November 17 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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If you’ve been waiting for the 49ers to beat themselves, wait no longer. In recent weeks the 49ers have let their play calling, clock management; penalties and inability to put points on the board haunt them. Until this week, against the Chargers the 49ers managed to escape with narrow victories. But possession without points is suicide, and the 49ers hopefully learned that lesson against the Chargers.
Off to a slow start, the 49ers punted on four consecutive drives, and if not for a quick score at the end of the second half, the 49ers would have gone four quarters (including last week) without putting points on the board. Luckily the defense was able to keep the Chargers in check allowing just 7 points.
The 49ers started the second half dramatically different. Garcia lit it up with several long passes and two touchdowns in the corner. The 49ers sustained their lead into the fourth quarter, blocking a field goal, recording an interception and one punt, but coming away with no points off the interception and just three on the field goal, along with no points on a great return by Jimmy Williams allowed the Chargers to get back into it, especially with the help of 49ers penalties, including a pass interference call on Mike Rumph that lead to the Chargers tying touchdown. The touchdown came after a 49ers punt on a three and out, their second of the game, as the team tried to pass the ball when they should have kept the run going.
Poor clock management gave the 49ers just 30 seconds to drive for a field goal, but penalties took even more time off the clock and the game went into over time as Garcia threw an interception on a hail marry to end regulation. The 49ers almost missed the opportunity for the hail marry, but Tai Streets called a time out with one second left on the clock after being the only player to realize Garrison Hearst was not ruled out of bounds.
In overtime the defense made the necessary stand to get the 49ers offense the ball back. The offense did its job marching the ball to the Chargers 23. Again the coaching staff made some poor choices in the play calling going with the pass when they should have been trying to inch the ball forward with the run. The 49ers escaped a big sack on Garcia with a pass to Terrell Owens, but the extra time must have iced Jose Cortez who missed the game winning field goal - possibly losing his job in the process.
The 49ers offense wouldn’t get another chance. The Chargers marched down to the 49ers 22, and Steve Christie came out to make the 40 yard field goal, and show Jose Cortez what the position was all about. Jeff Garcia took a pounding all day, and ultimately it was that sign of poor offensive line play that stifled the offense when it got drives rolling. The 49ers dropped what could have been a NFC lead tying 8th victory, but instead the 49ers dropped to 7-3, remaining game behind the Packers, and having to away the results from Monday night’s game to determine their lead in the NFC West.