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Notebook: 49ers Poised to Bounce Back

Posted Oct 14, 2012

It’s hard to find bright spots in a 26-3 loss, but the 49ers don’t have time to dwell on defeat. Shortly after Sunday’s deflating loss to the New York Giants at Candlestick Park, the 49ers were already focused on their upcoming Thursday night matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.

The locker room was understandably quiet after the game, but San Francisco isn’t in the business of making excuses.

“It can’t get any worse than this,” Tarell Brown said. “All we can do is build from it, learn from our mistakes and keep grinding. At the end of the day, it’s one loss.”

The 49ers have shown their resiliency throughout the Jim Harbaugh era and have never lost back-to-back games under their head coach. In fact, San Francisco bounced back from last year’s 16-6 loss at Baltimore with arguably its most impressive performance of the year, a 26-0 shutout of the St. Louis Rams.

But with a 4-2 Seahawks team coming to town for a primetime matchup and just three days to prepare, the 49ers have switched their focus to Week 7.

“With four days until kickoff, we have to move on to Thursday,” Donte Whitner said. “If we let this one linger, it can go into that game and we don’t need that. We don’t need two in a row, so we have to quickly forget about this one.”

If the first quarter was any indication, the 49ers were primed to put together another impressive offensive performance, following last week’s record-setting outing against the Bills. Alex Smith and company marched the ball down the field, outgaining the Giants 120 yards to 25 and picked up seven first downs while New York had just one.

But David Akers’ first-quarter, 42-yard field goal accounted for the only points the 49ers would score all afternoon. And while Akers missed two other attempts in the contest, he set a franchise record by converting a field goal in his 22nd consecutive game.

“There’s definitely times that we were moving the ball,” Harbaugh said. “We weren’t able to finish drives or convert points from them. And did the Giants play a very good game? Absolutely.”

Like his coach, Smith attributed much of the game’s outcome to a stingy Giants defense, while shouldering his share of the blame. The 49ers signal-caller finished 19 of 30 for 200 yards and three interceptions, his most in the Harbaugh era.

“In the first half, we felt like we were moving the ball over those two drives,” Smith said. “Ended up kicking field goals and we can’t do that.”

The Giants also did a good job of limiting the 49ers’ top-ranked rushing attack while playing with the lead, holding San Francisco to 80 yards on 17 carries. Frank Gore had eight carries for 36 yards, his lowest output of the season.

“We still can grow,” Gore said. “We’re better than how we played today and we know that. The Giants came out and played great football. We put ourselves in bad situations and they took advantage of it. I know as a team, we’re happy it’s a short week. We got a tough Seahawks (team) coming in, they’re a pretty good team. We just got to watch the film and get better off all our mistakes.”

Another aspect of the offense that was hard to get going was the 11-85 connection. Vernon Davis has established himself as one of the game’s top tight ends again in 2012 and the New York Giants made sure to keep him under wraps. Big Blue paid extra attention to Davis all afternoon and limited him to three catches for 37 yards.

“It was frustrating for me, I can’t lie,” Davis said. “They were banging me from when I released from the line by the defensive ends and when I got into my route they had a guy over the top of me. It was just one of those games. What do I do?”

Despite the lopsided final score, the 49ers aren’t lacking for confidence. They’re still 4-2 and in a three-way tie with Seattle and Arizona atop the NFC West.

As the defending division champions, San Francisco is eager to show that the road to win the West still runs through Candlestick Park and that it still belongs among the league’s elite.

“We don’t feel like there’s a gap,” Whitner said of his team and the reigning Super Bowl Champion Giants. “We know it’s two evenly matched football teams and they got the better of us today.”

Moss Joins Elite Club

Of the few highlights in Sunday’s game for the 49ers, Randy Moss’ 55-yard reception in the third quarter stands out most. The veteran receiver also hauled in a 20-yard catch earlier in the afternoon, but his deep 55-yard catch down the middle from Smith marked San Francisco’s longest play of the game.

Asked why the 49ers didn’t try to find Moss down the field more often throughout the game, Harbaugh said hindsight was 20-20.

“Go back and say, ‘Why didn’t you?’ or, ‘Should have done that,’ that’s an undefeated way of looking at things,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’ll see if we can’t bounce back real fast and get ready for this ball game Thursday night.”

With the catch, Moss also became the fourth player in NFL history to surpass the 15,000-yard mark for his career, joining Jerry Rice (22,895), Terrell Ownes (15,934) and Isaac Bruce (15,208).

Fellow receiver Mario Manningham also had a big day against his former teammates, catching five passes for a game-high 72 yards.

Boone Shows Versatility

When Joe Staley left Sunday’s game after being concussed on an Antrel Rolle interception return in the third quarter, Alex Boone shifted from his position as starting right guard to left tackle. Leonard Davis filled in for Boone at right guard, in a game when Smith and Colin Kaepernick were sacked for a combined six times.

“Felt a little shaky at first, but it’s just like riding a bike,” Boone said of his position switch to tackle.

Boone spent all of last season as the team’s backup swing tackle, before elevating into the starting lineup at guard. But after seeing his team suffer its worst defeat of the Harbaugh era, Boone said there were no positives to be gleaned.

“No,” Boone said. “A loss is a loss and we didn’t do enough as an offense. I take responsibility for that. Putting a little heat on Alex and giving up a sack, that was my fault. I’ll take the blame on my shoulders and I’ll come back this week and get better.”

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