Scoreless in Seattle
That's what people will remember for posterity about this very forgettable San Francisco performance - the Niners' failure to score for the first time since the fourth game of the 1977 season. That's a streak of 420 games - by far the longest ever in league history. But it hardly was the only thing that went bad for the Niners on a day they bottomed out after two near-miss losses to begin the season. The Niners were drubbed in every way and every direction, with quarterback Ken Dorsey committing four turnovers and the defense wilting after a game effort in the early going. San Francisco was out-gained 374-175 while falling to 0-3 for just the seventh time in the team's 59-year history. "I don't know that I've been around very many games like that," a weary Niners coach Dennis Erickson said. "Obviously, if I had, I wouldn't be in coaching very long." The Niners were outclassed in every area, falling behind 17-0 after one quarter, 24-0 at halftime and 34-zip late in the third quarter before the Seahawks finally called off the dogs. The 49ers were doomed by crucial mistakes in their 30-27 loss at New Orleans last week and their 21-19 setback to Atlanta in the season opener. This time, the mistakes continued, but the Niners failed to find the substance with which they were statistically able to outplay their first two opponents. "It's embarrassing," Erickson said. "We didn't play well, and we magnified that by turning it over, penalties ... You name it, we did it. It doesn't get any worse than this. We got our rear ends kicked in every aspect of the game, and there's really not much more you can say." Well, there is something more they can say. The 2004 Niners can say they were the team to end a scoring streak that had defined the offensive image of the franchise over the past three decades. Little did the Niners know that, when they lined up for a Todd Peterson field goal midway through the second period, that it would be their best chance to extend the streak. But Peterson got a little bit underneath his 46-yard attempt. The kick was high and down the middle, but it failed to carry as it began its descent, plunking off the crossbar and bouncing back harmlessly toward the field. Short, by inches. That defined the San Francisco offense, which was short all day. "Everyone's embarrassed and feels really bad about (the streak ending)," said Niners tight end Eric Johnson, who had five receptions. "We just couldn't get anything going. We can't let this be us. And it's not us." But it was Sunday. Dorsey completed 19 of 32 passes for 153 yards, but he was sacked three times, threw two interceptions, lost two fumbles and had a quarterback rating of 45.4. Dorsey's final two turnovers ended San Francisco's last opportunities to avert the shutout. He was intercepted in the end zone after the 49ers reached the Seattle 28 midway through the fourth quarter, then fumbled after being hit by former 49er Chike Okeafor with five minutes to play after the Niners had reached the Seattle 32. The 49ers never touched the ball again. "Things just started getting bigger and bigger and bigger and pretty soon, you're in such a hole that you have no chance to get out and you just hope you can get home after the game," Erickson said. "And that's what happened to us." And it happened from the start. The mistakes started early after the San Francisco defense forced the Seahawks to a three-and-out on Seattle's first offensive possession. On a third-and-2 near midfield, Dorsey attempted to hit Rashaun Woods on a quick inside slant to move the chains. But Dorsey threw behind Woods, who tipped the ball as he attempted to reach back for it while he slid to the ground. Ken Lucas - on his way to a big game at cornerback - stepped up and grabbed the football, returning it 25 yards before he was pushed out of bounds. The Seahawks were off to the races, and they never looked back. The San Francisco defense gave one final valiant effort - stiffening to limit the Seahawks to a 35-yard field goal by Josh Brown - but it wasn't long before Seattle was knocking on the door again. The Niners quickly went three-and-out, and on first down after the punt, receiver Bobby Engram burned cornerback Jimmy Williams in the slot and hooked up with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (21 of 30 for 254 yards passing) for a 60-yard completion that set up the first of Shaun Alexander's three touchdowns, this one coming on a 1-yard run. The floodgates had opened. Dorsey went back to pass two plays later and was hit by Seattle tackle Cedric Woodard as he attempted to throw. The ball squirted out of Dorsey's hands at the San Francisco 15 and Woodard, who blew past rookie guard Justin Smiley on the play, recovered the fumble. The fumble was upheld by an official's review after the Niners challenged the play, claiming that Dorsey's arm was moving forward when the ball came out. Four plays later, the Seahawks were in the end zone again after Hasselbeck connected with Alexander on 3-yard scoring pass. With less than 13 minutes elapsed, the Seahawks had a 17-0 lead, and the rout was on. "They kind of got after us and hit us with some things really, really early," said San Francisco defensive end Brandon Whiting, who was playing in his first game with the Niners. "They got us off balance, and just from there, they poured it on. It wasn't our best day, definitely." Definitely. And obviously. The Niners showed some life by driving 40 yards to set up Peterson's field goal attempt. But that proved to be San Francisco's last attempt at making a game of it. The Seahawks tacked on another Alexander 1-yard touchdown run for a 24-0 halftime lead, then limited the Niners to just nine yards of offense in the third period, which they opened with a 68-yard scoring march after taking the second-half kickoff. The Niners were pretty much a lifeless bunch the rest of the way. And in the end, a scoreless bunch, too - for the first time in almost 27 years.
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