Tuesday notebook

The 49ers' pass defense may have surrendered 303 yards to Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme in last week's 37-27 loss to the Pathers, but the youngsters in the team's makeshift secondary were not the only ones to blame.

"That's asking a lot for young corners who haven't played a lot to cover Muhsin Muhammad and Ricky Proehl - those are two Super Bowl receivers," 49ers safety Ronnie Heard said.

First-year cornerback Joselio Hanson got his first NFL start, in place of injured Jimmy Williams, who had been starting in place of injured Ahmed Plummer. Dwaine Carpenter, who had played safety before this week, started at right cornerback for hobbled Shawntae Spencer, who had taken over for Mike Rumph, who is out for the season with a broken right arm.

Also, undrafted rookie Rayshun Reed played extensively as the team's No. 3 cornerback in just his second NFL game. Spencer, who is nursing an ankle sprain, saw some action in the second half but did not return to the lineup after yielding a 40-yard scoring pass to Muhammad.

"They played a lot of three-wides and tried to take advantage of the matchups," Reed said. "They probably tried to go at me more because they hadn't seen me on film. I expected that."

Reed did not give up any big plays in coverage, but Carpenter had his troubles. Carpenter was moved to cornerback last week from his spot as backup safety. He gave up some big plays in coverage, including Muhammad's 26-yard, game-clinching touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Muhammad caught six passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns.

--- At least two Bay Area columnists opined that quarterback Tim Rattay - who had five turnovers against the Panthers, including four intererceptions - is the modern-day Steve DeBerg, whom Bill Walsh once famously said was "just good enough to get you beat."

DeBerg was the 49ers' quarterback in 1979, when the 49ers went 2-14. They began that season with just one win in their first 14 games. The 49ers are currently 1-8, their worst start since DeBerg was the quarterback.

--- Two of the 49ers' newcomers teamed up to make what at the time looked like a big play against the Panthers. Reed forced a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half and defensive back Mike Adams, promoted from the practice squad prior to the game, recovered at the Panthers' 27-yard line. But the 49ers did not cash it in for any points.

--- The 49ers' pass defense has been virtually non-existent this season. Panthers QB Jake Delhomme achieved a passer rating of 115.2, and the opposition has recorded a rating of 104.0 against the 49ers through the first nine games.

--- Coach Dennis Erickson finally put his red flag to good use. He came into the game 0-for-5 in replay challenges this season, but the 49ers got a reversal after officials initially ruled a Panthers touchdown on an apparent fumble by RB Kevan Barlow. Carolina linebacker Mark Fields scooped up the ball and ran 8 yards to the end zone, but Barlow was ruled down by contact after referee Mike Carey viewed the video.

It didn't really matter, though, because on the next play, Rattay's pass was intercepted by Fields, who returned it to the 1-yard line. Brandon Bennett scored on a 1-yard run to cut the Panthers' deficit to 17-13.

Said Erickson: "It was totally deflating."

--- TE Eric Johnson is closing in on the 49ers' all-time single-season receptions lead for a tight end. He needs just 12 more catches to surpass Brent Jones' total of 69, which he set 11 years ago. Johnson has 57 catches this season, ranking him No. 1 in the NFC and just two behind NFL leader Derrick Mason of Tennessee.

--- WR Cedrick Wilson set a career high with 101 yards receiving in the 49ers' 37-27 loss to the Panthers. Wilson caught five passes to move into second place in receptions on the 49ers this season. Wilson is in the final year of his contract.

--- CB Ahmed Plummer, who has missed two games because of a bulging disk in his neck, will sit out two or three more games, Erickson said. Some around the organization say they would not be surprised if Plummer does not play again this season.

--- LT Kyle Kosier is nursing injuries to his left shoulder and left ankle. The team will monitor his progress throughout the week. If he is unable to play, Kwame Harris will get the starting assignment Sunday vs. the Buccaneers.

--- CB Jimmy Williams, who was inactive with a broken right little toe, might be able to return to the starting lineup this week. Erickson said it is more of a pain-tolerance issue with Williams.

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