Tuesday notebook

The 49ers have gotten off to a slow start this season. That statement is pretty obvious, considering the team is 0-4 for the first time since the 1979 season. But in each of those four defeats, the 49ers have also shown a propensity for being blown out early.

The 49ers have been outscored 48-3 in the first quarter of their games this season. Considering the team's lack of firepower on offense, the 49ers are not a team constructed to dig its way out of deep holes.

It appeared the 49ers were going to get on the scoreboard first Sunday night against the St. Louis Rams, as they took the game's opening drive to the Rams' 22-yard line in the first quarter. But when QB Tim Rattay took an 8-yard sack to the 30-yard line on third down, it pushed the 49ers out of field-goal range. Coach Dennis Erickson elected to send out punter Andy Lee, who promptly drilled it into the end zone for a touchback.

"When we got down like we did on the first drive, we need to get a few more yards and at least get a field goal," 49ers TE Eric Johnson said. "It definitely hurt us not scoring right off the bat when we put together a nice drive. We basically need to win the first quarter. If we win the first quarter, things become a lot easier."

The 49ers' offense has struggled and the players and coaches are frustrated because the team has gotten behind by so much that they've had to toss aside their game plan because of the huge early deficits.

The 49ers fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and 24-0 at the end of the half.

"When it's 14-0 or even 17-0, you don't have to get out of your plan," coach Dennis Erickson said. "But when it's 24-0 at halftime, you have to throw it. We're throwing it way more than we want. And it's not by design. If you're going to run the football with any success, it takes time."


--- WR Rashaun Woods, the team's top draft pick, caught his first two NFL passes, including the first touchdown of his professional career. Woods' touchdown came on an 18-yard pass from QB Tim Rattay with 16 seconds remaining in the game. He also had a nice 17-yard grab on a third-and-10 play late in the third quarter to keep alive San Francisco's first scoring drive.

"I'm just glad to get it out of the way," Woods said. "Now, I just want to catch passes, run after the catch and help the tem win."

--- The 49ers are at a loss to explain all their losses. FB Fred Beasley, like many of his teammates, said he thought the 49ers were capable of so much more this season.

"This frustrating thing is knowing that we're so much better than we're showing on the field," Beasley said.

When asked what's wrong with the 49ers, Beasley answered, "I couldn't tell you, man. We go into every game with a plan of what we're going to do, and it always backfires."

--- The 49ers were in serious danger of getting shut out for the second game in a row. But the offense finally broke a string of futility that lasted 113 minutes, 34 seconds, when Rattay hit WR Curtis Conway on a 9-yard scoring pass early in the fourth quarter.

"I don't think I've ever celebrated scoring like in a situation like that," 49ers coach Dennis Erickson said. "I'm just happy we started moving the football and got some positive things going in the second half."

Said Conway, "On one hand, it was nice to do something to give the team a boost. But you can't get too jacked emotionally because you're getting blown out."

--- DE Andre Carter is expected to miss three to five weeks after undergoing surgery Monday to remove a cyst from his back. Carter has missed the last three games with a bulging disc in his back. He had a cyst in his back that was pressing against a nerve.

--- CB Mike Rumph is out for the season after sustaining a broken right forearm trying to make a tackle on Rams RB Steven Jackson on Sunday. Rumph is scheduled to undergo surgery later this week to insert a rod in his arm.

--- LB Derek Smith, the team's leading tackler, sustained torn ligaments in his right ankle and might miss two to three weeks, Erickson said. Smith was scheduled to undergo an MRI examination to pinpoint the extent of the injury.

--- DE Otis Leverette is doubtful for this week's game against the Arizona Cardinals with a high left ankle sprain.

--- RB Kevan Barlow sustained a sprained AC joint in Sunday's game but is listed as probable for the game Sunday against the Cardinals.

--- WR Arnaz Battle is questionable with a left thigh contusion that forced him out of Sunday's game against the Rams.

--- DE John Engelberger, the 49ers' leading sack man among their defensive linemen, is questionable for this week's game with an abdominal strain.

--- LT Kwame Harris suited up for Sunday's game but did not play because of a left knee and ankle sprain. Harris will return to practice this week and might return to the starting lineup.

--- C Jeremy Newberry said he believes he will be able to return to action this season after undergoing surgery two weeks ago to stabilize his right kneecap. Newberry began walking again recently and had the stitches removed on Sunday. Newberry said he does not believe he'll be placed on injured reserve, as his plan is to return to the playing field in approximately one month.

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