49ers Inside Slant

Quarterback Jeff Garcia's problems reached the point Sunday that 49ers receiver Terrell Owens was asked if the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback should be benched in favor of Tim Rattay.<BR><BR>

Furthermore, Owens did not dismiss the question, failing to give Garcia anything resembling an endorsement in the aftermath of the 49ers' 35-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

"Who knows?" Owens said. "That's not my position to go ahead and make a quarterback change, but Rat (backup Tim Rattay) did a good job when he was in there."

Garcia struggled through his worst game since becoming the 49ers' full-time starting quarterback in 2000, as the 49ers lost their third consecutive game to fall to 1-3 on the season.

Garcia completed just 11 of 23 passes for 108 yards, with three interceptions and no touchdowns. The 49ers were losing 35-0 at the start of the fourth quarter when Rattay came into the game to replace Garcia.

Rattay completed 12 of 18 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.

"We did some things positive," Owens said of the offense when Rattay entered. "We threw the ball down the field. I was excited when Tai caught that long ball. It's been awhile since I've seen that. He stood back there and threw it deep and gave us a chance. That's all you can ever ask for as a receiver."

Garcia is nursing a strained groin muscle, but he made no excuses for his play on Sunday. He seemed completely off his game, as he missed several wide-open receivers, looked jittery in the pocket and threw an incomplete pass when he could've run for a touchdown early in the third quarter.

"My overall play needs to improve, whether it's accuracy or making better decisions on the football field," Garcia said. "I just need to find a way to be a better football player for the team. ... In many ways, we're letting ourselves down, our coaches down, letting our fans down and letting the organization down. We need to find a way to get out of this slump."

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES --QB Jeff Garcia looked to be hampered by a groin strain, though he said the injury had no effect on his poor performance Sunday against the Vikings. Garcia completed just 11 of 23 passes for 108 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns.

--CB Rashad Holman returned to his role as the 49ers' nickel back. Holman missed two games with a groin pull. Holman and safety Tony Parrish were beaten for one of Randy Moss' three touchdowns.

--LT Derrick Deese did not suit up for the third consecutive game because of a right ankle sprain. Rookie Kwame Harris started in place of Deese and struggled mightily. He yielded three QB sacks. Deese is expected to return to practice Wednesday and start in Sunday's game against the Lions.

--RG Ron Stone had a rough day in the Metrodome. Stone was called for two false starts and one holding penalty.

--RB Kevan Barlow led the 49ers with 72 yards rushing on 11 carries before leaving in the fourth quarter with a neck sprain. Barlow is expected to play Sunday against the Lions.

--LG Eric Heitmann missed his third consecutive game with a right ankle sprain and will likely miss Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, as well.

--CB Jason Webster might be able to return to practice in a couple of weeks after sustained a hyperextended right knee six weeks ago. The leg also had a small fracture of his tibia. He will likely be available to play Oct. 19 against Tampa Bay.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Coach keeps saying we're all in this together, but we got to find a way to win. That was the quote last week, 'We got to find a way to win.' Now what?" -- WR Terrell Owens after Sunday's loss.



PASSING OFFENSE: F -- QB Jeff Garcia struggled through the worst game of his NFL career, as he completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes (11 of 23) for 108 yards and three interceptions. He missed open receivers throughout the game. WR Terrell Owens was held to just five catches for 55 yards. He did not turn any of his short receptions into long gains, as is his strength. Niners QBs were sacked four times, with LT Kwame Harris responsible for three of them.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Statistically, the 49ers had a good day running the ball, but when they needed 1 yard on fourth down in the third quarter, Kevan Barlow as stopped. Barlow finished with 72 yards on 11 carries, while Garrison Hearst had 56 yards on 11 tries.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- The pass rush was virtually non-existent, as Vikings QB Gus Frerotte had all the time he needed to pick the 49ers' secondary apart. WR Randy Moss had a field day, with eight catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns. CB Mike Rumph continues to struggle, as he yielded a 22-yard scoring pass to Nate Burleson. Frerotte finished with a remarkable 157.2 passer rating, completing 16 of 21 passes for 267 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: D-minus -- The Vikings made a statement in the first quarter when they ran the ball down the 49ers' throats. The Vikings' first two scoring drives were highlighted by a bruising ground attack that the 49ers could not stop. On Minnesota's second scoring drive, they gained all of their yards on the ground, capped by Onterrio Smith's 5-yard TD run.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The 49ers received enough kickoffs, but they were stymied in their attempts at gaining suitable field position. Their average starting point on six kickoffs was the 26-yard line. Cedrick Wilson's returns kept getting shorter and less aggressive as the game wore on. P Bill LaFleur averaged 33.7 yards on three punts, but it was no factor in the loss.

COACHING: F -- The 49ers continue to make the same mistakes that have plagued them in their three-game losing streak. They had four false-start penalties and a costly taunting penalty on Ronnie Heard on a kickoff. Coach Dennis Erickson's offense is showing no spark, and Owens is taking his frustration out on offensive coordinator Greg Knapp on the sideline. Defensively, the 49ers left Moss single covered on two of his three scoring passes, which is inexcusable.

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