Forget that the Seattle Seahawks mauled the 49ers' first-team defense the first three times they were on the field. Forget that Seattle built a three-touchdown lead against that suspect defense before the game was even 12 minutes old. What the 49ers want you to remember about their 28-18 preseason loss to the Seahawks on Saturday is what happened after that. Well, not quite everything that happened after that.

The Niners turned over the ball twice on promising drives in the second and third quarters that could have gotten them back in the game with plenty of time remaining. Combine those missed opportunities with the way Seattle shoved the football through the Niners in the early going, and San Francisco had its first step backward in the preseason.

"You have to be concerned," Niners defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield said. "Your defense doesn't ever want to have this happen. You don't want to be worried about the first series of the game, because you don't know what defense is going to come out. You have to settle down and play. We shouldn't have to wait until the second quarter until we got in a groove and started playing our football."

The good news for the 49ers came well after Seattle had built a 21-0 lead with 3:28 still remaining in the first period. In fact, it came after halftime, when young tailbacks Paul Smith and Kevan Barlow saw their first action of the exhibition season.

Both were impressive, particularly Barlow, who didn't get his first professional carry until the fourth quarter. But in the final period, Barlow carried 13 times for a game-high 66 yards rushing. He ploughed into the end zone from one yard out to give the 49ers their final touchdown, then ran in the two-point conversion to provide the game's final points.

"Everything fell into place," Barlow said. "I was just trying to get into a rhythm and do what I know I can do."

Smith, playing just the third quarter, also showed some good burst while gaining 29 yards on six carries.

"They both looked fresh," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said. "They both looked fast. I was encouraged by both of them."

But Mariucci couldn't say that about everything he saw Saturday.

"I would have liked for us to have played this game better," he said. "We need to be better on both sides of the ball, and we need to start better. We sort of settled down, but it was a little too late."

Niners Digest Top Stories