SAN FRANCISCO Evidence that the Rams were more intent, even desperate, to win Sunday: They attempted two fake punts, one from their end zone, in a 24-24 tie with the 49ers.
Both were successful, and the second fake a 19-yard pass to tight end Lance Kendricks extended a 14-play touchdown drive that allowed the Rams to regain the lead with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter.
The first surprise play came at the end of the first half as the 49ers seemingly forced the Rams to punt from deep in their territory with 49 seconds remaining. When the 49ers sent Chris Culliver from the corner to try to block Johnny Hekker's punt, however, Hekker fired a pass to the player who was opposite Culliver, and the Rams picked up a first down.
Said Hekker: "It wasn't even a fake called from the sideline. It was something San Francisco did that was unsound. They left our gunner wide open and didn't bring anyone out to cover him. It's something we were ready and prepared for."
"That takes a lot of gumption," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of executing a fake when the punter is in his end zone. "And they did it, backed up as far as they were. And they executed it very well."
Harbaugh said the 49ers were aware that Hekker, a rookie, was a quarterback in high school and ran the scout team at Oregon State.
Hekker threw a two-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal for the Rams' only touchdown against Seattle on Sept. 30.
"That punter was a quarterback at Oregon State," 49ers special-teams player Darcel McBath said. "We were well aware that he could throw the football pretty far."
McBath and the 49ers seemed to have the edge on special teams when, following a 49ers touchdown, Tramaine Brock stripped the ball on the Rams' kick return and McBath recovered at the St. Louis 20-yard line. Frank Gore scored a touchdown on the next play.
But Hekker struck again on the ensuing Rams drive when he threw a strike to Kendricks after the 49ers stopped St. Louis on third down.
"We've been practicing that one for a while," Hekker said. "It was a genius brainchild of coach (Jeff) Fisher and (special-teams) coach (John) Fassel. "It worked just as we drew it up in practice."
Trouble with slots Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola, playing his first game since injuring his collarbone in Week 5, caught 11 passes for 102 yards against the 49ers.
Amendola plays out of the slot, a position that has been a handful for the 49ers' secondary dating to last season, in three-receiver formations.
Amendola's total would have been much higher if not for an illegal formation penalty on the first play of overtime that wiped away an 80-yard gain to the San Francisco 2-yard line.