Raiders lose in Rice's return to San Francisco

Penalties, interceptions are the downfall in loss to cross-bay rivals

Jerry Rice's highly anticipated return to San Francisco wasn't exactly the ballyhooed celebration most thought it would be. Instead, little-known Raiders tight end Mondriel Fulcher used the game as his own personal coming out party while the 49ers put a blanket over the entire affair. Fulcher, a converted fullback who was Oakland's seventh-round draft pick a year ago, continued his strong preseason with a pair of touchdown receptions in the first half against the 49ers. The penalty-prone Raiders, however, could only manage three points in the second half and wound up losing, 20-17. ‘'It's hard to call plays when you're in second-and-13 or third-and-18 all the time,'' said Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon. ‘'It's hard to make completions and first downs when you're in those situations all day.'' San Francisco (1-1) got a touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia to Terrell Owens, two field goals from Jose Cortez and a fourth-quarter score by reserve running back Jonas Lewis to hand the Raiders their first loss in three preseason games. While there was plenty for head coach Jon Gruden to be upset about – he tore into his team in a post-game tirade for its sloppy play – the emergence of Fulcher was one of the few bright spots. The Raiders used a draft-day trade to obtain Roland Williams from the Rams then immediately dubbed him the starter, replacing the underachieving and departed Rickey Dudley. Oakland also invited a host of other tight ends to training camp but it has been Fulcher who has been the biggest surprise. Fulcher played in 10 games as a rookie, primarily on special teams. This season the Raiders envision him as their second tight end when they go to two tight end formations. With three touchdowns in Oakland's three games Fulcher is the Raiders' leading scorer in the preseason. ‘'I've been trying to work my way up that ladder,'' said Fulcher. ‘'I don't think I was comfortable enough with the offense last year. This year I feel 100 percent more comfortable with the whole offense, the team, Coach Gruden, everything.'' Rice's homecoming to San Francisco didn't amount to much. Certainly it didn't live up to the pre-game hype that buzzed the Bay Area during the week leading up to the affair. The last player to be introduced to the crowd at 3-Com Park, Rice was welcomed with a standing ovation from the half-empty stadium as he jogged onto the field. The former 49er played three series, catching the only pass that was thrown his way for a 23-yard gain. Rice missed an opportunity to score against his former team when he was wide open in the end zone but Gannon threw the touchdown to Fulcher. ‘'It was difficult coming back here,'' Rice later admitted. ‘'I was anxious and the night before I sat up all night just pacing around. It felt good just coming back here and just letting the fans know that I really appreciate what they have done for me my entire career. Now (the game) is over with and it's time to move on.'' SLOPPY SECONDS: Jon Gruden was in a foul mood after the game and it had nothing to do with game's final score. A plethora of penalties, miscues and mistakes by the Raiders backups were enough to bring out the wrath of Oakland's stern-faced head coach. The Raiders were hit with 11 penalties for 75 yards, all but two of which were against Oakland's second- and third-string players. The most damaging series came midway through the second quarter when the Raiders had moved to the 49ers' 37-yard line. Two false start penalties earlier in the drive had hurt, but a holding call on guard Frank Middleton all but killed the series and pushed Oakland out of field goal range. In the Raiders locker room afterward, Gruden lit into his troops for what he said was simply unacceptable play. Oakland was also tagged for 11 penalties in its preseason opener against Dallas. ‘'There were far too many penalties or me to feel good about anything as far as that was on the scoreboard,'' Gruden said. ‘'I'm not interested in spreading good vibes around every day of my life. It's not acceptable when you've been working twice a day for a month in training camp … You have to take responsibility as the head coach for that amount of penalties and we will work on that starting tomorrow.'' PORTER'S PUSH: Jerry Porter is making a serious run at becoming the Raiders' No. 3 receiver but the second-year player continues to be hindered by a rash of injuries. Slowed by a hip pointer early in training camp, Porter was having a big day against San Francisco before getting hurt in the second quarter. Porter made three nice receptions for 58 yards, including one catch in which he broke a tackle and raced downfield for an additional 13 yards. But it was on that same play that Porter injured his right shoulder and was forced out of the game. He was later diagnosed with a separated shoulder and is expected to miss at least the remainder of the preseason. ‘'My target date right now is (Sept. 9 at) Kansas City,'' said Porter, his right shoulder in a sling. ‘'It made me mad because I was on the verge of having a pretty big game. I landed and it popped out, then I rolled over and it popped back in. If this was the regular season I'd have run right back out there.'' NOTES: The Raiders were 0-for-2 on instant replay challenges. The first came on Marquez Pope's sack of 49er quarterback Jeff Garcia near San Francisco's goal line. Garcia was ruled down at the one but Oakland felt Pope had tackled Garcia for a safety. The referees sided with San Francisco, just as they did in the fourth quarter when they upheld Stephen Fisher's interception of Marques Tuiasosopo. Fisher bobbled the ball then raced up the sidelines with a 16-yard return. The Raiders contended Fisher had stepped out of bounds before gaining control of the ball … Running back Charlie Garner, another former 49er, looked very strong against his former mates. Working with the starting offense, Garner ran the ball four times for 28 yards, ripping off big chunks of yards every time he touched the ball … Gruden blamed Sebastian Janikowski's failed attempt at a 44-yard field goal in the third quarter on the hold of Shane Lechler. Gruden said Lechler bobbled the snap from center Adam Treu.

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