Contra Costa Times

Garcia frustrated by worst outing of season
January 13, 2003
The 49ers quarterback throws three interceptions and fumbles three times

By Ann Tatko

TAMPA, Fla. - Forty-niners quarterback Jeff Garcia heard the same question for the third time, and had had enough.

He stalked away from the group of reporters around his locker and forcefully threw a water bottle in the nearby trash can Sunday.

Garcia didn't want to reflect anymore on the 49ers' 31-6 NFC divisional playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. He especially didn't want to talk further about his worst game of the season, which also turned out to be his last.

Garcia went 22-of-41 passing for 193 yards. Those were the good numbers, a very dim bright spot considering everything else: three interceptions, no touchdowns; three fumbles, one lost; four sacks, 27 yards lost; and a 35.9 rating, the fourth-lowest of his career and his worst of the season.

A day earlier Garcia missed the 49ers' walk-through because of a cold, but he didn't point to that as an excuse. The explanation for his poor performance was far more simple.

"They are a good defensive football team," Garcia said of the NFL's top-ranked overall defense. "Yeah, I would have liked to play better. I don't think that I played up to the level that I think I'm capable of playing. But that's more a tribute to them than what we didn't do."

The Bucs held the 49ers to two first-half field goals. Then, the defense really became a nightmare for Garcia.

Already down 21-6, he threw an interception to linebacker Derrick Brooks deep in San Francisco territory late in the second quarter. Four plays later, the Bucs scored another touchdown.

He still had hope, having rallied the 49ers with a hurry-up offense last week. He brought them back from a 24-point deficit to beat the New York Giants 39-38.

He trotted out the no-huddle again Sunday to start the second half.

The Bucs responded by picking off a pass intended for Terrell Owens on the first play. They added a field goal off that turnover.

"I was accountable for four turnovers, and that's just not me. That's not my style," Garcia said. "They helped create those, though. It's just one of those things where we have to be better with the football. It got to a point where it was just difficult."

It got even more difficult as the game progressed and the 49ers watched as precious minutes for their comeback disappeared.

Garcia fumbled twice in the third quarter, including the one lost while in scoring position. He threw his third interception late in the fourth quarter.

Yet, even then, Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp didn't see any fear in Garcia.

"A veteran quarterback like that, you really can't look in their eyes and see something if they are scared," Warren Sapp said. "This guy has seen a number of defenses, but we are something special."

Tell us what you think on the new 49ers Clubhouse message board.