Notebook: Back to obscurity for Niners

The 49ers return to obscurity on Sunday. They will not attract the national television audience that tuned in to watch them play the division-leading Arizona Cardinals. Instead, it will be a game featuring two 2-7 teams attempting to stay out of the NFC West cellar.

The St. Louis Rams will come to Candlestick Park in a game matching clubs in similar situations. Both the 49ers and Rams have made in-season coaching changes. Jim Haslett now coaches the Rams, taking over for fired Scott Linehan.

And the 49ers are now led by fiery Mike Singletary, who assumed the coaching role when Mike Nolan was fired on Oct. 20.

Singletary has a particularly daunting task this week, as he tries to make sure there is no letdown or lasting effect from the 49ers' agonizing 29-24 loss to the Cardinals on Monday Night Football.

"There will be no carryover," Singletary said. "Carryover to what? We'll be fine. We got a great group of guys in there who want to win. But we just got to learn how to win. That's it."

The 49ers suffered a heart-breaking loss. The coaching staff mismanaged the final minute of the game. On the final play from outside the 2-yard line, fullback Michael Robinson was stuffed at the 1-yard line to thwart the 49ers' final hope of a victory.

"I think we have some good character guys on this team," Robinson said. "We just have to get back to work. We need to have some pride about ourselves, take this loss and learn from it and get ready to play (the Rams)."

The 49ers are still smarting from their meltdown against the Cardinals. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz and Singletary shared the blame for the chaotic nature of the final minute of the game.

Martz said he was responsible for the 49ers losing approximately 25 crucial seconds after Jason Hill caught a pass and was stopped at the 1-yard line with 45 seconds remaining.

Martz admitted to getting overly excited. He ordered quarterback Shaun Hill to spike the ball to stop the clock. But he also got ahead of himself and called for the 49ers' short-yardage personnel.

The 49ers had as many as 13 players on the field at the same time, so Hill was unable to spike the ball because it would have resulted in a penalty. He had to wait until there were only 11 players on the field and in a proper offensive formation to kill the clock.

"There was some chaos that I created on the sideline," Martz said. "I did a bad job there. We were trying to spike it and I called for a personnel change. I just went too fast with everything and it created too much confusion."

Things got further confused in the final seconds when a replay review was called after Frank Gore was stopped short of the goal line.

The ball was originally spotted at the 1-yard line. The 49ers were told that the play would start when the ball was ready for play. But the sideline could not hear referee Tony Corrente's announcement that the ball was moved back to the 2½-yard line.

Martz had already called for Michael Robinson to get the ball on a fullback dive. But from the 2½-yard line that is not the call Martz wanted to make.

"It's just frustrating as you look back on it because Mike Martz made the call," Singletary said. "He would have changed that call had he known that the ball was going to be moved."

Hill handed off to Robinson, who was stopped for a 1-yard gain, leaving the 49ers with an excruciating defeat that gave Arizona a four-game lead in the NFC West with seven games to play.

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The national television audience saw an exchange on the sideline between Singletary and Martz. It was assumed that the heated discussion was whether the 49ers would go for a first down or kick the field goal. Singletary opted to kick the field goal.

But the 49ers say that exchange was misinterpreted. Both men grew emotional about the spot from the previous play. Singletary said he and Martz share a good working relationship.

"I'm very, very thankful to be working with Mike Martz and I have a great relationship with him. And I don't want to make it seem like we're best of friends. It's a professional relationship. But even so, I've had the opportunity to sit down with him many nights and just talk. Just talk about our guys; talk about where we are; talk about the possibilities - kind of dream together."

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Robinson got a lot of attention in the aftermath of the 49ers' last-minute meltdown against the Cardinals.

"Yeah, I wish people would've been talking about my game-winning touchdown," Robinson said, "instead of asking, 'Why did they give the ball to Michael Robinson?'"

Robinson has seven rushing attempts all season. And when the 49ers were faced with a win-or-lose play on Monday, offensive coordinator Mike Martz decided to give the ball to Robinson.

Before his final carry, Robinson had converted on two third-and-1 situations earlier in the game.

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There were rumblings last week that first-year receiver Dominique Zeigler was in line for a promotion after spending one-and-a-half seasons on the 49ers' practice squad. But he said he did not want to call anyone in his family until he was on a plane to Arizona.

So how did he tell his mother about the move to the 53-man roster?

"I said, 'Mom, what was the theme song of The Jeffersons?" Zeigler said. "She said, 'Moving on up.' And I said, 'That's what I'm doing.'"

Zeigler made his first career reception in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals, a 22-yard catch-and-run with three minutes to play that pushed San Francisco inside the Arizona 20-yard line.

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Quarterback Shaun Hill's worst play of the game was when he tried to throw a shovel pass to running back Frank Gore in the fourth quarter. Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson intercepted the ball at the Arizona 12-yard line with 2:24 remaining.

But offensive coordinator Mike Martz said the blame for that play falls on Gore for turning upfield when Hill was trying to get him the ball.

"We have a rule when the quarterback's on a scramble that you take angles and take off and go," Martz said. "He got fooled a little bit by the receiver. The receiver was going one way and when he threw it, (Gore) took off going the other way. So I wouldn't blame him for that at all."

Hill threw two interceptions in the game. Martz said Hill's first interception was "just a very poor decision." The Cardinals had two other interceptions returned for touchdowns that were nullified by penalties.

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