Stand-up guy Garcia determined to bounce back

<P>Jeff Garcia wasn't at his best during Sunday's showdown against the St. Louis Rams. In fact, he may have been at his worst. </P>

"That was one of my lower moments as the 49ers quarterback," Garcia said Monday. But he refused to dwell on his poor play in San Francisco's 27-14 loss to the Rams that knocked the Niners out of first place in the NFC West and out of a share of the best record in the NFL.

In fact, the Pro Bowl quarterback - his voice unwavering and his face filled with conviction - said it only makes him more determined. Garcia spoke for nearly 20 minutes in the 49ers locker room Monday afternoon about how the Niners will lick their wounds and learn from their disappointing performance against the Rams. Himself in particular. And it was difficult to walk away not believing Garcia meant every single word he said.

"I had a bad day," said Garcia, who entered Sunday's game as the NFC's top-rated passer but left it with one of the worst statistical games of his three-year NFL career with the 49ers. "And I'm not going to be satisfied with that, because I'm going to use it in a sense to make myself better and not want to go through that sort of day again."

Garcia continued: "And that's what drives me to be in here and do the necessary things that I need to do today to prepare for next Sunday. And I'm going to do those things. And I'm going to come out firing, I'm going to come out excited, I'm going to come out pumped up knowing that I have to reprove myself. And not only to everybody out there, but more so to myself. And I'm ready for that.

"I think it's a growing experience for myself, a learning experience for myself, and it's something that I don't want to compound, but overcome and make myself better because of it. And I think that's the situation as to how I'm going to approach it, and I know that come next week, I'm going to be a much better quarterback because of it. Everything that I do take out of it is going to be a building block to making me a better quarterback."

Garcia had been a great quarterback through San Francisco's first 11 games, and his name was being passed around as a legitimate MVP candidate. Then came Sunday, when Garcia completed just 13 of 36 passes for 146 yards with two interceptions. He didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time since last November, snapping his strings of 15 consecutive games with at least one scoring pass and eight straight games with multiple scoring passes.

Garcia had a passer rating of just 25.9 for the game, and that figure stood at 14.2 at halftime. The performance dropped him from first to third this week in the NFC passer ratings while dropping his rating more than six points to 90.6

"It was a tough day at the office," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said. "Every quarterback is going to have one of those." But at the same time, Mariucci said Garcia will shake it off and nobody surrounding the Niners has lost any confidence in the quarterback who has led the team to a 9-3 record and its best start since 1997. "This team has done a great job of not pointing the fingers at any one play or any one person or any one thing or any one phase of our game," Mariucci said.

"And Jeff ... I thought he was great after the game, you know. He's always a stand-up guy, and he wants to play better than that. And he can and he will and he has. "It won't be his last big game. He's going to have a lot more big games. And the next big game he will have, he will have been through it, he will be better, and he'll be just better prepared to handle the bigness of that sort of game."


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