The biggest disappointments
1. THE 1-5 RECORD: Let's start with the most obvious and general letdown so far in 2004. Nobody was expecting the 49ers to be gangbusters this season, but nobody - at least nobody close to the team - expected them to crawl into the bye week with only one victory, an overtime victory over lowly Arizona at that. That computes to just 2.6 victories over the course of a 16-game season. It is an even greater disappointment considering the Niners could easily be 3-3 right now, and maybe even 4-2. 2. JULIAN PETERSON, OUT FOR THE SEASON: Peterson was the one player the 49ers could least afford to lose this season. And that's just what happened in Week 5 when Peterson - the team's best player who was having another outstanding individual year - tore his Achilles' tendon in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals, ending his season and pointing him toward a lengthy rehabilitation. 3. OTHER INJURIES: Let's face it. The 49ers have been decimated by injuries. A team with a thin margin for error to begin with, the Niners have lost three of their best players - Peterson, center Jeremy Newberry and cornerback Mike Rumph - for all or most of the season. But they're not the only ones. Quarterback Tim Rattay, receiver Brandon Lloyd and linebacker Derek Smith each missed two or more games before the bye, and several other starters have missed at least one game. 4. TURNOVERS: It's the most obvious single statistic you can point to for the Niners having one of the NFL's worst records even though the team ranks in the middle of the pack in most other statistical categories. When a team commits 15 turnovers in six games - some of them at key moments near the end of close games - it's no surprise when the final result on the scoreboard doesn't come out positive. And forcing just a paltry three turnovers on defense in those six games doesn't help, either. 5. KEVAN BARLOW: The fourth-year veteran has struggled in his first year as the featured back. He has had to battle several nagging injuries which have impacted his effectiveness, but he also has hurt himself and the team by missing running lanes and displaying indecisiveness in the backfield. The running-game woes aren't all his fault, but he must accept at least part of the blame, and those woes have prevented the offense from running at full throttle. 6. TED TOLLNER: Tollner's play-calling in his first year as offensive coordinator is open for debate and criticism. That 34-0 loss at Seattle is a general example, but you can also find several specific examples that have cost the 49ers at key moments in their close games. 7. AHMED PLUMMER: The 49ers paid this guy an $11 million signing bonus as part of a fat five-year, $25 million contract this year to be a top cover corner who could anchor an edge in their secondary. But he has been only adequate so far, and sometimes less than that. He has been beaten for big plays in several key situations when the Niners needed him to step up and make the play. Those plays have made a difference in San Francisco's record. 8. KWAME HARRIS: Hurt or not, he has not handled the job with consistency or effectiveness when he has been in the game at left tackle. 9. TONY PARRISH: It's not that he's necessarily playing poorly. It's just that he set the bar pretty high the past two seasons with his heavy-hitting, ball-hawking, play-making mentality. The NFL leader in interceptions last year, Parrish has none this year. He has delivered a few good licks this season, but he appears a step slower than last year, and he has had some glaring missed tackles on plays that became touchdowns - again, plays that could have made a difference in the team's record. 10. RASHAUN WOODS: The rookie has obvious talent, but he has not been able to push past the four receivers ahead of him to get playing time. Two receptions at the bye is not what the 49ers were expecting - or hoping for - from their prized first-round draft pick.
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