Woe hits the road

The 49ers now hit the road, where they have been laughably bad in their three games away from home this season. And it looks as though second-year quarterback Cody Pickett, the third-stringer, will make his second NFL start on Sunday against the Bears at Soldier Field.

Coach Mike Nolan said Monday that he will know more about his quarterback situation later in the week, but he is likely to choose Pickett to start against the Bears over Ken Dorsey, who initially was the backup to rookie Alex Smith.

Smith is expected to miss at least another game with a right knee sprain, and Dorsey is still hobbled by a left ankle sprain.

In the 49ers' three games away from Monster Park, they have been outscored 125-34. They have failed to score an offensive touchdown in two of the three games. In fact, that is a common refrain for the 49ers. They have been competitive during their home games, but they have not scored an offensive touchdown in the last 195 minutes at home.

After a promising performance in a 15-10 victory over the Buccaneers, the 49ers bounced back with a stinker against the Giants.

They managed just 138 yards of total offense, and Pickett passed for just 102 yards. However, Pickett's performance was the most passing yards for a 49ers quarterback since Tim Rattay threw for 126 yards on Oct. 2 against the Cardinals. Rattay was benched the next week in favor of Smith, then traded to the Buccaneers.

"We hurt ourselves with penalties, and it's something we got to look at and try to fix," said Pickett, who became the team's fourth starting quarterback in the past five games.

Despite all their problems, Nolan has displayed such optimism that he threatens to undermine his own credibility. He contends that the 49ers are still on target to win the NFC West, despite their 2-6 record.

"We will take into account all the things that happened and learn from them and get better because of it," Nolan said. "We are not where we wanted to be at this point, at 2-6, but we feel there are an awful lot of things going in the right direction with a lot of young players."


The 49ers' offensive line, which was one of the keys to the team's upset victory a week earlier against the Buccaneers, had a miserable game in a 24-6 loss to the Giants at Monster Park.

Right tackle Kwame Harris' number was called on three false-start penalties, and two more penalties of the kind might have been mistakenly blamed on others. He also had a holding penalty.

"Those are things you expect out of a Pop Warner player," Harris said. "You don't expect it out of a pro player."

The San Francisco defense generally played well, but it eventually wore down when the team's offense had seven three-and-outs in 10 possessions.


--- C Jeremy Newberry might have to rest his ailing body as early as this week's game against the Bears. Newberry has played every game despite requiring pain-killing injections in his knee and both shoulders. He is going to have to rest for a week at some point, he has said, in hopes he'll be able to play the remainder of the year.

--- RB Kevan Barlow gained just 4 yards on 10 carries against the Giants after rushing for a season-high 101 yards a week earlier against the Buccaneers. Barlow led the passing game with 41 yards on six catches.

--- WR Arnaz Battle returned to action after missing most of the past five games with a right knee sprain. Battle had two catches for 17 yards against the Giants.

--- K Joe Nedney made both his of field-goal attempts against the Giants, knocking home kicks from 48 and 52 yards. Nedney has accounted for all of the 49ers' points in their past two games. His five field goals supplied the 49ers with a 15-10 victory over the Buccaneers on Oct. 30.

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