Niners notebook: Too many blunders

The 49ers made too many blunders in their 38-24 loss last Sunday to remain competitive against the Eagles, something a young team can't afford against an established veteran team.

"When you play a very good football team and make too many mistakes, the separation is like it was (against the Eagles)," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "It becomes insurmountable for us to come back."

The 49ers made plenty of miscues, including what Nolan described as unforced errors on the first two plays of the game. Kicker Joe Nedney booted the opening kickoff out of bounds, giving the Eagles the ball on the 40-yard line.

On the Eagles' first play from scrimmage, quarterback Donovan McNabb hit receiver Reggie Brown for 50 yards on a "flea-flicker" play. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer and safety Tony Parrish allowed Brown to get behind them for the play.

"Two players were supposed to be back," Nolan said. "That's their responsibilities. They have no responsibility to the front and they let a player run right by them. That's a foolish mistake."

The loss was difficult in other ways for the 49ers. Tight end Vernon Davis is expected to miss about four weeks with a fracture of his right fibula. Fortunately for the 49ers, the team has some depth at tight end. Veteran Eric Johnson will take over as the starter.

Running back Frank Gore committed his third fumble in three games. For the second game in a row, Gore turned the ball over at the goal line. This time, Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson picked up the fumble and ran 98 yards for a touchdown.

Rookie Michael Robinson is likely to get the call as the 49ers' short-yardage back. Robinson later scored on two 1-yard touchdown runs. Gore left the game after the fumble with bruised ribs. Although he is listed as questionable for this week's game against the Chiefs, Nolan said he does not expect Gore to miss any playing time.

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The 49ers waived wide receiver Cory Rodgers from their practice squad on Tuesday and replaced him on the eight-man squad with wide receiver Marcus Maxwell.

Maxwell (6-4, 205) was originally a seventh-round draft pick of the 49ers in 2005. He split his rookie season between the practice squad and the 53-man roster. Maxwell played in four games last season, mostly on special teams. He was waived from the 49ers during the final cut this past summer.

Rodgers, a fourth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers this year, showed the 49ers very little during the past three weeks after they opted to grab the highly-regarded prospect off the waiver wire instead of asking Maxwell back to the practice squad in early September. When Rodgers didn't pan out, the 49ers went back to Maxwell, whom the team still feels has potential to be a contributing receiver at the NFL level.

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Tight end Eric Johnson took advantage of the most playing time he's received since the 2004 season on Sunday against the Eagles, with seven catches for 87 yards, including a leaping 15-yard touchdown catch with :06 remaining.

Johnson is expected to take over as the team's top tight end with rookie Vernon Davis expected to miss a month with a fracture of his right fibula.

The 49ers had planned to use Davis and Johnson a lot this season Johnson saw action on just 27 snaps in the first two games of the season.

"From a personal standpoint, you want to be in there contributing as much as you can," Johnson said. "When you don't get that chance, obviously it can be frustrating. I thought I came in with a good attitude and played the role the coaches gave me."

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Free safety Mike Adams was the only defender that stood between Eagles running back Brian Westbrook and a 71-yard touchdown run. Westbrook used a devastating stiff arm to allow him to scamper the final 35 yards en route to a 71-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

"It was mean," Adams said of the stiff arm. Adams played at Delaware, while Westbrook went to rival Villanova. "That's not polite. I need to talk to him about that."

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Fullback Moran Norris made his 49ers regular-season debut, getting the nod over Chris Hetherington, who started the first two games. Hetherington was inactive for the game because the Morris' blocking style worked better with the team's game plan. Nolan said Norris did a very good job of blocking on Eagles middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. The team's starting fullback will be decided on a week-to-week basis. Norris is more of a blocker, while Hetherington is a better all-around fullback.

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PLAYER NOTES
--- LT Jonas Jennings returned to action and appeared to play well for the 49ers on Sunday against the Eagles. Jennings missed one week with a high right ankle sprain.
--- RB Frank Gore left the game Sunday with what the club reported as an abdominal strain. On Monday, Gore was reported to have bruised ribs. Although he was expected to begin the week listed as questionable, Nolan said he expects Gore to be ready to play against the Chiefs.
--- LG Larry Allen is expected to miss another week or two with a left knee injury sustained in the season opener Sept. 10. Allen was injured on the sixth play of the game.
--- TE Vernon Davis sustained a hairline fracture of his right leg and is expected to miss four weeks, he said.
--- TE Delanie Walker is expected to return to full practices this week for the first time since he sustained a right shoulder separation on Sept. 1, in the 49ers' final exhibition game.


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