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Flag or not, CB Sherman says play needs to be made

The San Francisco 49ers had Aaron Rodgers stopped. Except they didn't.

DeForest Buckner dragged down the Green Bay Packers' quarterback with 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter of a tied game. The Packers would be forced to punt.

But a yellow flag flew in the secondary. Illegal contact on cornerback Richard Sherman, who was covering Davante Adams on the play. First down.

The flag was the sliver of light Rodgers needed to win the game in regulation, 33-30.

After the game, Sherman was asked what happened on the play.

"Uh nothing really. I covered him," he said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "He gave me an outside release. We kinda ran into each other a little bit. It looked like a sack on the play. I didn't look back and see it. It was a flag."

The Pro Bowl corner, who was mostly ignored by Rodgers all game, didn't gripe about the call. Though it was a tough penalty down the field, it appeared he did contact Adams as the receiver made an in-break.

"Well, it doesn't matter if I agree with the call," Sherman said. "That's what they called. It's football. It doesn't matter if you agree with the call. It's not like, 'Oh I didn't agree with the call,' and they are going to pick it up. They called it. I gotta find a way to do better."

The corner added: "I can't have that penalty ... regardless of how I feel about it. I have to find a way to make that play without getting flagged. That gave him [Rodgers] a shot to win the game, and that's all he needs."

The penalty was a big blow to the 49ers, but it wasn't the worst play of the drive. With the Packers having no timeouts, a tackle in bounds would have made life immensely more difficult for Rodgers. Instead, Niners defenders repeatedly got beat to the sideline.

In the final 19 seconds of the game, San Francisco allowed three passes to be completed and receivers jaunt out of bounds. That doesn't count the opening run of the series by Ty Montgomery that got Green Bay out of a hole and out of bounds to kick-start the operation -- a play Rodgers admitted after the game changed his mentality from going for overtime to playing for the win.

Rodgers picked on corner Greg Mabin on the final drive after the second-year DB entered the game for an injured Jimmie Ward.

Sherman defended coordinator Robert Saleh, noting it was players' mistakes, not the scheme that caused the breakdowns.

"This is one of the [soundest] schemes in football," Sherman said. "That's why you see so many people executing it. When you don't play sound, it can lead to busts in any scheme, and it can lead to big plays.

"We've got to find a way to play disciplined. When we got stops tonight, it wasn't anything special -- just guys doing their assignment. ... Saleh has called great games. We have to find a way to reward him."

In a game of what-ifs, the 49ers didn't close out the road win on either side of the ball. The offense gave Rodgers two cracks at the game-tying touchdown by not picking up first downs, and the defense collapsed at the end.

For all of Rodgers' greatness -- made especially magical on 1.5 legs -- it takes two to tango for a 10-point swing in two minutes of play. The 1-5 Niners did their part in the collapse.

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