MARKUP — Yes, there was some good stuff. The 49ers played excellent defensive football for the first three quarters, pretty decent defense in the fourth quarter and adequate enough defense in overtime to put the offense in position to win--until kicker David Akers' wide-right field goal attempt. Along the way, we witnessed saw a demonstration of quarterback Colin Kaepernick's growth. For every mistake he made Sunday — and there were several bad ones — he rallied and made a positive play. After giving up a safety in the second half on a panic intentional grounding penalty out of his own end zone, he led a drive for a field goal. After his awful turnover on a botched option pitch in the fourth quarter allowed the Rams to tie the game at 10-10, he took off on a scramble and seemed to hit an extra gear for a 50-yard gain to the Rams' 17-yard line and set up a go-ahead field goal by Akers.
MARKDOWN — The 49ers had no business even allowing the game to reach overtime and should have spent the flight back to the Bay Area lacerating themselves for that. They were ahead, 10-2 with less than four minutes remaining and gave away the ball to the Rams on a wretched execution of a pitch play by Kaepernick, allowing St. Louis to tie the game. The 49ers re-took the lead at 13-10 but gave the Rams too much time on the scoreboard when Kaepernick stayed in bounds on a third-down scramble before Akers' kick — and
MARKUP -- Someone needs to say this, so I will. Alex Smith, benched though healthy, occupied his space on the sidelines in extreme teammate-like fashion. He conversed and went over pictures and coverages with Kaepernick on the sidelines between offensive series and appeared to be supportive. He did not once allow steam to escape his eardrums, even when Kaepernick goofed up. Had to be killing Smith but he was a pro.
MARKDOWN -- Kaepernick simply cannot throw that option pitch so high and so horribly when asked to do so, whether it's in the first quarter or fourth quarter. But especially in the fourth quarter. The play call was a bizarre one by either head coach Jim Harbaugh or offensive coordinator Greg Roman — do you really want to risk that kind of thing inside your own 20-yard line while holding onto a narrow lead? — but the pressured Kaepernick hurried the one-handed pitch to Ted Ginn Jr.
MARKUP — The 49ers are still safely in first place in the NFC West and basically just have to make sure they beat Seattle in three weeks to win the division. They also have the tiebreaker over the Bears for the second playoff spot. So no reason to panic, despite the way they blew the lead in the fourth quarter.
MARKDOWN — They blew the lead in the fourth quarter. In fact, the two games between the Rams and 49ers this season, including last month's tie result, have had the same feel as another series in the 49ers' past. Remember when they weren't a great outfit under Mike Nolan or Mike Singletary but still always managed to play tight, tough games against better Arizona Cardinals teams? The Rams of 2012 seemed to be playing the same role against the 49ers of 2012.
MARKUP — In his second straight start indoors, Kaepernick at least initially had an easier time of conquering noise and any jitters. The Edward Jones Dome was a little bit more than half full and there were also a lot of 49er fans in the house, so the anti-Niner sound wasn't overwhelming. Last week in New Orleans when he received a low snap in the shotgun, Kaepernick mildly panicked and rushed a throw, leading to an interception. This time on a low snap in the second quarter, he calmly lifted the ball and hit Delanie Walker for a first down. Kaepernick also made one smart scramble for another first down, making sure to reach the ball ahead of the downs marker as he went out of bounds.
MARKDOWN — All that said, Kaepernick's weaknesses were certainly exploited by Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a defensive guru. The safety taken by No. 7 early in the second half — which may or may not have been the correct call — was just the worst case scenario. But it was clear all day long that by mixing up their on mid to deep coverage where Kaepernick wanted to go with his throws, the Rams were often discombobulating him. He held onto the ball too long, refusing to throw checkdowns, thinking his legs would bail him out — but the Rams also focused on containment very well, leading to the sacks or the wild throwaway from the end zone that led to the safety call.
MARKUP — The 49er defense looked like a championship unit for most of the day. Holding any NFL team without a touchdown or field goal through three quarters is an impressive feat, any time. And it was especially necessary on a day when the offense was having its struggles. Through the first three periods, the Rams outgained the 49ers, 173 yards to 165 yards, but were trailing on the scoreboard, 7-2. The reason? The 49er defense buckled down whenever it was necessary. And on the Rams' best scoring chance, a 4th and 1 play at the 4-yard line, they tried deception by breaking from the huddle with an empty backfield and trying a pass to the corner of the end zone. The 49er defense was not fooled and cornerback Terrell Brown broke up the play.
MARKDOWN — When linebacker Navarro Bowman signed his rich contract extension last week, the 49ers did not give him the raise to see him commit an inexcusable personal foul penalty on the game's second play. Bowman kicked Rams' offensive lineman Harvey Dahl after the whistle in a pileup. It gave St. Louis a first down and kept a drive going — although there was no eventual harm because the 49er defense managed to stop it at midfield. That wasn't the case in the final two minutes when safety Dashon Goldson drew his own flag for charging helmet-first into the slide of St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford.
MARKUP — We are moving into the season's final four games and running back Frank Gore seems to be healthy. He wasn't spectacular Sunday but still got the tough yards and scored the 49ers' only touchdown.
MARKDOWN -- The shoulder injury to 49er receiver Mario Manningham--he left the game in the fourth quarter and never returned--was and is unfortunate. Michael Crabtree has established himself as the team's unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver. But Manningham has been just as effective, especially in tight games such as Sunday's. If he's out longer than and it means more work for Randy Moss — who made a key third down catch in overtime-- it will be interesting to see that storyline play out.
Columnist Mark Purdy's early analysis of the good and bad for the 49ers' in their 16-13 overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams here Sunday. Check back later for his full column after locker room interviews. Contact Mark Purdy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.