Frank Gore scored the deciding touchdown on a 30-yard run with 4:05 to go and seldom-used Maurice Hicks scored untouched on a 73-yarder on the game's first snap in a 24-20 comeback victory over the sagging Rams. The combination of Hicks and Gore helped the 49ers rush for 217 yards without injured Kevan Barlow.
"It shows the heart of a 3-12 team," Gore said. "I think any other team would have laid down."
They also fell behind of the Houston Texans (2-13) in the "race" for the first overall draft pick, presumably for Heisman Trophy winner Bush if the junior tailback leaves Southern Cal.
At 3-5, they finished with their first losing record at home since 1998. That's also the last time they lost at home to the 49ers.
"I feel like we embarrassed the city of St. Louis," wide receiver Isaac Bruce said. "Today wasn't a good day for us."
The game might have been the home finale for Marshall Faulk, who's been used sparingly this season. The team showed a highlight montage at the end of the game.
Faulk said he was undecided whether to retire, but it also might not be his decision. He caught nine passes for 44 yards and had three carries for 5 yards.
"This is a business and you've got to understand that," Faulk said. "I always speak in business terms in this game and I learned that when I was young."
"I don't think I would have gotten here if I hadn't won games in the past," Smith said. "That's how quarterbacks are ultimately evaluated."
"When you run the ball like that," Smith said, "it makes it easy."
Hicks broke free on a simple off-tackle play to open the game and finished with 109 yards on 10 carries. He entered the game with only 135 yards all season. Gore, who also scored on a 10-yarder in the second quarter, appeared to be jammed up the middle before a cutback left clear sailing on the clinching score.
St. Louis also drove to the 31 at the finish before Ben Emanuel intercepted a tipped pass.
"It's definitely disappointing when you go and give your all, and don't quite get there," Martin said. "I just needed to make a few more plays to get us over the hump."
Martin was 14 of 18 for 178 yards in the first half. Wilkins had field goals of 50 and 51 yards, making him 4 for 4 from beyond the 50 this season.
Notes: 49ers CB Bruce Thornton was carted off with a knee sprain and his backup, Derrick Johnson, had a stinger that Nolan said would leave him questionable for the season finale. ... Holt has 54 touchdowns, breaking a tie with Elroy Hirsch for second place on the franchise list. He had 104 yards receiving by halftime, his 39th career 100-yard game and 54th of his career. ... Wilkins also made four field goals from the 50 and beyond in 2003 and '04. ... Nedney's previous career best was 53 yards on Sept. 15, 2002 against the Cowboys.