Staley unhappy with ref, happy with Davis

49ers left tackle Joe Staley had some harsh words for Saturday night's referee, but a few nicer ones for right tackle Anthony Davis, who made his first start since suffering a concussion in mid November.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 49ers' ran for a franchise record 355 yards in Saturday night's 38-35 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers.

But it didn't prevent Joe Staley from exhibiting sour grapes toward referee Jeff Triplette after the loss.

Staley was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after Colin Kaepernick's fumble led to a Chargers' touchdown when lineman Corey Liuget wrestled the ball away from Staley in the end zone following a sack.

What earned the personal foul? "I told the ref he was terrible at his job,” Staley said.

Those exact words? "I'm paraphrasing."

Staley's frustration likely stemmed from the 49ers being called for illegal formation on back-to-back plays, when right tackle Anthony Davis' was not on the line of scrimmage the play before - negating a Vernon Davis 63-yard touchdown, along with a chop-block penalty on Frank Gore. And on the play Kaepernick fumbled, Staley was called for illegal formation, and would be flagged for it again early in the fourth quarter.

Indeed, Staley looked heated as he went to the sideline following that score, which ultimately was a 14-point swing in the game after the 49ers' had a touchdown negated on the previous play.

But it appeared the 49ers were taking a season's worth of frustration out on the Chargers' defense, particularly in the first half when they ran for 182 yards. For the game, San Francisco averaged 8.9 yards per carry en route to setting the new franchise mark.

For most of 2014, San Francisco has lacked consistency in the running game that became a staple of the contending teams of the last three seasons.

"Even starting in camp, it has just been injury after injury," Gore said. "It’s hard to win when you don’t have your top guys, but I am happy for the guys who did step up. We are still fighting as a team, and that is all we can do now."

Gore's 52-yard run was his longest since 2009, while Kaepernick's 90-yard scamper was the second-longest run by a quarterback in league history, behind Terrelle Pryor's 93-yarder in 2013 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kaepernick and Gore combined for 309 rushing yards, becoming the first teammates to each have 150 since in the same game since 1976.

Right tackle Anthony Davis played a big role, getting his first start in five games after suffering a concussion in a win over the New York Giants Nov. 16.

"He’s a dominant right tackle in the NFL. I think we ran the majority of our run plays over to his side, the right side and had a lot of success over there. So really, really great to see him back on the field," Staley said.

Davis missed the 49ers' first three games of 2014 with a hamstring injury suffered late in training camp after being held out for the entire offseason program to recover from shoulder surgery. In his first quarter of action in Week 4 against the Eagles, he suffered a knee injury that kept him out of their next two games.

Davis returned from that injury to start in four-straight games before sustaining the concussion in New York. Before this season, Davis made 64-straight regular season starts to begin his career after being drafted 11th-overall in 2010. His replacement in nine starts, Jonathan Martin, ranked 66th of 79 offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus' run-blocking grades.

"It's frustrating. Trying to figure it out. I've never seen that many rushing yards in a blown lead. That doesn't happen," Davis said of Saturday's loss, when San Francisco squandered two 21-point leads to the Chargers.

“For the first time in a long time, we had our whole group together," Gore said of the offensive line. "They did a great job. They were physical.”

The 49ers aren't likely to set another franchise record in their season finale next week when they play the Arizona Cardinals, leaders of the NFC West heading into Sunday with the league's sixth-best rushing defense.

Next story:

49ers key mistakes aid Chargers comeback

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