49ers prevail in overtime




SAN FRANCISCO -- The Texans closed the book on a disappointing 2005 campaign by falling 20-17 in overtime to the San Francisco 49ers at Monster Park in both teams' season finales on Sunday.

A 33-yard field goal by Joe Nedney with 3:52 left in the extra period handed the Texans their league-worst 14th loss of the season, including a second overtime defeat.

The Texans jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead in wet and windy conditions, but were outscored 20-7 the rest of the way.

Despite not allowing a single sack, the Texans' passing game was in flux. Quarterback David Carr left just before halftime with an elbow injury after passing for only 23 yards. Tony Banks finished with 173 passing yards and a touchdown, but he threw two costly interceptions. His first pick was returned 40 yards for a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter, while his second interception set up the 49ers' game-winning field goal in the extra period.

With running backs Domanick Davis and Jonathan Wells sidelined because of injury, rookie running back Vernand Morency filled in admirably with 83 rushing yards on 21 carries (4.0 avg.) and a three-yard touchdown run.

The 49ers' ground game gashed the Texans for 182 net yards behind Frank Gore's 108 yards on 25 carries (4.3 avg.). San Francisco's running game was a big reason why the 49ers were able to control possession for a little more than 44 minutes.

Morency touched the ball on the game's first three plays from scrimmage, gaining 12 yards on a reception and five yards on two carries before Chad Stanley punted.

Starting from their 16-yard line, the 49ers were penalized twice for 13 total yards before Jason Babin sacked quarterback Alex Smith for a six-yard loss at the three-yard line. Andy Lee's punt traveled only 18 yards, giving the Texans a first down deep inside San Francisco territory.

Morency caught a six-yard pass and rushed twice for 12 yards. A third down pass to wide receiver Andre Johnson in the end zone was batted away by cornerback Shawntae Spencer, leading to Kris Brown's 21-yard field goal with 9:18 left in the first quarter.

Babin ended the 49ers' drive for the second consecutive time when he sacked Smith for a four-yard loss. On the ensuing punt, safety Ramon Walker blocked Lee's kick. Fullback Chris Hetherington recovered the kick and was tackled for an eight-yard loss at the San Francisco 18.

Less than three minutes later, Morency scored to cap a five-play, 17-yard drive. Brown's extra point gave the Texans a 10-0 lead with 4:48 remaining in the opening quarter.

Following Stanley's second punt of the game, the 49ers advanced to midfield behind 16 rushing yards from Maurice Hicks and a 24-yard defensive pass interference penalty on cornerback Demarcus Faggins.

The drive ended, though, when linebacker Troy Evans tipped Smith's pass intended for fullback Terry Jackson. The ball sailed in the air, and strong safety Glenn Earl picked it off at the Houston 27 for no gain.

Before halftime, San Francisco put together a 14-play, 76-yard scoring drive. Smith completed six passes for 56 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown toss--the first of his career--to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Nedney's extra point cut the Texans' lead to 10-7.

The 49ers continued their momentum in the third quarter when Smith led the 49ers' offense on another 14-play drive for 56 yards over 7:27. He completed three passes for 32 yards and rushed for four yards before Nedney's 42-yard field goal tied the game at 10.

On the Texans' opening series of the second half, Banks led the offense on a four-play, 62-yard scoring drive. He completed two of his three pass attempts for 56 yards to Bradford, who hauled in the 25-yard touchdown that helped give Houston a 17-10 advantage.

On the third play of the Texans' following series, Banks' pass intended for wide receiver Donovan Morgan was intercepted by safety Mike Adams, who returned the ball 40 yards for a touchdown. Nedney's extra point tied the game 17-17.

Banks bounced back by completing his next three passes for 32 yards, but a 15-yard illegal crackback penalty on Bradford led to another Stanley punt.

When the Texans' offense returned to the field with 10:15 left in the contest, Banks led the unit to the San Francisco 13 on four passes for 33 yards. Brown entered the game to attempt a 31-yard go-ahead field goal, but he missed wide right.

An 11-play, 44-yard drive by the 49ers stalled at the Houston 35. San Francisco lined up for a 53-yard field goal before deciding to punt with 59 seconds on the game clock.

Instead of forcing the issue, the Texans ran out the clock to take the game into overtime.

After losing the coin flip, the Texans kicked off to begin the extra period. Gore gained four yards on three carries before Lee punted to the Houston 31.

The 49ers returned with 9:18 left in overtime when Banks' pass to Bradford was broken up on third-and-two at the San Francisco 44. Smith's 39-yard pass to wide receiver Arnaz Battle moved the 49ers to their 44-yard line, where the drive stalled.

Banks gave the Texans some breathing room when he found Morgan for an 11-yard gain to the Houston 16 on the second play of the drive. But Adams collected his second interception on Banks' next pass. He stepped in front of Bradford near midfield to pick off the throw, and then lateraled the ball to safety Ben Emanuel, who eventually was tackled at the Texans' 21-yard line.

Nedney stepped in two plays later to kick the game-winner.

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