49ers replay: Reeling heading into Raiders

After playing a brand of football that was nothing short of encouraging in the first three games of the season, the 49ers are reeling heading into their game this week against their neighborhood rival Oakland Raiders.

"I feel like whatever we did against the Chiefs, we can't do if we want to beat Oakland," 49ers receiver Antonio Bryant said. "Of course, I'm shocked. Who wouldn't be shocked when you can't get a first down, can't get in the end zone?"

The 49ers played one of their worst games in club history, a 41-0 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The 49ers had major breakdowns throughout their roster while suffering their worst-ever shutout defeat.

"Last year's team, at times, I would have expected this," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "We got beat pretty bad a few times early on. But with this year's team, I don't expect that from them. I would say that's the most difficult loss in the year-and-a-half that I've been here.

"We did a poor job of ball security, we didn't make plays, we had guys coming free on blitzes and we the quarterback (on blitzes). And early on, on third downs, we didn't cover our man and it's just some basic things. Penalties hurt us. We did a lot of things that good football teams do not do.

When asked if the 49ers have taken a step backward, Nolan answered, "It feels that way. But we'll see what we do against the Raiders. We can use it to help us get better. Our performance was a step back, but where it takes us, I don't know. Hopefully we get it rectified this week."

Quarterback Alex Smith saw one streak come to an end, and running back Frank Gore saw the continuation of a disturbing trend.

Smith threw two interceptions against the Chiefs, seeing his streak of 139 consecutive passing attempts without an interception snapped. Gore, meanwhile, fumbled on the 49ers' first offensive possession. Gore has now fumbled in each of the 49ers' first four games of the season, losing each of them.

"I was thinking too much," Gore said. "I was nervous. I was trying to not make mistakes and it happened. I wasn't myself at the beginning of the game. I just had to forget it and play football."

If the 49ers expect to turn things around against the Raiders, they're going to need more polished performances from everyone. The team relies on Gore, who is the central figure in the team's power-running attack.

The 49ers had every reason to believe this season would provide a dramatic improvement from the past two seasons. The club won just two games in 2004, leading to the firings of general manager Terry Donahue and head coach Dennis Erickson.

Last season, the 49ers ranked last in the league in total offense and total defense. But the 49ers revamped their offense, and the club was ranked fourth in the NFL in that department entering Week 4 behind Gore's running and Smith's effective play.

It was only the second time the 49ers failed to score points in their past 454 games. The 49ers were last blanked Sept. 26, 2004 against Seattle, losing 34-0 to end their NFL-record scoring streak of 420 games.

"We can be 7-3 down the line and I'm still going to wear the marks from this game," Bryant said. "Every battle I go into, I'm still going to wear the bruises from this game."

PLAYER NOTES
--- RB Frank Gore gained 65 yards on 14 carries, but he also fumbled for the fourth consecutive game. Gore's first-quarter turnover led to a Chiefs field goal.
--- QB Alex Smith had struggles that were reminiscent of his rookie season. Smith completed 13 of 25 passes for 92 yards and two interceptions. His passer rating was 27.4.
--- TE Eric Johnson, who started in place of injured starter Vernon Davis, caught just three passes for 14 yards and dropped three others after a seven-catch effort the previous week.
--- CB Shawntae Spencer struggled in coverage against the Chiefs. He surrendered a 34-yard touchdown to Eddie Kennison, and was also called for pass interference in the end zone that set up a short touchdown run.
--- RT Kwame Harris struggled in pass protection against Chiefs rookie Tamba Hali, who was credited with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Coach Mike Nolan said he would evaluate the team's offensive line situation this week before deciding whether to make any lineup changes.
--- P Andy Lee averaged 45.1 yards on seven punts. He pinned two inside the 20, but also surrendered Dante Hall's 60-yard punt return for a touchdown. Lee's net average was 30.6.
--- RB Maurice Hicks saw limited action from scrimmage, catching one pass for just two yards. He returned six kickoffs for a 28.5-yard average. But Hicks lost a fumble at the end of his best return, a 53-yarder.


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