"We certainly think we should be better than 2-14. But I do think there was tremendous growth," Spagnuolo said. "You grow more in a situation like this than you do when it's all going easy, and you find out a lot about people in a situation like this.
"When you're going to build something, it's good to have the right people. We've got a lot of the right people."
"Outside of the wins-losses record that we've had, I think he's going to be successful and if he stays here, he'll be successful," Jackson said. "If he leaves, it's not a decision I make. I believe the front office will do what's best for the organization.
Jackson said there was no relief to be done.
"I'm never happy that the season is over," Jackson said. "The goal is and always will be the goal is to win a Super Bowl, so I hate once again the season is ending."
Record-setting kicker David Akers showed off a strong left arm to match his left leg as Michael Crabtree bamboozled defenders on a perfectly executed trick play for a touchdown that put the 49ers up by 17 late in the third quarter. It appeared to be the icing on a dominating performance that wrapped up the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. Instead, it helped build just enough of a cushion against the usually offensive-challenged Rams.
Akers broke the NFL single-season field goal record last week and finished with 44, including five in the first half of the two St. Louis meetings. He missed on a 48-yarder, but clicked from 36 and 42 yards.
Crabtree and Vernon Davis had big days for a team short of pass catchers and Tarell Brown had a pair of interceptions that led to touchdowns as the 49ers (13-3) beat the Rams (2-14) for the second time in five games. The 49ers held St. Louis to just 157 total yards in a 26-0 victory that clinched the NFC West in Week 12 but were hanging on at the finish of the rematch after the Rams scored two touchdowns in just 13 seconds.
The Rams scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, six better than their NFL-low game average, but were down to untested Tom Brandstater and third-and-17 after Clemens injured his right leg on a sack by NaVorro Bowman with 2:46 to go. Brandstater threw two incompletions, the 49ers took over at their own 40 and needed just one first down to seal it - and exhale.
San Francisco seemingly had cemented the win in the final minute of the third quarter on Akers' first career touchdown pass for a 27-10 lead. The 49ers finished 6-2 on the road, the franchise's best showing since 1996.
Harbaugh is just the fourth rookie head coach to win 13 games and third by the 49ers, topped by George Seifert's 14-2 showing in 1989.
Attendance was announced as 55,990, about 9,000 shy of capacity at the Edward Jones Dome, but the stadium appeared no better than half-full and drained quickly in the second half.
The 49ers began drives inside the St. Louis 35 on their first two touchdowns, and capitalized on Terrell Brown's interception of a flea flicker from running back Jerious Norwood to Clemens on the go-ahead score. Two plays after the pick, Crabtree slipped Josh Gordy's tackle on a sideline pattern and Quintin Mikell also missed on a 28-yarder that made it 14-7.
Clemens showed some nifty moves while dodging tackles on an 18-yard scramble for the Rams' first rushing touchdown in three weeks and the early lead, and Smith matched him on an 8-yarder in the final minute of the first quarter. Notes: Gary Pinkel, who coached the 49ers' Aldon Smith and the Rams' Danario Alexander at Missouri, was on the sideline before the game. ... The Rams cancelled the usual pregame pep rally and live music outside the stadium because of high gusting winds. ... 49ers FB Bruce Miller (left knee) was sidelined in the second quarter, but was in uniform testing it with sprints before halftime.