Contra Costa Times

49ers Report Card
January 01, 2003
By Cam Inman

QUARTERBACK: Jeff Garcia played only one series, and even though he engineered a 20-play drive, he wasn't pleased that he threw away a third-down pass that led to a field goal. Tim Rattay (14-of-21, 138 yards) threw the first two TD passes of his career in the first half, but he didn't look as swift in the second half. Rattay fumbled twice (49ers recovered both) on sacks; Garcia hasn't fumbled this season. Grade: D

RUNNING BACK: Garrison Hearst's two fourth-quarter fumbles contributed to the Rams erasing a 20-3 deficit. Hearst lost a fumble for the first time in 154 touches when Dre Bly stripped him of the ball at the 20 and returned it for the go-ahead TD. Kevan Barlow ripped off runs of 35 and 33 yards in the first half, finishing with 10 carries for 87 yards. Grade: D

RECEIVER: With Terrell Owens home resting his injured groin, the 49ers brought with them only three wide receivers. Tai Streets had two touchdown catches in a game for the first time in his career, but he also had a fumble that he barely recovered. J.J. Stokes and Cedrick Wilson each managed only two receptions, and tight end Eric Johnson was shut out. Grade: D

OFFENSIVE LINE: Left tackle Derrick Deese and right guard Ron Stone may have been out to rest their ankle ailments, but their reserves -- Matt Willig and Kyle Kosier -- played well enough in the first half to support a would-be rout. Things changed after halftime, with Rattay getting sacked three times and the 49ers totaling 46 yards rushing. Grade: D

DEFENSIVE LINE: Andre Carter notched his 12th sack of the season and Dana Stubblefield his third, but more of that pressure was needed to keep a sore-legged Jamie Martin from throwing three TD passes in the final quarter. Grade: D

LINEBACKER: Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich played well in the first half, but their replacements -- Brandon Moore, Cornelius Anthony and Quincy Stewart -- did not. Grade: D

DEFENSIVE BACK: That was starting cornerback Ahmed Plummer, not some young backup, giving up two touchdown catches in the final quarter. Tony Parrish recorded his team-high seventh interception and Ronnie Heard had one, too, but where was the safety help down the stretch? Grade: D

SPECIAL TEAMS: The 49ers failed to recover a third-quarter onside kick. Return specialist Cedrick Wilson repeatedly got clobbered. Bill LaFleur had a woeful net average of 27.6 yards on five punts. At least kicker Jeff Chandler made both of his field goal attempts (19 and 44 yards). Grade: D

COACHING: Although coach Steve Mariucci made the smart move by resting some of his hobbled regulars, a second-half letdown should not have happened against a team that also featured many backups. For the third time this season, Mariucci's team squandered a fourth-quarter lead of at least 10 points. Grade: D

OVERALL: What a miserable way to enter the playoffs. Blowing a 20-3 lead to an injury-riddled, down-and-out team such as the Rams (7-9) shouldn't warrant anybody a grade higher than a D. Don't blame this loss on the backups, not with how Hearst and Plummer fared in the final quarter. Grade: D

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