The San Francisco 49ers tried very hard to lose on Sunday, but went ahead and changed their minds and got the win, beating the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-23, at Paul Brown Stadium to improve to 7-6 and reclaim the sixth spot the NFC playoff standings.

Embed from Getty Images

“We almost blew it, but we didn’t,” said DE Nick Bosa, who sacked his buddy Joe Burrow twice on Sunday.

They were up 20-6 in the fourth quarter, but the Bengals tied it up. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers down the field to set up a 47-yard FG attempt, but Robbie Gould missed it and it was overtime to Cincinnati.

The 49ers lost the coin toss, but the Bengals could only manage a field goal. Garoppolo went back to work, marching San Francisco down the field and threw a 12-yard touchdown to Brandon Aiyuk. Aiyuk reached over the pylon, the play was reviewed, the 49ers win.

“From my view, I already knew he scored,” said 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel. “I ran over to the sideline and was standing there with Coach. But he was like, ‘We’re not celebrating until they call it a touchdown.’ And I’m like, ‘Kyle, it was a touchdown.’ He was like, ‘I don’t care. I want to see them call it.’ I knew he scored.”

Like the refs, Aiyuk needed the replay to confirm, but ultimately knew.

“I looked at the ref and he seemed pretty sure I was not in,” Aiyuk said after the game. “A lot of challenges hadn’t been going my way in the last couple of weeks, so I was a little bit nervous. But when I saw the replay, I knew I was in…We’re not really supposed to reach for the pylon unless it’s fourth down, but nobody said anything when I scored.”

Aiyuk had six receptions for 62 yards, while wide receiver Jauan Jennings continues to be vital part of the offense both as a blocker and a receiver. He had three key catches for 46 yards.

“Jauan is a guy who plays with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and it’s one of the reasons that he makes the plays he does,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “He’s been great for us this last month…He’s a very good football player out there, and I thought that was a huge play he made on the sideline that helped us get us down there.”

Garoppolo finished the day 27-of-41 for 296 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

“Jimmy, he just made some plays there at the end that were huge,” Shanahan said. “…[W]e’re a hard team to beat when we don’t turn the ball over at all. We found a way to not turn it over today, which usually I try to sell to our team, ‘If you don’t turn it over, you’re pretty much guaranteed to win almost,’ if you look at the stats with that. That was starting to look bleak for a little bit, but the way he came out on those last few drives was aggressive. He made some big-time throws and one of the main reasons we were able to win today.”

Garoppolo was 6-of-6 for 78 yards on the overtime drive that sealed the win.

“We kept saying that we’ve been in this situation before,” Garoppolo said. “No one blinked. There was a calm feeling on the sideline. You could kind of feel the presence of everyone and everyone was ready for that moment. Guys stepped up like I said. Guys are making plays. Offensive line stepped up huge at the end there with no pressure allowed. It was all those little things coming together.”

George of the Jungle

George Kittle finished the day with 13 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown, giving him six touchdowns in his last six games. And those stats don’t come close to underscoring just how clutch he was.

“George showed up today,” Garoppolo said. “He really did. At the end of the game, George, along with the other guys, stepped up and made plays. That one on the two-minute drive was a hell of a catch by George on the out-route. When you have a guy like that you can lean on, it’s a nice feeling as a quarterback.”

Towards the end of regulation, Kittle made an incredible 19-yard catch on 3rd-and-10, while he had receptions of eight, 21 and nine yards on the overtime drive.

“That dude, that’s a different dude…That’s a special dude,” Aiyuk said and pretty much sums it up.

Kittle also became the first tight end in NFL history to have 150-plus receiving yards and one touchdown in back-to-back games, while being the first 49ers to do it since WR Terrell Owens in 2002.

Dontae Johnson

CB Dontae Johnson was out for Sunday’s game, as his mother, Holli Garner, suffered a heart attack on Friday and passed away over the weekend. Shanahan spoke with Johnson after the game.


  • LB Azeez Al-Shaair, who was in the midst of another monster game, injured his elbow and did not return. The 49ers will have additional imaging done on Monday.
  • CB Ambry Thomas is in the concussion protocol.





Tracy Sandler

Tracy Sandler

I created Fangirl Sports Network as a place for female sports fans to follow their favorite teams with content and coverage that speaks directly to females. It started with one and then eight and now 32 NFL Fangirls and 15 NBA Fangirls.