Contra Costa Times

Toomer's big day doesn't make up for defeat
January 06, 2003
The De La Salle grad scores three TDs in front of a Spartans contingent

49ers notebook

SAN FRANCISCO -- Even before he went out and caught three touchdown passes Sunday, New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer was drawing kudos. When Toomer, a De La Salle High School graduate, came out for pregame warmups, he received a large ovation from the stands by the Spartans football team, which was honored at halftime for their 138-game win streak.

"I was thinking if we won the game, it would be a great day," Toomer said after the Giants' 39-38, first-round playoff loss to the host 49ers. "Since we lost, it was a wash." Of Toomer's eight receptions for 136 yards, three went for first-half touchdowns. All of Toomer's catches came against 49ers cornerback Ahmed Plummer. "I felt I had an advantage over him the whole game," Toomer said.

"He made some really great plays," Plummer said. "I was partly responsible for that. But to his credit, he's a fast receiver and he's got good awareness for where the ball is."

How close was it?

The Giants may have owned nearly a nine-minute advantage as far as time of possession, but they finished with exactly as many yards as the 49ers, 446. Each team converted 6 of 13 third-down plays. Giants quarterback Kerry Collins (29-of-43, 342 yards, four touchdowns one interception) attempted one more pass than 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia (27-of-44, 331 yards, three touchdowns, one interception).

Owens' pass

It wasn't pretty, but 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens completed the first pass of his career in the second quarter. Owens took a handoff from Garcia, rolled right and hit an open Tai Streets for a 25-yard completion at the Giants 7.

"Jeff has a tough job," Owens said. "I had a hard time trying to find Tai." Owens' 1-for-1 passing line gave him an efficiency rating of 118.8.

Shockey's shower

Giants rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey apologized after the game for throwing a cup of ice water into the stands while he sat on the Giants bench in the first quarter. "Unfortunately it hit two kids. I apologized to them. I didn't mean to hit kids," Shockey said. The Giants gave the fans a football, according to a Giants spokesman.

Replay victory

The 49ers led the league this season by winning six of nine replay challenges, and they continued that success Sunday. Replay officials, at the request of 49ers coach Steve Mariucci, overturned an on-field call and ruled that 49ers running back Kevan Barlow indeed crossed the goal line on a 1-yard run 6:05 before halftime. "I knew I was in," Barlow said. "There was no choice but to challenge. It's the playoffs."

Plummer's near miss

The 49ers looked to have the win sealed when Plummer appeared to intercept a Collins pass intended for Toomer at the 49ers' 15 with 22 seconds remaining. The ball popped out when Plummer hit the ground and officials didn't appear to review the possible interception. However, referee Ron Winter said officials in the replay booth -- the only ones who can decide to challenge a play in the final two minutes -- did look at the play and agreed with the initial call. "The ruling on the field was that the player did not have control of the ball as he hit the ground," Winter told a pool reporter.

Chandler's pain

Sunday's game hadn't even started before a 49er pulled up lame, with kicker Jeff Chandler spraining his left ankle in pregame warmups. Chandler then iced his ankle and did well in the game, making his two extra-point attempts and his only field-goal try (from 25 yards) while faring well on kickoffs. Right guard Ron Stone and left tackle Derrick Deese came out in the second half after aggravating their tender left ankles. Stone returned in the fourth quarter and is listed by Mariucci as probable for Sunday's game at Tampa Bay, but Deese remained out and "is more of a concern" for Mariucci. Mariucci said linebacker Derek Smith (ankle) is also probable. Free safety Zack Bronson, who played in his first game since breaking his left foot Oct. 14, came out late when his foot became sore but should be OK for Sunday, Mariucci said.

There's always radio

In Alamo and Danville, the game ticked by but television sets stayed dark, as unknown numbers of homes lost their AT&T Broadband cable service. The outage started mid-morning, and a service representative couldn't say when service would be turned back on or how the outage started. The number of customers without cable was not available.

In Danville, some fans gave up. "We haven't had cable since 10 o'clock this morning, and my dad's really bummed," said 12-year-old Annie Lingel. The cable company couldn't tell them when the service would come back on, so Craig Lingel went out.

Bill McNutt of Danville saw one touchdown before his cable turned to static. "It was 7-nothing, so as far as I'm concerned, we won," he said. McNutt, 63, says he plans to watch every minute of a 49ers vs. Raiders Super Bowl at home on his television. He's considering switching to satellite.

Sunday afternoon, he decided to get ready early for a party later that night. But he had one eye on the television, hoping the cable would blink back on.

"We're watching snow, just in case it does."

Extra points

Cornerback Jason Webster (left ankle) was inactive and replaced in the starting lineup by Mike Rumph. ... Among those on the 49ers sideline were defensive coordinator Jim Mora's father, Jim Mora, the former New Orleans and Indianapolis head coach. Two former 49ers, linebacker Ken Norton Jr. and tight end Greg Clark, also made their first appearances at a 49ers game since being released after the 2000 and 2001 seasons, respectively.

- Cam Inman

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