If it's not Smith's shoulder, then what?

Coach Mike Nolan said 49ers quarterback Alex Smith's struggles have nothing to do with his shoulder injury. Nolan made those comments the day after the 49ers' 24-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, a game in which Smith struggled for the third consecutive game since his return to the lineup.

Afterward, Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson said he believes his former 49ers teammate is still bothered by the shoulder injury he sustained Sept. 30 in the first meeting between the teams.

"I think he's still hurt," Peterson said. "A lot of the time he tries to throw the ball overhand and like he's kind of grimacing all the time to me. To me, it's like he shouldn't be out there. But desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess.

"It's kind of hard for them to pass the ball if he's not completely healthy. He can't really get the ball down when he wants to. You see the receiver jumping way high or the ball is too low. It's unfortunate for them."

Nolan said he did not want to blame Smith's problems on the injury. When asked if he could explain Smith's ineffective play since returning from the injury, Nolan said. "I can't. I wish I could. I don't want to go to the sore-shoulder thing because I don't believe it's it."

Smith completed just 12 of 28 passes for 114 yards, missing wildly on many of his incomplete throws. Smith has maintained that his shoulder feels good, but he added that he is still not 100 percent.

"I feel good," Smith said. "The shoulder is getting better. (But) I still don't feel like I felt before it (the injury)."

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Mike Nolan tried to downplay his emotional state after the 49ers' loss to the Seahawks. Nolan coached the game with a heavy heart, as his father passed away one day earlier.

Dick Nolan, who coached the 49ers from 1968 to '75, died Sunday after long battles with Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer. He was 75. Mike Nolan told his team the news shortly after arriving in Seattle.

"I thought about him before the game and I might have thought about him once or twice during the game," Nolan said. "But to be honest with you, I might have done that during a normal game."

The 49ers wanted to rally and play well for their head coach. However, it turned into the team's worst performance of the season.

"It showed a lot of heart for him to still coach," 49ers running back Frank Gore said. "It's tough. I know. I've been through it with my mom. I'm happy he did it. I just wish it could've come out better."

Gore's mother, Lizzie, died in September.

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Tight end Vernon Davis had reason to be frustrated after being the target of just two passes the entire game. The first pass he saw was in the fourth quarter. It was incomplete. He later caught one ball for 4 yards.

Davis had been San Francisco's leading receiver each of the past two games, setting new career highs each week with six and seven receptions, respectively, against the Saints and Falcons.
"We didn't attack the way we should've," Davis said. "I was on the back side protecting a lot. They didn't put me down the field, for some reason."

Davis said he approached Nolan on the sideline to inform him that he had been blocking for most of the game. He said he just wanted to let him know that he felt like he could help if he were more involved in the offense.

Nolan said he agreed with Davis' assessment.

"I'm disappointed we didn't' utilize him more," Nolan said.

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--- NT Aubrayo Franklin had a forced fumble and two tackles against the Seahawks. But his status for this week's game against the Rams is in question after he left the field with a right calf strain in the third quarter.
--- TE Vernon Davis caught just one pass for 4 yards. Oddly, he was used primarily as a blocker. He was the target on just two passes the entire game, the first one coming in the fourth quarter. Davis had 13 catches for 148 yards in the previous two games.
--- RB Frank Gore returned to action after missing one game with a right ankle sprain. Gore was effective when he was used. He had 72 yards rushing on just 13 carries.
--- LB Jeff Ulbrich, who was replaced in the starting lineup midway through last season, saw a lot of action in the loss to the Seahawks and finished with a game-high 10 tackles.
--WR Arnaz Battle had four receptions for 78 yards, including a 45-yard pass at the end of the first half. The play gave the 49ers their only first down of the first half.

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