49ers unwrap Christmas comeback with win over Rams

Even terrible teams have a path to joy this holiday season, as the 49ers capped a rare fourth-quarter comeback with a game-winning two-point conversion with 36 seconds left to edge the Rams in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon, 22-21.

Meeting for the first time at the Los Angeles Coliseum since Sept. 16, 1979, both teams were frustrated and coming off grueling losses. The 49ers’ offense went missing in a 41-13 loss to the Falcons, whereas the Rams salvaged just one field goal in a 24-3 blowout loss by the Seahawks.

After Los Angeles extended a fourth-quarter lead to 21-7, the 49ers (2-13) showed resiliency and refused to let the game slip away. First, Colin Kaepernick (28-for-38, 266 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) capped a 75-yard drive with a 13-yard scramble to cut the Rams’ lead to 21-13.

Then, after a weary and depleted San Francisco defense forced a Los Angeles four-and-out, wide receiver Rod Streater caught a 10-yard pass from Kaepernick to make it a one-point game at 21-20. Replays showed the runner broke the plane ruling, but the play was reviewed and the on-field ruling of a touchdown stood.

49ers head coach Chip Kelly elected to go for the two-point conversion. Kaepernick ran for the go-ahead, two-point conversion in the final minute to lift his team to the 22-21 victory.

The 49ers started the scoring when quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to running back Carlos Hyde. Following an extra point from kicker Phil Dawson, the 49ers led 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

Then the Rams scored two touchdowns in a span of 94 seconds to take the lead.

Running back Todd Gurley responded with a one-yard touchdown run then kicker Greg Zuerlein kicked the extra point to even the score 7-7 with 4:07 left in the first quarter. Wide receiver Tavon Austin sprinted across the goal line on a 30-yard score with 2:33 left in the first quarter. Zuerlein’s extra point put the Rams ahead 14-7 with 2:33 left in the first quarter.

Despite jumping out to an early 7-0 lead, the 49ers trailed the Rams 14-7 after three quarters.

49ers guard Joshua Garnett was initially questionable with a finger injury, but returned to the huddle to start the second half.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter made his debut for the 49ers after being promoted to the main roster Tuesday. Smelter didn’t receive any catchable passes thrown his way despite seeing some NFL action.

While the local fans cheered on their home team, the 49ers were just trying to battle the injury bug and finish strong. Linebacker Gerald Hodges walked off the field with an undisclosed injury. Hodges was replaced by fellow linebacker Carl Bradford.

A tough day turned brutal for the 49ers as Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines went straight at Hyde’s knees to force a fumble. Hyde was carted off the field with a knee injury and was ruled out.

The Rams took advantage of the fumble. Rookie quarterback Jared Goff threw a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Higbee to extend the Rams’ lead 21-7 at 10:38 of the fourth quarter.

The list of injured 49ers players grew to 17. The 49ers announced Friday they have placed veteran wide receiver Torrey Smith on injured reserve and promoted linebacker Wynton McManis to the team’s 53-man roster.

The 49ers have a chance to end the season on a positive note as they return to Santa Clara to host the Seahawks next Sunday. The game kicks off at 1:25 p.m. PST on FOX.