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November 12, 2012

Locking horns

SAN FRANCISCO — A furious, thrilling finish to regulation ended with an overtime dud. A tie — and nobody particularly likes a tie.

Especially not the NFC West-leading 49ers, with a chance to separate themselves against a division rival.

San Francisco and St. Louis played the NFL’s first tie game in four years as kickers from both teams missed overtime field goals in Sunday’s 24-24 outcome.

Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yarder, but the Rams were penalized 5 yards for delay of game. He tried again from 58 as coach Jeff Fisher played for the win, and missed wide right with 2:42 left in OT.

San Francisco’s David Akers missed wide left on a 41-yard attempt that could have sealed it for the 49ers (6-2-1), who lost quarterback Alex Smith to a first-half concussion.

And just when it seemed the 49ers — and Akers’ typically reliable left leg — would have one more chance to win it, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis was flagged for holding Lance Kendricks on third down. That extended St. Louis’ last drive, a costly mistake in a long list of them on an uncharacteristically sloppy day by coach Jim Harbaugh’s team.

Akers booted a tying 33-yarder with 3 seconds left in regulation after Sam Bradford threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 1:09 remaining.

On the first play of OT, Bradford completed an 80-yard pass to Danny Amendola that took St. Louis (3-5-1) to the 2, but the play was called back for an illegal formation. Some 49ers fans got up to leave, then returned to their seats.

The last tie was between Philadelphia and Cincinnati, 13-13 in 2008.

Frank Gore ran for a 20-yard touchdown with 8:23 to go in regulation just 17 seconds after backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick scurried 7 yards for a score. Kaepernick finished 11 for 17 for 117 yards and also had eight carries for 66 yards, calmly leading the Niners after it took several series to find his groove.

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