The 49ers took care of business early Sunday. The aid they needed later in the day to punch a playoff ticket never came.
But San Francisco remain in strong pursuit following a 33-14 road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
The team has won four straight games and has recorded a third straight season of at least 10 victories (10-4) under Jim Harbaugh. Tampa Bay (4-10) lost for just the second time in six weeks.
An Arizona Cardinals loss at Tennessee would have sent Harbaugh and his squad to the postseason with two weeks left in the regular season, but the Cards (9-5) topped the Titans overtime, 37-34. (To clinch a spot, the 49ers also needed a Philadelphia Eagles loss; Philadelphia was defeated, 48-30, at Minnesota.)
"Our plane has a TV, so if the reception is good," Harbaugh said of the Cards game before its ending, "we'll be able to watch it."
The 49ers received, to borrow a Harbaugh turn-of-phrase, an “A-plus-plus” effort from quarterback
"Kaepernick really put on his cape," Harbaugh told reporters.
Kaepernick led an 11-play, 62-yard drive that chewed up nearly seven minutes of game clock on the team’s first possession. He rolled to his right and found
Midway through the second quarter, a 25-yard connection between Kaepernick and Boldin converted a 3rd-and-15, eventually setting up a 47-yard
The successful three-point attempt, which gave San Francisco a 10-0 edge, extended Dawson’s franchise record streak of 21 consecutive tries. Dawson also executed a 43-yarder midway through the third quarter for No. 22.
The team’s first-half lead stretched to 17-0 with Kaepernick’s spot-on 52-yard touchdown toss to Davis on the other side of the first half’s two-minute warning.
Davis’ dozen scores this season give him 52 for his eight-season career, tied for the seventh-most touchdowns – with Dave Casper, a member of the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s – among tight ends in NFL history.
Davis, who also has a touchdown in five straight games, became the league’s only end ever to record two separate seasons of at least 12 touchdowns; he registered 13 in 2009.
Speaking of records, running back
The Bucs offense, piloted by rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, went three-and-out on his first two drives and punted away each of its five first posessions overall. The unit also recorded just two first downs before racking up five on a seven-play, 80-yard drive just before halftime.
Glennon culminated it with an 11-yard touchdown pass to wideout Vincent Jackson, who bested the coverage of cornerback
Brown (ribs) saw his first action in four games.
Again working in the two-minute-style offense, Glennon led his the Bucs 92 yards in 10 plays on their third possession of the second half. Glennon’s 24-yard touchdown toss to Tim Wright drew the hosts closer, 20-14, early in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay’s signal-caller finished the game with 174 passing yards, the two scores and a late interception into the hands of rookie free safety
Kaepernick and Co. responded by traveling 77 yards on 17 plays for another Dawson field goal. The 21-yarder was the specialist’s 23rd straight make – and it gave San Francisco some breathing room.
Running back/special teamer
Dawson made it 24 straight with a 35-yard field goal with less than three minutes remaining. With four makes, he is 27-for-30 overall in 2013.