SAN FRANCISCO – Mike Nolan left the locker room with no grin, no spring in his step, absolutely no indication his San Francisco 49ers had just shocked their oldest rivals in his head coaching debut.
The jubilant players in the room behind him still knew something remarkable had just happened for the NFL’s worst team in 2004.
Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle caught second-quarter touchdown passes from Tim Rattay, and Michael Adams intercepted Marc Bulger’s pass in San Francisco territory with 52 seconds left as the 49ers hung on for a 28-25 victory Sunday over the St. Louis Rams.
“Just getting rid of that stench from last year, taking advantage of this fresh start, that’s what this game is,” linebacker Jeff Ulbrich said. “To win in a game that’s truly meaningful, that’s great.”
The 49ers erupted for 21 points in the second quarter – more than last season’s 2-14 team scored in any quarter of its season.
San Francisco held on for its first regular-season victory in regulation since Dec. 7, 2003. Both of the Niners’ wins last season came in overtime against Arizona.
St. Louis coach Mike Martz knows he’s in for another round of criticism of his strategies.
Brandon Manumaleuna caught a 6-yard TD pass from Bulger with 2:13 to play, capping a drive that seemed to move far too deliberately, with nonchalant players jogging to the line.
San Francisco ran just 53 seconds off the clock on its next drive, but Bulger threw a pass behind Isaac Bruce across the middle. Adams swiped the deflection out of Bruce’s hands.
“It was a really bad call on my part on the interception,” Martz said. “I wish we could have it back. … I feel sick.”
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