Jaquiski Tartt costs 49ers with huge drop in NFC Championship loss
The San Francisco 49ers saw the NFC Championship game slip away in the fourth quarter Sunday, in part due to a huge missed opportunity on defense.
With just under ten minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Los Angeles Rams had the ball down by three and in desperate need of a successful drive. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford then made an ill-advised throw deep over the middle of the field which was all but begging to be intercepted.
49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt was in prime position to reel in the pick, with no Rams receivers around him. Essentially, all he had to do was catch what was essentially an arm punt. Somehow, Tartt dropped it.
Tartt shows why most defensive backs are not wide receivers #SFvsLA
— Clete Holmes (@Clete27) January 31, 2022
My wife when I throw her the keys pic.twitter.com/TYpsIpKsXC
— David Kent Clark (@davidkentclark) January 31, 2022
Had Tartt hauled in the interception, the 49ers would have had solid field position with just over nine and a half minutes left. More importantly, the Rams were already out of timeouts, so San Francisco could have played conservative and ran a decent chunk of time off the clock. If the 49ers played their cards right and managed a couple of first downs, they could have effectively ended the game, or at least forced the Rams into a two-minute drill situation.
Instead, Stafford and the Rams got a huge break and took advantage. That drive ended with a game-tying field goal, and Los Angeles got a defensive stop on San Francisco’s next drive. That gave the Rams the ball back, and they successfully drove downfield for another field goal. An interception by linebacker Travin Howard wound up clinching the game for Los Angeles in the final minute.
There is a strong possibility that the 49ers would have seen the game out if Tartt makes the pick. At the very least, it makes the Rams’ task much more difficult.
The 49ers have had some issues with wide receiver drops in recent years. As it turns out, a drop by a defensive back will be a defining moment for the 2021 team.