October 28 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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As typical for this article, Iíll start my offensive reactions with the play of the offensive line, who probably had their best game of the season. No, the line wasnít just dominating in the run game (where the team was averaging about 7 yards a carry until the fourth quarter when Barlow was forced to try and run against an eight man box, on obvious running downs), but for the first time, I really felt that Garcia had the patience to let his receivers run their patterns and get open. Yes, he had to improvise, and roll out some, but this was the first game where I believed he had confidence in the men in front of him. The result was four passing touchdowns and relatively pain free day for Garcia.
Jeff Garcia has an impressive day. His quarterback rating of 137+ points including of course his four touchdown performance was simply awesome. Garcia showed the patience with his receivers that I felt he was lacking all season, and he looked to have confidence in the line in front of him. It was one of his most accurate long ball days, and he constantly kept drives a live, avoiding the rush and finding receivers. His 61 yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens came on one such player, where he wrestled out of the grip of a pursuing defender to deliver the ball perfectly.
The running backs didnít have much involvement in this game, but Garrison Hearst who somehow was able to start despite being injured all of last week, averaged an amazing 7 yards a carry. Barlow, had a TD run and catch, but was less effective in the running game, particularly at the end of the game. Hearst re-aggravated his hamstring, and the 49ers will need him next week. Fred Beasley dropped a deep pass that would have been a huge play for the team. He came up with a key first down run though on a five yard rush.
What can be said about a receiving core that combined for three touchdowns? Between Owens and Streets the 49ers amazes 194 yards of production. This my friends is what the 49ers passing game should look like. Owens was simply awesome. He had his biggest game of the season with 8 receptions and two touchdowns, including a great 61 yard strike, with about half the yardage coming after the catch. Owens also came up with a key 4th and 8 reception that allowed the 49ers to take the knee and close out the game on the Cardinals four yard line. Tai Streets may have taken away JJ Stokes job even if the 49ers wonít admit it yet. Streets only needed 2 receptions to put up 62 yards, some third quarter production from him would have been nice though. Streets has the big play ability that has been lacking for the most part when Stokes starts. Cederick Wilson came up with a tough first down catch for the second consecutive week. James Jordan even made a play - though it was a special teamís tackle that was simply awesome. With Eric Johnson injured the 49ers didnít pass much to Justin Swift accept for one incompletion.
Overall it was a great offensive performance for the second consecutive week. The offense did shut down in the third quarter though, which was a little disappointing. They would have 7 more points to their name if they wanted to run the score up with 50 seconds to go.