Stomped again

The 49ers had no problem scoring against the Seattle Seahawks this time. But 27 points wasn't nearly enough Sunday afternoon. Not even close. And so, San Francisco flopped to midseason with another embarrassing low-point – and a season-high in points allowed by a usually reliable defense.

"Some games you need score 14 to win, and some games you have to score 43," Niners quarterback Tim Rattay said.

Sunday was one of those games. The Seahawks, moving the ball at will against a San Francisco defense ranked 10th in the NFL entering the game, shredded the Niners with the rushing of Shaun Alexander and the passing of Matt Hasselbeck while rolling to a 42-27 victory before a sellout crowd at Monster Park.

The Seahawks' offense rolled up 34 points on the Niners when the teams met in Seattle on Sept. 26. This time, that offense did itself one point better with five convincing touchdown drives. And – not that Seattle needed any help – the Seahawks got another scoring opportunity provided by the San Francisco offense that they quickly turned into a game-clinching touchdown.

That was the weekly killer mistake that the Niners seem to always make in close games. Still within striking distance at 35-27 midway through the fourth quarter, Rattay threw a pass into the waiting arms of Seattle linebacker Anthony Simmons, who returned it 23 yards for a touchdown that settled the issue.

Until then, it looked as though a San Francisco win still was possible, because the Niners had success against a Seattle defense that had handed them a humiliating shutout loss back in September, a 34-0 defeat that ended San Francisco's NFL record of scoring in 420 consecutive games.

In fact, the Niners struck first with Kevan Barlow's three-yard touchdown run just three minutes into the game. With Rattay directing the offense smoothly, San Francisco still had the lead at 14-7 entering the second quarter after Curtis Conway turned a short pass from Rattay into a 28-yard scoring reception.

But, as has been the case with the 49ers all season, when something goes right, something else usually goes wrong.

"It just seems like one week our offense plays good, and the next week it's defense," said Barlow, who rushed for 61 yards. "When we get it together as a team…"

This wasn't that week for the defense. On a seven-possession sequence that started late in the first quarter and ended late in the third, Seattle assembled five touchdown drives to take command of the game. That included long drives of 73, 86 and 94 yards.

Alexander rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, and Hasselbeck completed 17 of 28 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns, compiling a quarterback rating of 130.8 in the process.

"Defensively, we just felt we didn't hold up our end of the bargain today," said Niners linebacker Jeff Ulbrich, who had seven tackles. "When it came down to it, we just made too many mistakes. This is really a disappointing one. We just didn't do what it takes. It was a little bit of everything from everyone. It's sickening to me. It really is."

Rattay's passing – he completed 23 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns – kept the Niners in the game, and San Francisco went ahead 24-21 early in the third period on Rattay's 39-yard scoring bomb to Brandon Lloyd.

But the lead was short-lived. In fact, it only lasted 85 seconds as Hasselbeck completed consecutive passes of 33 yards to Jerheme Urban, 15 yards to Jerramy Stevens and 25 yards to Koren Robinson for the touchdown that put the Seahawks back in front to stay.

"Every time we got some momentum going, they came back and took it away," 49ers coach Dennis Erickson said.

The 49ers also got no help whatsoever from the officials, who hosed San Francisco on at least three consequential plays, including an obvious fumble recovery by Ulbrich that instead was ruled an incomplete pass by officials.

"It was a fumble," Ulbrich said. "But the refs make mistakes as well. It's something that we should have, could have overcome. But we didn't."

Sound familiar? That's the story of San Francisco's season. This miserable journey to nowhere now is half over, and the Niners have a 1-7 record to show for it – along with yet another lousy way to lose.

"We're 1-7, but I think we're playing with a lot of heart and passion," Rattay said. "We just have to clean up our mistakes. It's tough. We put a lot of work into it and guys are playing hard. Nobody here is used to losing. Losing sucks."


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