Another stinker for 1-and-9ers

After two consecutive flirtations with something resembling respectable performance, the 49ers were back to their helpless and hopeless ways again Sunday in Tampa Bay, adding another stinker to their growing collection of awful efforts this season.

Don't ask if it can get any worse than the 35-3 shelling they absorbed from the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. As the Niners already have displayed several times this year, nothing is out of reach for this team as it stumbles to new lowpoints.

This certainly was one of them.

The Niners were manhandled in just about every area imaginable. The worst of the worst came on offense during the first half, when San Francisco failed to record a first down on its first six possessions, gaining just three net yards on its first 17 plays.

"It was just pathetic," said 49ers coach Dennis Erickson, and it's difficult to argue with his reasoning.

The 49ers had just 26 yards of offense at halftime, and 14 came on a run up the middle by Maurice Hicks against a prevent defense on the final play of the first half. In a season featuring several first halves packed with terrible results, this one had to be the worst, at least offensively.

Starting halfback Kevan Barlow was stuffed for just four yards on eight carries in the first two quarters. San Francisco's receiving corps - including tight end Eric Johnson, the NFC's leading receiver - were shut out. Quarterback Tim Rattay completed just three of 11 passes for 12 yards, and he lost a fumble to begin San Francisco's second possession that Tampa Bay quickly turned into the first of its five touchdowns on the next play.

The last of those five touchdowns was provided by the San Francisco offense midway through the final quarter, when third-string cornerback Torrie Cox stepped in front of a Rattay pass and returned it 55-yards for the coup de grace on another forgettable afternoon for the 49ers.

"We regressed," Erickson said. "Offensively, it was bad. There's no ifs or ands about it. That's the worst offensive performance I've been around in a long time."

The Niners appeared incapable of doing anything about it as Tampa Bay's tough front four and blitzing linebackers pressured Rattay relentlessly and seldom gave him time to set up and throw. Barlow again went nowhere, and San Francisco receivers had a difficult time shaking Tampa Bay cornerbacks Brian Kelly and Ronde Barber.

The Niners ultimately finished with just 197 total yards - their third effort under 200 yards in their first 10 games - and 83 of those came on an 11-play drive in the final 3:19 when the Buccaneers were simply looking to get off the field and celebrate.

Fittingly, after reaching the Tampa Bay 1-yard line in the final seconds, the Niners twice burned timeouts to try and crack the goal line before time expired. But they couldn't do it as Hicks was stopped for no gain on two inside running plays.

That was an exclamation point on another futile San Francisco offensive effort, which was saved from a second shutout this season only by a 47-yard field goal late in the third quarter by Todd Peterson, who also missed a 50-yarder.

The 49ers penetrated Tampa Bay territory on just four of their 13 possessions, with only the game-ending drive making it past the Bucs' 29-yard line.

"I never thought we'd be in the situation that we're in right now," said Niners receiver Cedrick Wilson, who had one reception for eight yards - just one of three catches by San Francisco wideouts. "We're not moving the football. Every man has to be accountable for what's going on."

Every player on the San Francisco offense should be held accountable, because it definitely was a collective effort with practically every individual taking part at different times in the breakdown.

"We couldn't execute any aspect of it," Erickson said. "It wasn't just one thing. We couldn't run. We didn't make plays. (Rattay) isn't getting protected. It's a combination of everything, and it just snowballs."

San Francisco's 21-0 deficit at halftime would have been even worse if not for two interceptions by safety Tony Parrish, one of them coming in the San Francisco end zone.

But those picks were the highlight of the day for a defense that once again couldn't get even adequate pressure on the passer and had its usual problems defending the pass. Take away the two interceptions, and Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese had a huge day, completing 15 of 21 passes for 210 yards, including two touchdown throws to Joe Jurevicius, who worked his way wide open in the San Francisco secondary both times.

The Bucs did it on the ground, too. Michael Pittman rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns as the San Francisco defense surrendered 352 yards to the NFL's 24th-ranked offense - and 28th-ranked rushing attack.

"It's simple," Parrish said. "We're not getting it done. Individually, across the board, we're not executing, regardless of who it is."

A simple explanation. And once again, a predictable blowout loss for the reeling 1-9 49ers.


Niners Digest Top Stories