SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
- Nearly five years after George Seifert left town, the San Francisco 49ers
finally got the best of him.
Terrell Owens caught two TD passes
from Jeff Garcia as the 49ers beat their former coach for the first time
in five tries, posting a 24-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday
Seifert, who led the 49ers to two
Super Bowl victories during eight seasons at the helm of his hometown team,
had never lost to San Francisco since taking over at Carolina.
When Seifert resigned after the 1996
season, the 49ers' franchise quarterback and star receiver were Steve Young
and Jerry Rice. In his third return to Candlestick Point, Seifert watched
the 49ers' new dynamic duo play an outstanding game.
Owens had eight catches for 118 yards,
while Garcia was 17-of-31 for 212 yards and also rushed for a score. Garrison
Hearst, whose improbable comeback keeps gaining steam, rushed for 73 yards
as San Francisco, which won just 10 games in the past two years, started
its season 3-1 for the seventh time in eight seasons.
Rookie Chris Weinke had an inconsistent
game for Carolina (1-3), completing 29 of 47 for 275 yards and a TD. He
also threw three drive-killing interceptions, including one by 49ers cornerback
Ahmed Plummer at the San Francisco 13 with 2:00 left.
Wesley Walls had 10 catches for 91
yards and a TD for Carolina.
Carolina went up 14-10 on Doug Evans'
39-yard interception return early in the second half. Garcia apparently
miscommunicated with Owens, who turned upfield as Garcia lobbed a soft
pass into an area that was unoccupied - except for Evans, who neatly sidestepped
Garcia on his way to the end zone.
That was one of few problems between
Owens and Garcia. San Francisco came right back with a scoring drive. Garcia
found Owens over the middle, and he high-stepped his way to a 29-yard touchdown.
Later in the third, Garcia hit Owens
with a perfectly thrown 20-yard fade for another score.
Carolina didn't mount a strong offensive
drive until late in the penalty-filled game, but Plummer's diving interception,
his second of the season, sealed the win.
For the second week, San Francisco
mounted a strong rushing game despite a thin offensive line. Center Jeremy
Newberry missed the game with an injury, while left tackle Derrick Deese
was ejected late in the first half for fighting with Carolina third-string
safety Jarrod Cooper.
Lance Schulters' interception late
in the first quarter started the 49ers' first scoring drive, which ended
in Garcia's 1-yard TD plunge.
Though Carolina's meager defensive
statistics suggested an opportunity for San Francisco, the Panthers moved
the ball much better than the 49ers in the first half. Carolina finally
scored with a 10-play, 99-yard drive that ended in Walls' 10-yard TD catch
1:07 before halftime.
Jose Cortez, who hasn't missed in
10 field goal attempts, made a 40-yarder at the halftime gun.