Anatomy of an offensive breakdown
QUARTERBACK: Ken Dorsey, despite the promise he has displayed this year, is a second-year backup who still is far away from his best days. He wouldn't have been playing against the Seahawks if Tim Rattay was healthy. When the offense broke down around him, Dorsey didn't have the experience or developed skill to carry it. Add to that a sprained groin Dorsey suffered during the game, and it's not surprising he couldn't get the Niners into the end zone, particularly when you factor in his four turnovers. "He played a team on the road that is playing very well," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said Monday. "It's just another lesson for him in growing up and being an NFL quarterback." RUNNING BACK: Kevan Barlow was not at the top of his game due to lingering knee and rib injuries, and showed in his hesitation to hit holes. That split-second tentativeness makes a difference in establishing and sustaining drives over the course of a game. FULLBACK: Fred Beasley missed a few blocks that he usually makes, and when the Niners gave the ball to Jasen Isom on a third-and-1 play, he was stuffed for no gain. SPLIT END: The Niners were playing without Brandon Lloyd, their No. 1 receiver, and that had a ripple effect throughout the receiving corps, particularly since Lloyd received heavy double-coverage over the first two games. Curtis Conway was forced to start here instead of flanker, where he started last week and is more effective, and he didn't have the single coverage he enjoyed the week before against New Orleans. Conway normally would be the third receiver, but that role went to rookie Rashaun Woods, who was ineffective and failed to make plays on the ball on passes that turned into Seattle's two interceptions. LEFT TACKLE: Kyle Kosier held up reasonably well, but he should be the team's starting right guard and still is getting used to the important left tackle position, at which he certainly isn't the team's first option. LEFT GUARD: Eric Heitmann played well enough in pass protection, but he couldn't get any push up front for the running game, like the players around him. CENTER: Brock Gutierrez is a solid backup, but he's no Jeremy Newberry, and he had trouble holding his ground in the middle against Seattle's big boys up front. "We miss the leadership in there," Erickson said. "Some of the things (Newberry) does call-wise. Being an All-Pro, obviously he can play." RIGHT GUARD: Someday, rookie Justin Smiley will be a quality NFL guard. Sunday wasn't that day. He was outclassed on the right side, and beaten twice on plays which Dorsey fumbled away possessions. The more-experienced Kosier would have been playing most of the time in that spot had regular left tackle Kwame Harris been healthy. "Justin had some good plays and some bad plays," Erickson said. "He did some real good things, and he got schooled sometimes." RIGHT TACKLE: This wasn't veteran Scott Gragg's best effort, but if everybody on offense had played as well as he did, the Niners' scoring streak certainly would still be alive. TIGHT END: Not much blame for the scoreless effort can be placed here, where the Niners got their usual solid one-two punch from Eric Johnson and Aaron Walker, who combined for seven receptions/ FLANKER: Like Gragg and Johnson, Cedrick Wilson played well enough to contribute to the Niners at least putting points on the board, if not winning. KICKER: Nobody knew it at the time, but it came down to Todd Peterson in the second quarter to keep the streak alive. Peterson is Mr. Reliable from 40 yards and in on field goal attempts, and you can feel pretty good about trotting him out for any attempt from 45 yards and in. When you get over that distance, his leg strength becomes an issue. That means he occasionally will come up short on 46-yarders, even when he hits them down the middle. This was one of those times. If Peterson had put a few more inches of distance on this one, it would have bounced over the crossbar instead of back toward the field. But - like the continuation of San Francisco's amazing scoring streak - it was not to be. Four regulars missing - including the starting quarterback and No. 1 receiver. At least two other starters coming off injuries. Add it all up across the board, factor in substandard performance in particular areas and what do you get? The Niners' first scoreless effort in almost 27 seasons.
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