SANTA CLARA –- The 49ers exploded for a franchise-record 355 yards rushing.
But in a season in which nothing has gone right for the 49ers, it could only be expected the 49ers would still lose a game they had no business losing.
The 49ers squandered a 21-point third-quarter lead Saturday night at Levi's Stadium, and a week after they were officially eliminated from the playoff race, the 49ers hit their low point of the season with a 38-35 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers.
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“Right now, there’s not much to say other than keep fighting and get our last regular-season win,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “That’s the goal. But that’s a tough one. Everybody feels it.”
The 49ers (7-8) rushed for more yards than any losing team in NFL history. Running back Frank Gore had 158 yards on 26 rushing attempts, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick had 151 yards on seven carries.
Kaepernick’s a 90-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the second longest in franchise history behind Garrison Hearst’s 96-yard touchdown to beat the New York Jets on opening day in 1998. It was also the second-longest touchdown run for a quarterback in NFL history, behind Terrelle Pryor’s 93-yard run for the Raiders against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.
“I’m more worried about the outcome of the game,” Kaepernick said.
The loss was the fourth in a row for the 49ers, who entered the season as expected Super Bowl contenders. With the 49ers expected to part ways with Harbaugh after the season, it was just another head-scratching game in a lost season.
“We’re trying to figure it out,” 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis said. “I’ve never seen that many rushing yards and a blown lead. It doesn’t add up.”
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“Yeah, it sucks,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. “Yeah, I mean. . . yeah, frustrating season, frustrating game.”
Davis started just his fourth game of the season, and he provided a lift for the 49ers running game. Gore said the difference Saturday night was that the 49ers’ starters on the line were on the field together.
“My O-line was there,” Gore said. “All year, we missed one guy here and one guy there. I think that’s what was the problem. My O-line dominated.”
But as well as the 49ers played for most of the game, which included a season-high point total, they could never finish off the Chargers, who kept alive their playoff hopes.
“It’s tough. It’s tough,” Gore said. “I got to take my hat off to them. They kept fighting. They made plays. They got the win. It’s just been a tough year for our team. Injuries after injuries. It’s hard to win when you don’t have your top guys. But I’m happy for the guys who did step up. We’re still fighting as a team. That’s all we can do.”