Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throws a pass against the Los Angeles Rams in the first half during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

End of 49ers’ playoff run leads to talk of Jimmy Garoppolo’s future

With Jimmy Garoppolo’s days in a San Francisco 49ers uniform perhaps numbered, neither he nor some others around him were ready to talk much about it on Sunday.

“I’m not gonna sit here and make a farewell statement or anything right now. It’s the last stuff on my mind,” Niners coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after San Francisco lost to the Los Angeles Rams 20-17 in the NFC Championship Game.

“Jimmy has batted his ass off. He battled today. He did some unbelievable things today. I love coaching Jimmy,” Shanahan said.

Tight end George Kittle, one of Garoppolo’s favorite targets and among the Niners’ biggest offensive weapons, wasn’t enjoying the topic of possibly losing the quarterback, either.

“I mean, lot of unknowns. Yeah, it’s not fun to think about. Kind of more just processing losing the game before the Super Bowl, which isn’t a lot of fun. But I’ll get to those emotions whenever they come.”

Garoppolo, 30, has one year remaining on the five-year, $137.5 million contract he signed with the 49ers in February 2018. He is due to make $25.5 million next season.

Garoppolo is an eight-year veteran who has played the past five seasons for the 49ers. But the team dealt three first-round draft picks to the Miami Dolphins for the right to move up in the 2021 draft and select Trey Lance third overall.

With Garoppolo injured during the season, Lance appeared in six games and made two starts, completing 57.8 percent of his passes for 603 yards and five touchdowns. He also carried 38 times for 168 yards and a score.

Garoppolo said he thought it would take a few days for thoughts of his future to “start to settle in a little bit.”

“Emotions are high after a game, win or loss. It’s one of those things you gotta be glad it happened. Just smile from it, think about the good things. … Just the fight and the battle in this team throughout the entire year has been really impressive. And I love those guys,” Garoppolo said.

He has thrown for 11,852 yards and 71 touchdowns in the regular season. In seven postseason games, he has completed 80 of 132 passes for 962 yards and four touchdowns, with six interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) with the George Halas Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rams set as 4-point favorites to beat Bengals in Super Bowl

The Los Angeles Rams have been set as four-point favorites to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Feb. 13.

The Rams, who knocked off the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 Sunday night in the NFC Championship Game, are four-point favorites at a variety of sites, such as Draft Kings, Caesars Sportsbook and Fan Duel. BetMGM set the line at 3 1/2 points.

The Bengals, who as seven-point underdogs rallied from 18 points down to upset the host Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 in overtime in the AFC Championship Game earlier Sunday, have been the underdogs in two of their three playoff games.

The AFC North champs defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in the wild-card round as six-point favorites and were three-point underdogs before toppling the top-seeded Tennessee Titans in the divisional round.

The NFC West champion Rams were three-point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals, two-point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl champ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and 3 1/2-point favorites over the 49ers.

While the Bengals have covered throughout the postseason, they were only 10-7 against the spread in the regular season, according to The Athletic. The Rams went 8-9 against the spread during the regular season and are 2-1 in the playoffs.

The Bengals, who went 4-11-1 last season and finished last in their division, were listed at +10,000 to win the Super Bowl before this season began, according to odds website The Lines.

Among seven betting websites, four set the Super Bowl total at 49 1/2 points, while three others listed it at 50.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) celebrates in the fourth quarter during the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

4th-quarter comeback sends Rams past Niners, into Super Bowl

Matt Gay kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1:46 remaining and the Los Angeles Rams are headed to the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons after notching a 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night at Inglewood, Calif.

Travin Howard recorded the game-clinching interception with 1:09 left as Los Angeles snapped a six-game losing streak against the 49ers. Cooper Kupp caught 11 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and Matthew Stafford completed 31 of 45 passes for 337 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Rams.

Los Angeles will face the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl on Feb. 13 in its home stadium in Inglewood. The Bengals defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game earlier Sunday.

The Super Bowl appearance will be the fifth in franchise history for the Rams — two coming when the franchise was located in St. Louis.

Jimmy Garoppolo completed 16 of 30 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns for San Francisco, which blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle caught scoring passes, and Jimmie Ward had an interception.

Gay’s game-winning boot was set up by Stafford’s 25-yard completion to Kupp to the 49ers’ 12-yard line.

After the score, San Francisco couldn’t move the ball, and Aaron Donald’s pressure forced Garoppolo to make a desperate underhanded toss that Howard picked off to seal the victory.

Odell Beckham Jr. caught nine passes for 113 yards for Los Angeles, which outgained the 49ers in total yards 396 to 282 and had big edges in offensive plays (76 to 50) and first downs (25 to 16).

The 49ers led 17-7 after Garoppolo spotted a wide-open Kittle in the end zone and connected on a 16-yard scoring pass with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter.

Los Angeles responded with Stafford tossing an 11-yard scoring pass to Kupp to cut the deficit to three with 13:30 left in the game.

The Rams tied the score at 17 on their next possession when Gay booted a 40-yard field goal with 6:49 left in the game.

San Francisco led 10-7 at halftime courtesy of Robbie Gould’s 38-yard field goal as time expired. Gould has converted 21 of 21 field goals in the postseason during his career.

The Rams struck first when Stafford hit Kupp for a 16-yard touchdown on third-and-13 with 8:46 left in the half. The score capped an 18-play, 97-yard drive that took 9:33 off the clock.

