners will start at their own 33 yard line.
10:56 Smith uses a hard count and the Rams get flagged for a neutral zone infraction. First and five.
10:57 From the shotgun, Smith hands off to Hunter who runs up the middle for three.
10:58 Isaac Sopoaga’s in the game as an extra FB. Gore runs up the middle for two yards. First and ten.
10:59 Smith play fakes, the offensive line gives him plenty of time, and Smith completes a 44-yard pass to Davis on a wheel route down the right sideline.
11:00 Smith follows that great pass up by taking a sack for seven yard loss. The Rams blitzed up the middle on that one and Hunter missed a block.
11:01 Roman calls a screen to Hunter but the Rams break the play up. Third and 17.
11:01 Smith completes a quick screen to Crabtree for a one-yard gain. This red zone trip was doomed as soon as Smith took that sack.
11:02 David Akers makes the 36-yard field goal. 17-7 Niners with 7:17 left in the second quarter.
11:04 Touchback Akers.
11:05 Jackson off left tackle for three yards. Haralson called for hands to the face. First down Rams.
11:05 Jackson up the middle for no gain. Second and ten.
11:06 Kendricks drops Clemens pass. Third and ten.
11:07 From the shotgun Clemens fumbles the snap. The Rams recover and on fourth down they punt to Reggie Smith who returns it to the SF 34.
11:09 Smith fumbles the snap from under center, picks it up and throws the ball out of bounds.
11:09 Hunter runs off right tackle for a one-yard loss.
11:10 On third and 11 Smith completes a short pass to Davis for six yards. Andy Lee time. He punts this one into the end zone.
11:11 Goldson breaks up a great throw downfield by Clemens. Second and ten.
11:12 Jackson off left guard for no gain. Third and ten.
11:13 Jackson takes an inside handoff off right tackle and Bowman tackles him after a three-yard gain. Bowman looked like Patrick Willis on that play.
11:14 The Rams punt and Reggie Smith returns it to the SF 42 where he fumbles. Colin Jones recovers the ball at the SF 44.
11:15 Hunter takes a pitch sweep to the left, cuts back and picks up six on first down.
11:15 Smith completes a quick pass to Brett Swain on a out route to the left for six yards a first down.
Two Minute Warning
11:18 Hunter runs through a huge hole up the middle for 13 yards.
11:19 Hurry up offense. Smith completes a pass to Hunter for no gain.
11:19 Smith completes a pass to Davis on a shallow crossing route for 7 yards. Third and three.
11:20 Robert Quinn beats Joe Staley and hits Smith as he throws. The ball bounces in front of Joe Hastings incomplete. David Akers makes the 42-yard field goal. 20-7 with one minute left in the first half.
11:22 Touchback Akers, again.
11:23 Clemens completes a screen to Jackson who picks up 15 yards. The Rams take their first timeout.
11:24 The Niners blitz and Clemens completes a quick pass to Lloyd for nine yards.
11:24 Kendricks falls down and Clemens pass falls incomplete. Third and one.
11:25 Clemens throws deep into double coverage, but the pass was so inaccurate it fell incomplete. The Rams punt it into the Niners end zone for a touchback. 13 second left in the first half.
11:26 Smith takes a knee.
11:41 Spillman tackles Norwood at the STL 45, but the Rams are flagged for holding. Rams start at their nine yard line.
11:42 Patrick Willis gets blocked out of the play and Jackson runs through a huge hole for 27 yards.
11:42 Jackson runs off right guard this time for six yards.
11:43 Bowman trips up Jackson at the line of the scrimmage for no gain.
11:44 On third and four Ricky Jean Francois bats down Clemens pass. The Rams punt, and Reggie Smith fields a fair catch on his knees at the SF nine.
11:47 Josh McDaniels looks like he’s pouting on the sideline.
11:47 Hunter runs off left tackle for six yards. He’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
11:47 On second down Hunter runs a pitch sweep to the right and loses a yard. Third and five.
11:48 Smith hits Crabtree on a quick slant for five yards and a first down.
