49ers suffer worst loss since move to Candlestick

How bad was the 49ers’ 45-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday? Probably worse than you thought.



It was the tied for the third-worst home defeat in franchise history. And it was the 49ers’ worst home loss in 42 years – a 45-3 loss to Detroit at Kezar Stadium in October 1967.


And this came at a time when coach Mike Singletary – and everybody else around the organization — believed these kinds of losses were a thing of the past. The 49ers (3-2) now own a half-game lead in the NFC West over the Arizona Cardinals (2-2) entering their bye week.


“I never saw it coming,” 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes said. “Whatever could’ve gone wrong, it did – times two.”


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“In a game like this, I think our coaches, all of us, have to do a better job of preparing the guys,” Singletary said. “Obviously, they were not prepared. Our players have to take their share of it, as well.


“We did not play very smart today.”


Running back Glen Coffee and cornerback Dre’ Bly, an 11-year professional, were responsible for two of the more noticeable meltdowns.


Coffee said he thought Josh Morgan had scored a touchdown in the first quarter after breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and sprinting more than 60 yards. Coffee was late getting back into the huddle, and the 49ers had to burn a timeout.


“I don’t want to talk about it,” Coffee said. “I’m kind of mad about that.”


Three plays later, Coffee scored his first NFL touchdown. But in the second quarter, the 49ers were out of timeouts and could not challenge a ruling of Delanie Walker’s fumble on a kickoff return. Walker appeared to be down by contact.


Three plays later, Michael Turner scored on a 3-yard touchdown. The Falcons scored three touchdowns in a span of 5 minutes, 45 seconds for a 35-10 lead.


That continued in the second half when Bly appeared to make a potential big play when he cut in front of Falcons receiver Roddy White to intercept quarterback Matt Ryan’s pass at the 49ers’ 9.


Despite being approximately 75 yards from a touchdown – with the 49ers trailing by 25 points – Bly appeared to begin showboating by placing his hand behind his helmet, a la Deion Sanders.


He made it another 15 yards before White caught Bly from behind and stripped him of the ball. The Falcons recovered the fumble to retain possession, and later added a field goal.


Bly made no apologies for his ill-timed celebration.


“I’m going to be me – that’s who I’ve always been,” Bly said. “I like to have fun when I play the game. When I make plays, I’ve made a lot, I express myself. But I had that ball tucked, and he got the ball. That was a great play by Roddy.”


Bly might have been lucky that Singletary did not see what the television audience saw.


Said Singletary, “No, I didn’t see that (showboating). I just saw him basically not take care of the football – not showboat.”


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Quarterback Shaun Hill completed just 15 of 38 passes for 198 yards with an interception and no touchdowns. He was sacked three times and constantly under pressure. It was the first time the 49ers have lost in Hill’s eight career starts at Candlestick.


“I thought he was running for his life the whole game,” Singletary said.


Hill was clearly angry several times in the second half. He said his frustration was directed at nobody but himself.


“I was not agitated with my teammates,” Hill said. “I was agitated with myself at times and with the way things were going, perhaps.”


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And the news gets worse.


Safety Michael Lewis, an eight-year veteran who has been playing exceptional football, has an unclear future after he sustained his third concussion since the middle of August in the second half of Sunday’s game.


“This whole concussion thing is new to everybody, and I think we just have to continue to evaluate and look at it for what it is and go forward from there,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said.


Lewis sustained a concussion during a joint practice with the Raiders in Napa on Aug. 18. He was cleared to play in the 49ers’ exhibition game Aug. 29 against the Dallas Cowboys, and sustained concussion in that game, too. Lewis sat out the final exhibition game, but has been in the starting lineup for each of the 49ers’ first five games.


Meanwhile, linebacker Jeff Ulbrich also has serious concussion concerns. Ulbrich sustained a concussion in the 49ers’ victory last week against the St. Louis Rams. Ulbrich, a 10-year veteran, has sustained several concussions throughout his career.


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            Lewis was one of four players who did not return after sustaining injuries. Defensive lineman Ray McDonald (left ankle sprain), right tackle Adam Snyder (left thigh contusion) and cornerback Tarell Brown (right groin strain) left the game with their injuries. Running back Glen Coffee had a left leg contusion, but he was able to return.


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Former 49ers offensive lineman Harvey Dahl made his presence felt as Atlanta‘s starting right guard. Dahl, who served as a Falcons captain, nearly ran over Keena Turner, one of the 49ers’ honorary captains before the game on his way back to the sideline after the coin toss.


Dahl then got in some late hits – but was not penalized – against 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes and also got into shouting match with 49ers coach Mike Singletary. Dahl was named the winner of the inaugural Thomas Herrion Award in 2005 for making the most of his opportunity.


“No. 1, I should not have done that,” Singletary said. “Even though the player was talking to me, I should not have said what I said. And it wasn’t anything bad, it was just something that shouldn’t have happened. As a coach, I just needed to overlook that and move on, but you get caught up in the heat of the moment.


“I wish I had more coaching etiquette, OK?”


When asked if he knew Dahl, Singletary said, “No. I don’t even want to talk about it any more. I don’t know the player.”


Spikes was never teammates with Dahl, but he knew about Dahl’s past with the 49ers.


“He has a little something with this team,” Spikes said. “They cut him because he wasn’t worth a (expletive).”


Spikes was flagged late in the game for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Dahl.


“We lost the battle, but that doesn’t mean I have to sit back and be happy,” Spikes said.


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The 49ers return to action on Oct. 25 against the Houston Texans. They injured running back Frank Gore, who missed two games with an ankle injury, to be back. The 49ers also expect to gain the services of rookie receiver Michael Crabtree, who signed a six-year contract on Wednesday.


Crabtree was on the sideline during Sunday’s game. He spent a lot of time conversing with rookie quarterback Nate Davis, perhaps his best friend on the team.


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