Vernon Davis wondered why he was not on the field for the final crucial play today in the 49ers’ 14-9 loss to the Dolphins.
Davis, whom coach Mike Singletary last week called the best-blocking tight end he’s ever seen, did not want to catch a pass, necessarily. He wanted to be responsible for blocking Dolphins mouthy and sack-craving linebacker Joey Porter.
“It was frustrating,”
With Davis standing on the sideline – rather than assigned to block Porter – the NFL sacks leader added one more to his ledger on a fourth-down play from the Dolphins’ 21-yard line with one minute remaining in the game.
Porter beat right tackle Barry Sims, playing in place of injured Adam Snyder, for a sack that assures the 49ers (5-9) of their sixth consecutive losing season. Porter leads the NFL with 17.5 sacks.
Davis and Porter, two of the team’s top self-promoters, began their battle 45 minutes before the game when Porter ventured over to the 49ers’ side of the field during warmups.
“I don’t know if you guys caught it or not, but we were out there trying to warm up and he (Porter) is on our side trying to start something,” 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill said. “What do you do if you’re
“You’re really getting disrespected at the time and, obviously, I thought that
“We might have been the key matchup, but the offensive line did a good job on him, as well,”
On the fourth-down play, Sims said he got a late start against Porter. Sims said he hoped Hill would get rid of the ball quickly. However, the 49ers needed a full 10 yards to keep the game alive.
“He got a good jump off the ball, and I was a little behind the count because of the crowd noise,” Sims said. “I wish I could have that one back. He just got my edge, and I wasn’t able to recover.”
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Running back DeShaun Foster, who entered the game with 78 yards rushing on 37 carries, gained 76 yards on 18 rushing attempts.
Foster, a seven-year NFL veteran, was pressed into his first start with the 49ers after Frank Gore was ruled out of action with a left ankle sprain.
“On the first carry, I felt like I could’ve gotten a bit more yards, but after that I was OK,” said Foster, who signed a one-year contract with the 49ers in the offseason after spending his first six NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
Foster did not carry the ball in the fourth quarter. Niners offensive coordinator Mike Martz dialed up 22 consecutive pass plays as the 49ers were trying to collect a come-from-behind victory.
“I think we were doing what we had to do to win,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. “I mean, obviously, I’d run the ball every down if I could. But that wasn’t going to happen today, particularly when you’re behind.
“I just think it was one of those situations where what we ran, well, that’s what we needed to do. I was trying to go with whatever worked.”
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Dolphins third-string tight end Joey Haynos, a rookie, provided a 14-3 lead in the second quarter when his first NFL reception was a 19-yard touchdown pass from Chad Pennington. Haynos was left all alone in the end zone, as the 49ers experienced a communications breakdown.
“What happened is, you have one group calling one defense, and another group calling something else,” Singletary said. “We were trying to get everybody on the same page.”
Said cornerback Walt Harris, “The call did not get relayed to everybody. That was just a communication breakdown.”
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Safety Mark Roman’s inability to break up a deep pass to tight end David Martin staked the Dolphins to a seven-point lead on
“He lost the ball,” Singletary said of Roman. “That’s it. It’s unfortunate. He got turned around, and the guy made a play.”
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Running back Thomas Clayton and linebacker Ahmad Brooks were in uniform for the first time, but neither got into the game.
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Injury report: Right tackle Adam Snyder left the game in the midway through the first quarter with an ankle sprain. He did not return, and his status for next week’s game at
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On the final drive, the 49ers got the ball to the Dolphins’ 21-yard line with 80 seconds remaining in the game.
Although the 49ers had plenty of time, Hill was instructed to spike the ball – costing the team a crucial down – to stop the clock with 1:18 remaining.
“We were trying to stop the clock so we could regroup and kind of figure out what we wanted to do with those next three downs,” Singletary said.
Because of faulty communications between the sideline and Hill, the formations of the plays called did not get relayed exactly as Martz had hoped.
“Sometimes when the crowd gets loud like that, it gets amplified through your helmet, as well,” Hill said. “All you get is bits and pieces, and you put it together. I guess I put two plays in to the wrong side. It was the right play, just to the wrong side.”
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Here are my quickie grades:
It wasn’t great and it wasn’t horrible. Hill did not make any glaring mistakes, but he also did not make the plays in the red zone that the 49ers needed to win this one. He threw for 233 yards with no touchdowns and no picks.
DeShaun Foster rushed for 76 yards and caught five passes for 25 yards. Michael Robinson also added 33 yards receiving. However, the backs took a backseat in the fourth quarter.
How ’bout Isaac Bruce? The man was clutch with four successful third-down receptions. Bruce finished with seven catches for 71 yards. However, his illegal formation penalty contributed to a stalled drive.
Holes were there in the run game, and the line generally did a good job in pass protection. Right tackle Barry Sims had some problems, including the sack he yielded on fourth down to end the team’s hopes.
Aubrayo Franklin stuffed a short-yardage situation and also recorded a sack. The Dolphins averaged 4.5 yards per carry, but some of that fell on the guys on the outside breaking containment.
There were some miscommunications on this level, most notably on the Dolphins’ second touchdown of the game. Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes combined for just seven sacks.
Really, it came down to just two bad plays. Safety Mark Roman lost track of a deep pass to tight end David Martin, who snatched the pass and took it 61 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. A blown coverage led to the Dolphins’ other touchdown.
Dominique Zeigler’s inexperience showed on punt returns, as he made one fair catch at the 4-yard line. Punter Andy Lee netted just 30 yards on five punts. However, Joe Nedney made all three field-goal attempts.
The 49ers went on the road against a leader in the AFC East, and could’ve, should’ve pulled it out. The defense faltered early, and the offense could not cash in with touchdowns. They let a golden opportunity slip away for a third-straight victory.
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