11:49 Hunter runs off right tackle for 13 yards. Vernon Davis jogs off the field.
11:50 Dixon runs up the middle for two yards. Gore’s helmet is off on the sideline.
11:51 Smith’s pass is batted down at the line of scrimmage. It seems like that happens at least once a game to No. 11. Third and eight.
11:52 The Rams overload blitz the left side of the Niners line and sack Alex Smith immediately. Lee punts and the Rams will start their drive at their 27.
11:55 Clemens play fakes and hits Kendricks down the middle for the field for 22 yards. Carlos Rogers got beat to the inside on the play.
11:56 Jackson up the middle for four.
11:56 Ricky Jean Francois tackles Jackson after a one-yard gain. Third and five.
11:57 Clemens play fakes, rolls right and hits Lloyd for a 23 yard gain. Lloyd beat Goldson on the play.
11:58 Willis sticks Cadillac Williams for no gain, and the Rams’ Tony Wragge gets flagged for a 10-yard holding penalty. First and 20.
11:58 Clemens completes a pass to Lloyd on a quick slant for two yards.
11:59 Clemens play fakes and overthrows an open Kendricks over the middle. Third and 18.
12:00 Clemens throws a screen pass to Jackson and Goldson blasts him to break up the pass.
12:00 Josh Brown makes a 49-yard field goal for the Rams. 20-10 Niners.
12:03 Hunter returns the kick to the SF 18.
12:05 Smith throws incomplete behind Justin Peelle, who was crossing over the middle.
12:06 Smith completes a quick screen to Crabtree who picks up just two yards. Third and eight.
12:07 Smith completes a quick pass to Crabtree on a shallow cross route. He breaks a tackle and a facemask grab and runs 10 yards for a first down. Add 15 yards to the end of that run.
12:08 Dixon runs off left tackle, bounces off two defenders in the hole and gains four.
12:08 Smith completes a 34-yard pass to Davis down the middle of the field. First and ten at the 18.
12:09 Hunter takes a pitch right, cuts back and loses a yard. Bad play call.
12:10 Smith completes a short pass to Davis in the right flat for four yards. Third and seven
12:11 Smith wants Swain in the end zone but he throws the ball out of bounds.
12:11 David Akers takes a direct snap and throws to a completely uncovered Crabtree for a touchdown. Akers was practicing that play in practice warmups two weeks ago. The Rams are challenging the play.
12:14 The refs confirm the touchdown. 27-10 Niners.
12:17 Norwood returns the kickoff to the STL 32.
12:18 Bowman tackles Williams after a three-yard gain.
12:18 Clemens play fakes and completes a 13-yard pass to Kendricks in front of Rogers.
12:20 If the Niners can force the Rams to punt here, Harbaugh should bring in Colin Kaepernick to play quarterback for the fourth quarter.
12:21 Clemens fakes a reverse and completes a pass to Alexander in the flat, who runs 13 yards for the first down.
12:22 Willis tackles Williams after he gains seven yards up the middle.
12:22 Whitner tackles Williams in the backfield for a two-yard loss. Third and five.
12:23 Clemens completes a quick slant to Alexander 11 yards. First and ten at the SF 30.
12:24 Clemens throws incomplete before he gets hit by Haralson.
12:24 Porter lets Clemens pass go through his hands. Third and ten.
12:25 Clemens throws high and incomplete to Lloyd on the left sideline. Brown had tight coverage.
12:26 Josh Brown makes the 48-yard field goal. 27-13 Niners with 12:19 left in the fourth quarter.
12:28 Hunter returns the kickoff from eight yards deep in the end zone to the SF 15.
12:31 Hunter runs off right tackle for seven yards. He runs off tackle very well.
12:31 Hunter runs a counter to the left and picks up six yards and a first down.
12:32 Hunter takes a stretch run off left tackle for one yard. Second and nine.
12:33 Smith rolls right and throws the ball out of bounds.
12:33 On third and nine Smith checks down to Dixon who picks up for six yards.
