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2012 Plays of the Year: Big Plays

Posted by Alex Espinoza on February 26, 2013 – 2:29 PM

We need your help in selecting the top plays from the 2012 season. We’re asking our Faithful fans to choose the top takeaway, touchdown, sack, big play and biggest hit of the season. Next, the winning five plays (one from each category), will move on to the championship round to determine 49ers.com’s “Top Play of 2012.”

Watch our “Top 5” video highlights on the best plays for each category, then vote in the poll section of the corresponding blog post to see which top play will reach the championship.

Help us crown the top play of 2012 by choosing your favorite big play from this past season. You can vote for your favorite big play up until Thursday at noon. Let’s take a look at the five nominees.

1. David Akers’ 63-yard Field Goal vs. the Green Bay Packers

Usually the sound of hitting the crossbar is a dreaded one for an NFL kicker. For David Akers in the season opener at Green Bay, it was a blessing.

With just seconds left on the clock before halftime, Akers lined up in 49ers territory for a 63-yard kick. It sailed through the crisp Wisconsin air and hit the crossbar, bouncing over for 3 points before Akers was mobbed on the field by his teammates as they headed into the locker room. The conversion tied an NFL record and gave the 49ers a 16-7 lead in the eventual 30-22 win.

The field goal was also set up by Colin Kaepernick’s first major contribution in a regular season game, as his 17-yard run to the Green Bay 45-yard line set up the lengthy field goal try.

2. Dashon Goldson’s Fake Punt Rush vs. the New England Patriots

All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson looked more like a running back than a defensive back. With the 49ers facing a 4th-and-10 from their own 41-yard line near the end of the first quarter in New England, the offense got a spark from one of their best defenders.

Goldson took up his post as the up-back in the punt formation, standing a few yards in front of punter Andy Lee on the left side of the line. Long-snapper Brian Jennings snapped a quick ball to Goldson and he ran past the gunner on the left side of the field before sprinting down the sideline and eventually picking up 31 yards before being brought down.

3. LaMichael James’ 62-yard Kickoff Return vs. the New England Patriots

As LaMichael James walked the sidelines in the fourth quarter at Foxboro, he started hearing words of encouragement from his teammates. Playing in just his third NFL game – on the road and in front of a nationwide audience, no less – James was expected to be a sparkplug for the 49ers.

The rookie delivered big-time, rattling off a 62-yard kickoff return that halted the Patriots’ momentum after they scored four straight touchdowns to turn a 31-3 49ers lead into a 31-31 tie. James turned the tide of the game with his long return, setting up a short field for San Francisco.

Michael Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick would go on to connect on a 38-yard touchdown the very next play, giving the 49ers the game-winning score in a thrilling 41-34 win at Foxboro. The 49ers victory stands as New England’s first and only December home loss since 2002.

4. NaVorro Bowman’s 4th-down Stop vs. the Atlanta Falcons

The situation was simple: Get a stop and go to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers held a 28-24, fourth-quarter lead at the Georgia Dome in the NFC Championship, when the Falcons faced a 4th-and-4 at San Francisco’s 10-yard line. When the Falcons broke the huddle and Roddy White lined up in the right slot, Bowman knew the ball was headed his way.

So the two-time All-Pro linebacker held his ground against the talented wideout, who tried to cross in front of his face near the first-down marker. Bowman swatted the pass to the ground with his left hand and his teammates raised their arms in unison, celebrating their ticket to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII.

5. Michael Crabtree’s Touchdown vs. the Baltimore Ravens

Once Kaepernick took over the reins as the starting quarterback, Crabtree emerged as his favorite target. The two combined for eight touchdown connections after Kaepernick earned the starting role in Week 11, including three in the postseason.

Crabtree showed off his skills after the catch all year long, but perhaps he saved his best for Super Bowl XLVII. With his team facing a 28-6 deficit early in the second half, Crabtree ran an out route to the left side of the field before catching a pass from Kaepernick. Shortly after the ball was in his hands, cornerback Cary Williams and safety Bernard Pollard tried to tackle him, but Crabtree bounced off both defenders and kept his balance before running into the end zone for the score.

While the 49ers ultimately lost the Super Bowl, Crabtree’s catch sparked a 23-3 comeback attempt in the second half against the Ravens.

UPDATE: Congratulations to NaVorro Bowman for winning with nearly 45% of the vote!


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One Response to “2012 Plays of the Year: Big Plays”

  1. By lamar on Feb 27, 2013 | Reply

    Now we have more money in the cap from Smiths trade i think we should go after D.Revis and B.Lloyd for one year to see how they do and put the tag on D.Walker says D.Goldson dont wanna be tag and that would save us money in the cap for next year for CK7 and Crabtree… but it would be nice if the 9ers can still work somthing out with Goldson because hes a real good safety…. its hard to find an hard hitting ball hark safety these day

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