The 49ers blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter Sunday in Cincinnati but left as winners after an overtime drive that heavily featured George Kittle saved the day for a 26-23 win.
Kittle caught four passes for 38 yards on the drive and Brandon Aiyuk made an 11-yard catch-and-run to seal the victory for San Francisco.
Joe Burrow led the Bengals’ comeback effort with two touchdown passes to Ja’Marr Chase in the final 10 minutes of regulation to tie the game at 20. Robbie Gould missed a kick at the fourth-quarter horn that would have won the game, and the Bengals kicked a field goal to take the lead, but Jimmy Garoppolo found Kittle, Jauan Jennings and Aiyuk enough times on the final drive to split a two-game road trip and return above .500.
Here’s what the 49ers had to say after the game.
On the team:
I was just real proud of them. The defense, you know, put us in plenty of positions to finish.
On Aiyuk’s winning catch:
I think they were just playing man coverage and it was just a situation where we got back down there and was first down so they could honor the run. And we just ran a bootleg in broad or you. could cross him. Didn’t expect it to score, just hopefully get us inside the 3.
But the move that he made was unbelievable. I still don’t know how he got in, didn’t really trust until they made it official.
On Jauan Jennings:
Jauan is a guy that plays with a lot of energy, a lot of passion. It’s one of the reasons that he plays. He’s been great for us this last month.
I mean, you guys know his personality and everything but when you get his — first of all in the run game, how explosive and violent he is and how good of a blocker, but in the pass game he’s as explosive a tight end as there is.
On Garoppolo’s final drive:
He made some plays there at the end that I thought were huge. Especially with their pass rush going. I think we’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. Usually I try to sell to our team if we don’t turn it over, we’re pretty much guaranteed to win almost, if you. look at the stats with that. But that was starting to look bleak for a little bit.
But when he came out on those last two drives, was aggressive, made some big-time throws and one of the main reasons we were able to win it.
On Ambry Thomas’ two hands-to-the-face penalties:
I know when you get those on an interception and the sack, it’s a big deal. But I thought he held his own for the most part today. He’s going against a good receiver, he’s got a lot of skill, so I’m not going to beat him up over that. It was a real tough situation.
On Dontae Johnson missing the game:
Dontae Johnson was going to start for us tonight, and I just talked to him before I came in here but his mom had a heart attack on Friday and he lost her this morning. Her name is Holli Garner. So that was a real emotional day for Dontae and the team found out after the game, but I’m just happy that Ambry came in, stepped it up, the guys played well around him. Real happy that even though it was such a dark, tough day for Dontae that he was able to get out there and be with his mom when it happened.
On Jimmy G leading the final drive:
He’s got all the confidence in the world in the guys. Just believing in the o-line that they make the right blocks and guys like us and all the other guys making the right plays.
On the Bengals’ comeback effort:
They got some great players over there. Their coach called some great plays, and you know, they get paid too.
On Thomas’ tough day:
My rookie year I got beat for three (touchdowns) at nickel. I’m covering somebody that might have a gold jacket, Brandon Marshall. And all that was learn and listen. Look at me now.
On getting into the end zone for the win:
I didn’t know that I was in. I looked at the ref — he seemed pretty sure that I was not in. A lot of challenges haven’t been going my way the past couple weeks so I was a little bit nervous but when I saw the replay I knew I was in.
On his touchdown play:
I just kind of felt like as I was running that way, whoever it was, he didn’t really have a good angle and he was kind of behind me. So we’re not really supposed to reach the ball for the pylon unless it’s fourth down, but nobody said anything to me when I scored.
On George Kittle:
That dude, that’s a different dude. Huge, third-down plays, plays all over the field.
On Garoppolo’s presence late in the game:
Jimmy’s a dog. He’s a dog. When we’re inn the huddle and the quarterback has no doubt that we’re going down to win the game, everybody feels that.
On the touchdown to Aiyuk:
BA was the first look. I saw him break open and he hit the jets after that. I haven’t seen him move that fast in a while but it was impressive to get to the pylon.
On the last drives:
Toward the end of the game, I had a feeling of when they were playing soft and outside and we had a couple of leverage on the George at the end there.
On what he said to teammates before final drive:
No magic words or anything but just guys looking at each other in the eyes. You know, we’ve been here before, we’ve done this before annd we just gotta go finish the game. You know, after they hit the field goal, there was an excitement on the sideline, you could feel that we just needed a touchdown to go win and so we did.
George showed out today, he really did. The first one, yeah, might have been a PI. I’m really not too sure. Just at the end of the game, George along with all the other guys, they stepped up and made plays. The one on the two-minute drive, that was a hell of a catch by George, kind of that little out route. When you have a guy like that you can lean on, it’s a nice feeling as a quarterback.
On Aiyuk’s touchdown:
I knew he was in, too. The ref told me there was a zero percent chance he was in.
On the feeling as the game turned:
Definitely confident the entire time. They have an unreal offense. Their defense definitely came to play today. They did not allow us to run the ball like we wanted to. But definitely, I have confidence in my defense. I have so much confidence in my special teams, you know, they showed out with two turnovers. We don’t win the game without them. So definitely a rollercoaster of emotions.
I have confidence in Jimmy no matter how he plays. I know that he’s very good under pressure and he has that quick release that allows him to hold onto the ball just a little bit longer, allows guys to get into that second window if need be. But the fact that he just trusts us to make those plays and he just gives us the opportunity, I love that.
On Garoppolo passing:
He threw the ball 41 times? That’s why I’m so sore.
On sacking friend Joe Burrow:
Felt good until they took it away. But I eventually got him, so it was nice.
On talking to Burrow:
His teammates were helping him up and I said “I got it, I got it,” and helped him up.
On the Bengals’ comeback:
It’s tough, you just gotta stay in it. I think Fred does a great job of keeping our mind in it. Just got to dig deep.
On the offense’s winning drive:
I told Arden “If we score right here, I might cry.” I don’t think I cried.
On his ankle injury during the game:
It was one of those situations where I just stepped on Huff’s foot or somebody’s foot so my ankle just kind of rolled a funny way. Just the initial feeling was like “Woah”.
On his facial reaction to losing OT coin toss:
Yeah, I take coinn tosses pretty serious. Pride myself on winning though, so I forget who called in the beginning again. I think they called tails and it was heads, something like that for sure. Gotta call tails, this time it’ll work.
On message to defense amid Bengals’ comeback:
I feel like everybody stayed pretty even keeled honestly. I just tried to keep the guys in and keep them positive. You know, not make any moment too big. You go out there, the fans might be louder but it’s still the same kind of game out there. It’s still football, so everybody just had to do their job.