12:34 Nick Miller lets Lee’s punt bounce at the STL five, so he falls on the ball at the 4, but there are offsetting penalties so Lee will re-punt.
12:36 Tramaine Brock downs Lee’s 64-yard punt at the STL one yard line.
12:39 Clemens play fakes and throws an interception right to Tarell Brown, who runs the ball down to the STL 13. That’s Brown’s second INT of the day. He’s having a very good season, and he will start at cornerback next year, too.
12:40 Hunter off right tackle for four yards.
12:41 Hunter gets tackled in the backfield for a one-yard loss. Third and seven.
12:41 Hunter takes a draw up the middle for nine yards and a first down. First and goal at the at the 1.
12:42 Dixon runs off Vernon Davis’ kick-out block and lunges into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown.
12:45 The refs review the play and say Dixon’s “rear end” was down at the one-half yard line. Second and goal.
12:46 Dixon gets another shot – right up the middle this time – and he scores. 34-13 Niners with 6:30 left in the regular season.
12:48 On the kick return Larry Grant tackles Norwood at the STL 31.
12:49 Clemens completes a short pass to Lloyd in front of Culliver, who gets called for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for body slamming Lloyd after the play.
12:50 Clemens completes a 12-yard pass to Alexander in front of Brown.
12:50 Demarcus Dobbs tackles Williams in the backfield for a one-yard loss.
12:51 Clemens throws deep to the end zone but Brown – in man coverage – breaks up the pass.
12:52 Clemens throws deep again, this time for Lloyd. Whitner tries to bat the pass away but jumps too early and misses everything. Touchdown Rams. 34-20. Goldson gets flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty after play which will be tacked enforced on the kickoff.
12:56 The Rams kick onside and recover. First and ten at the SF 36 with 4:49 left. That pretty much ensures that Kaepernick won’t play in this one.
12:57 Clemens throws deep to Lloyd and Brown gets called for pass interference. The ball was underthrown and Brown had his hands on Lloyd has he was trying to adjust back to the ball.
12:58 Cadillac Williams runs up the middle for a one-yard touchdown. Bowman missed him in the backfield. 34-27 Niners with 4:36 left.
1:01 Touchback. Niners will start at their 20 yard line.
1:02 Smith play fakes, rolls right and completes a very short pass to Bruce Miller for no gain. Second and ten.
1:03 Dixon up the middle for two yards. Rams take their first timeout. Horrendous play call. It’s not the time to go conservative. Now the Niners have third and eight.
1:03 Smith holds on to the ball forever and takes a sack. Crabtree was double covered, but Swain was open. Smith didn’t want to take a shot at Swain deep, apparently.
1:05 Lee punts to Nick Miller, who’s tackled at the STL 47 with 3:37 left.
1:06 Clemens gets flushed out of the pocket to the right and he throws on the run, but Tramaine Brock knocks the pass away.
1:06 Clemens throws to Lloyd who drops the pass. Brown never turned around to find the ball. Big break. Third and ten.
1:07 Clemens scrambles and hits Gibson in front of Rogers. Gain of 21. First and ten at the SF 33.
1:08 Clemens throws incomplete, intended for Gibson again.
1:08 Bowman blitzes and sacks Clemens, who’s down on the turf with a right ankle injury, it appears. He’s assisted off the field. Tom Brandstater is in the game at QB. Third and 17.
1:11 Brandstater throws a ground ball to Alexander. Fourth and 17.
1:11 Alexander drops the first down pass – let it bounce right off his hands. The Niners take over on downs with 2:37 left.
1:12 Smith can’t get the offense lined up properly, so Harbaugh calls timeout and barks at his quarterback.
1:14 Dixon runs off right tackle for four yards. The Rams take their last timeout.
1:14 Dixon powers through the middle for five yards. Third and one.
1:17 Dixon runs off right tackle for three yards and a first down.
1:18 Smith takes a knee. The Niners will hold on and win this one 34-27. They finish the 2011 regular season 13-3. I predicted they would win the division with a 9-7 record. Boy, did they outperform my expectations.