The 49ers knotted the score when Samuel caught a receiver screen from Garoppolo and shed four tackles along the way to a 44-yard touchdown with 6:10 remaining in the half.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (89) is upended by the San Francisco 49ers in the first half during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams TE Tyler Higbee (knee) out of NFC title game

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee sustained a knee injury and was later ruled out of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Higbee was injured in the first quarter and limped off the field. The Rams ruled him out early in the third quarter.

The 29-year-old Higbee caught two passes for 18 yards before exiting. He has nine catches for 115 yards in three games this postseason.

Higbee caught 61 passes for 560 yards and matched his career high of five touchdowns in 15 regular-season games. The receptions and yardage were the second most of his six-year career, all with the Rams.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Kansas City, MO, USA;  Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon (1) slips a tackles attempt by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson (55) and Cincinnati Bengals safety Vonn Bell (24) in the first quarter during the AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Mandatory Credit: Albert Cesare-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals stun Chiefs in OT to clinch long-awaited Super Bowl return

Evan McPherson sent the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1989 with a 31-yard field goal in overtime, capping an 18-point rally en route to a 27-24 upset of the host Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Cincinnati, which had the worst record in the NFL two seasons ago, overcame a 21-3 first-half deficit against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City, holding the high-powered Chiefs to three points after halftime.

Joe Burrow threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and the rookie McPherson went 4-for-4 on field goals for the fourth-seeded Bengals, who will face either the Los Angeles Rams or San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Feb. 13.

Mahomes passed for 275 yards, three touchdowns and two picks for Kansas City. The second-seeded Chiefs, who got the ball first in overtime last weekend and drove for the winning touchdown against Buffalo, once again won the overtime coin toss Sunday.

However, Mahomes was intercepted on the third play on a deep ball that was broken up by Jessie Bates III and intercepted by Vonn Bell. Burrow and Joe Mixon helped move the ball deep into Kansas City territory, and McPherson drilled his kick to stun the home crowd.

With the game tied 21-21, McPherson snuck a 52-yard field goal inside the left upright with 6:07 to play in the fourth quarter, giving the Bengals their first lead of the game.

That, of course, left more than enough time for Mahomes, who drove the Chiefs inside the Cincinnati 10 with a chance to tie or win the game.

On the next-to-last play of regulation, Mahomes attempted to buy time deep in the pocket before he was stripped by Sam Hubbard. Kansas City recovered, but it forced Harrison Butker to attempt a 44-yard field goal, which he drilled at the buzzer to force overtime.

Trailing 21-3, the Bengals finally generated some momentum in the final 65 seconds of the first half, beginning with Samaje Perine taking a screen pass 41 yards for a touchdown to get the visitors within 21-10. Then after the Chiefs drove to the Cincinnati 1, the Bengals tackled Tyreek Hill inbounds on the final play of the half, causing the typically crisp Kansas City offense to leave points on the board.

Cincinnati’s defense opened the second half strong, as well. The Bengals forced punts on the first two Chiefs possessions and then got within 21-13 on a 31-yard McPherson field goal.

Two plays later, 303-pound lineman B.J. Hill tipped a Mahomes pass and intercepted it, leading to Burrow’s TD strike to Ja’Marr Chase on third-and-goal from the 2. The ensuing two-point conversion pass to a wide-open Trent Taylor tied the score at 21.

Even after Burrow was intercepted by L’Jarius Sneed, Cincinnati’s defense forced another punt, sacking Mahomes on third down for the second consecutive drive.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) stretches before the AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs Jan 30 Afc Championship 21

Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah (knee) exits AFC title game

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah injured his left knee in the first quarter and exited Sunday’s AFC title game against the host Kansas City Chiefs.

Uzomah returned to the field early in the third quarter in street clothes, sporting crutches and a big knee brace.

NFL.com reported that Uzomah sprained his left MCL and was slated to undergo an MRI exam.

The Bengals initially termed Uzomah as doubtful to return but later downgraded him to out during the third quarter.

Uzomah was hurt on an incomplete pass in which he was the recipient of a hit from Kansas City linebacker Anthony Hitchens. He hobbled to the sideline and was carted to the locker room.

The 29-year-old Uzomah had 13 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown in Cincinnati’s two playoff victories. The seven-year veteran who has spent his entire career with the Bengals established career bests of 49 receptions, 493 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games during the regular season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders hire Dave Ziegler as GM; Josh McDaniels reportedly next coach

The Las Vegas Raiders hired Dave Ziegler as their general manager and reportedly are close to hiring Josh McDaniels as head coach, both from the New England Patriots.

The Raiders announced Ziegler’s appointment on Sunday, and multiple outlets reported McDaniels, the Patriots’ longtime offensive coordinator and a former Denver Broncos head coach, would be joining him.

Ziegler, 44, had been with New England since 2013 and spent the 2021 season as the director of player personnel. He replaces Mike Mayock, who was fired after the Raiders’ 26-19 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC wild-card round.

Ziegler spent three seasons in the Broncos’ scouting department before joining the Patriots. He worked for three seasons as New England’s assistant director of pro scouting, four seasons as director of pro personnel and one as the assistant director of player personnel before being promoted to director of player personnel for 2021.

McDaniels, 45, would replace Jon Gruden, who resigned in October after being linked to offensive emails. Interim coach Rich Bisaccia led the team to a 7-5 record the rest of the season and a playoff berth.

McDaniels led the Denver Broncos to an 11-17 record before being fired after Week 13 in his second season on the job in 2010.

He spent the following season as the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, then returned to the same role with the Patriots, which he previously held from 2006-08.

In early 2018, McDaniels accepted — and then backed out of — the job as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

–Field Level Media