Niners Notes

While a lot of the focus was on the failures of the 49ers' offense, which produced no touchdowns in a 13-12 loss Sunday to the Cleveland Browns, the play of the defense raised some eyebrows. <BR><BR>

Through three quarters, the Browns managed just 123 total yards, as the 49ers demonstrated an aggressive defensive approach that had quarterback Kelly Holcomb on the run. The 49ers sacked Holcomb three times for minus-22 yards. But in the fourth quarter, the 49ers were content to sit back with a four-man rush and play coverage.

As a result, the Browns totaled 128 yards in the fourth quarter and produced two touchdowns to pull out the victory.

The decision of 49ers defensive coordinator Jim Mora to stop calling blitzes was certain to be second-guessed. But Mora said he called four or five blitzes on the Browns' final drive, which lasted 17 plays.

The 49ers never played "prevent" defense during that drive, which is a three-man rush. "We played our normal defense," Mora said. "We had most of our success with a two-deep zone, and that's what we played a lot on that final drive."

The Browns took over at their own 9-yard line with 6:19 remaining and put together a methodical 17-play drive in which they scored the winning points with 29 seconds remaining on Holcomb's 11-yard pass to Andre' Davis.

"We were trying to keep them in front of us," 49ers coach Dennis Erickson said. "The feeling was that they needed a touchdown and we needed to keep them in front of us."

Mora said the final play could have been defended but there was a breakdown in the 49ers' underneath zone.

Said Erickson, "I didn't have a problem with what was called, I had a problem with us not playing it better."


--CB Rashad Holman did not suit up for Sunday's game, though he returned to practice last week. He should be ready to resume his role as the team's nickel back this week against the Vikings. Holman missed two games after sustaining a groin strain in the season opener.

--LT Derrick Deese did not play the last two weeks with a right ankle sprain. The team considers the injury a chronic ailment. He might share time the rest of the season with first-round pick Kwame Harris.

--RT Scott Gragg returned to the starting lineup for the first time this season after missing most of the first two games of the season with a left ankle sprain he sustained Aug. 14 in an exhibition game.

--LG Eric Heitmann is expected to miss another one to three games with a high right ankle sprain.

--OL Kyle Kosier, who started the first two games of the regular season at right tackle in place of Scott Gragg, has been moved to starting left guard position in place of injured Eric Heitmann.

--TE Eric Johnson, who sustained a broken right collarbone on Aug. 23, finally started to show some healing in an X-ray last week. Johnson will have X-rays performed every week, which will allow the team to determine if they will get him back for the final few weeks of the season or allow them to place him on injured reserve and fill his roster spot.

--CB Jason Webster was scheduled to have an MRI examination Tuesday on his right knee. If the hairline fracture in his tibia is healed, he can increase his rehabilitation load. The team is hopeful he can return to practice in three weeks.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I take full responsibility for not winning this football game. I could have done things better, we all could have done things better" -- QB Jeff Garcia on the loss to the Browns.

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