For the second straight week, the 49ers’ defense found itself pitted against a former Super Bowl MVP who was driving for a winning score with seconds remaining on the clock.
Unlike Eli Manning’s final pass seven days earlier, Joe Flacco’s last-second heave Sunday didn’t find its target in the end zone, giving the 49ers a 25-20 win and halting a four-game losing skid.
But the 49ers also allowed Flacco and a beat-up Ravens offense to gain 420 yards a week after allowing 525 yards to the ailing Giants. Flacco finished with 343 passing yards to become the fourth quarterback this season to throw for more than 300 yards against San Francisco. Like Manning, Flacco wasn’t sacked by the 49ers.
“You’d be a fool not to say last week didn’t creep into our minds, but that’s a way we can bounce back,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “We bounced back and didn’t let them score, and we did a great job of that.”
One difference in Sunday’s game: The 49ers made more plays when the ball was in the air. Linebacker Michael Wilhoite intercepted Flacco in the second quarter, and cornerback Kenneth Acker did the same in the third.
The team’s other cornerback starter, Tramaine Brock, had perhaps his best game of the season, knocking away two end-zone passes to Flacco’s favorite target, Steve Smith Sr., and providing excellent coverage on Baltimore’s final drive. Smith finished with 137 receiving yards and a touchdown.
“When the whole game was going on at the end there, I was kind of like, ‘Oh, my God, this is looking last week’ ” Acker admitted. “I think as we sat there on the sideline as a defense, we just all looked at each other and had the same look in our eyes like, ‘No, not again.’ So we went out there, and Coach made some great calls.”
Hyde hurting – Running back Carlos Hyde said he put too much pressure on his sore left foot when he went down in a heap early in the third quarter.
Hyde went to the sideline but returned to the game and finished with 55 yards on 21 attempts. Rookie Mike Davis was the only other running back who carried the ball. He had one run for no gain on the 49ers’ final drive.
“It just shocked me how bad it hurt when I tried to put too much weight on it, and I just went down,” Hyde said.
The second-year runner didn’t practice Wednesday and went through light sessions on Thursday and Friday. The 49ers’ next game is Thursday. Is Hyde concerned he won’t be ready for the encounter with the Seahawks?
“Hopefully my coaches will let me sit out again, stay off of it, and let it heal so I can be able to go Thursday,” he said.
Quick play – Did wide receiver Quinton Patton step out of bounds before making a pivotal catch for 17 yards during the 49ers’ final drive? They didn’t want to wait to find out.
With Ravens coach John Harbaugh reaching for his red challenge flag, the 49ers quickly got to the line of scrimmage and snapped the ball to Colin Kaepernick, who was tackled for a one-yard loss.
Patton’s catch came along the 49ers’ sideline, and no one nearby reacted with much jubilation to the apparent reception.
“I wasn’t sure,” coach Jim Tomsula said when asked if Patton stepped out. “I couldn’t tell from the angle I was at. We wanted to hurry up and go.”
On the other sideline, Harbaugh acknowledged he threw his challenge flag after the next play began.
“It was late,” he said. “Probably glad we didn’t get it in, honestly.”
Et cetera – Wide receiver Anquan Boldin sat out the 49ers’ final offensive series. Tomsula said a Ravens defender fell on Boldin’s leg on his 51-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Boldin said he fell on the football and it knocked the wind from him.
▪ Tomsula said that safety Eric Reid had the wind knocked out of him and returned to action after missing one play in the fourth quarter. Reid appeared to be in considerable pain in the locker room following the game.
* Tight end Vernon Davis returned from a knee injury suffered in Week 3 but was targeted only once and had no catches. Davis did not start the game and played just 58 percent of the snaps. Only one 49ers tight end, Vance McDonald, caught a pass Sunday. His lone catch went for 10 yards.