When the play started, the 49ers were in a hole and needed breathing room.
When it ended, Garrison Hearst was out of breath.
A broken tackle, a nifty move, a turn of speed and Hearst was off on a breathtaking run, going 96 yards for a touchdown in overtime to put an abrupt end to a dramatic passing duel and lift San Francisco to a 36-30 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.
"I just wanted to hit the hole quick and get what I could," Hearst said. "Things happened after that."
It was the longest run from scrimmage in 49er history and upstaged the competition between quarterbacks Steve Young and Glenn Foley.
It even overshadowed Jerry Rice's return after two serious knee injuries that sidelined most of last season.
A Jet punt pinned San Francisco on its four. On the first play, Hearst ran off right tackle, shed a defender at the line of scrimmage, straight-armed another at about the 20 before shaking free of one more at midfield. Picking up blockers, he ran down the sideline, with Terrell Owens clearing the way, and was knocked into the end zone by Mo Lewis' tackle.
"From my view, I was seeing a pack of people flying down the field. All I could say, was 'Go! Go!' " Young said.
Young, coming off his sixth passing title, was 26 for 46 for 363 yards and three touchdowns. Foley was 30 of 58 for 415 yards and three touchdowns.
"They were getting everything going for them," Foley said. "That's part of the game. You have to handle the big emotional swings. That's half the battle."
J.J. Stokes made a leaping 32-yard grab in front of Williams with 1:26 left in regulation, putting San Francisco up, 30-27.
But Foley rallied the Jets, putting together a 60-yard drive keyed by a 19-yard completion to Dedric Ward. John Hall kicked a 31-yard field goal, his third of the day, with no time left in regulation, to tie the game.
Rice showing no effects from what amounted to a year of constant rehabilitation, flashed his old form on a 14-yard touchdown reception. He had six catches for 86 yards.
"I had to channel my energy," he said. "I had so much emotion, I said, 'Jerry, calm down.' "