The results may have been the same this Sunday, but the reaction certainly wasn't.
Head coach Mike Singletary started off his first ever post-game press conference with an apology and a fiery summation of what went wrong in Sunday's 34-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
"I apologize for the first start," said Singletary. "It's like this, today was good for me. It was good for me because sometimes you take a step back and you think, you know what, I'm here, it's on, we are going to make it work, they are working hard, they are doing this, they are doing that, and it's going to change right now."
While it hasn't changed yet, with the 49ers instead dropping their fifth straight loss, Singletary promises that it will.
"It will change. It will change because they want it to change, not because of me. It will change because they want to be champions."
San Francisco's newest head coach said his team needs only to play out its formula for winning.
"Our formula is this - we go out and hit people in the mouth, that's number one. Number two, we are not a charity - we can not give them the game. That's number two. Number three, we execute from the very beginning to the very end of the game, that did not happen."
In fact, right out of the gates, the 49ers committed the kind of charitable donations that have plagued their season.
JT O'Sullivan was sacked on the second play of the game with the ball popping loose and bouncing around for a few seconds before center Eric Heitmann eventually collapsed on it back at the 5-yardline – for a 16-yard loss.
O'Sullivan didn't get so lucky on his next series. Threatening to score from the 6-yardline, Julian Peterson instead forced the ball out, which was scooped up by Patrick Kerney and returned 50 yards.
"I felt I was concentrating," said O'Sullivan. "But for one reason or the other, I have to find a way to protect the football."
Both drives led to short fields for Seattle and a quick 6-0 first quarter lead.
Seattle's offense then pieced together a lengthy 14-play, 63-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by TJ Duckett.
Early in the second quarter, O'Sullivan once again led his team to inside the 20, only to get sacked again and have to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Joe Nedney, which at least got the 49ers on the board with 7:31 left in the first half.
After trading three and outs, O'Sullivan and the offense were on the march again when Josh Wilson picked off O'Sullivan's 4th and 4 pass from the Seattle 29-yardline, returning it 75 yards for a touchdown and a 20-3 edge heading into the half.
Following the turnover, Singletary informed offensive coordinator Mike Martz that it was time to make a switch to backup quarterback Shaun Hill, who took one snap prior to the half and then finished out the game.
Although he was working from behind, Hill led the 49ers to another Nedney field goal on his first real drive at the start of the third quarter.
"There will be a lot of things to improve on, that's for sure," said Hill of his first time at quarterback this season. "It was a point in the game where we couldn't have any stalls. We had to always score on every possession and we needed touchdowns."
Hill eventually got a touchdown with a 2-yard pass to Jason Hill, who came into the game for an injured Arnaz Battle. It was the receiver's first touchdown of the year, as well as his most significant playing time on offense.
"Shaun came in and it was a new energy for us," said J. Hill. "We tried to carry along, but unfortunately we shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit when he got in there too."
Hill went on to complete 15 of 23 passes for 173 yards, and finished with a 102.3 QB Rating.
"Every time you're called in the game to play quarterback, your role is to play quarterback," said Hill of finishing out the game. "No matter what the situation is, you have to go in and play to the best of your ability. Last year, and today, that's all I tried to do."
Singletary said the quarterback situation will require further evaluation, but for today, he felt that Hill could best manage the game.
"I talked to the quarterbacks early in the week," explained Singletary. "I said, 'All I'm asking you to do is manage the game. You don't have to go out and win the game. Just manage the game. We'll win. We've got other…we've got special teams, we've got defense. We've got other parts of the offense that will click and work. Give us a chance.'"
Unfortunately in falling behind, other parts of the offense, namely Frank Gore's ground game dried up quickly. Gore had 73 yards and a 6.6 average by the end of the first half, but added only 21 yards on the ground in the final two quarters.
While the offense eliminated the turnovers in the second half, the unit continued to shoot itself in the foot all game long with penalties. Included in its six fouls for 55 yards was a facemask penalty on Gore at the end of his 29-yard second quarter run that would have set the 49ers up inside the five.
"Too many mistakes," summed up Gore. "We had plays, we made plays, but we had too many mistakes. We have to find a way to stop making so many mistakes that we've been making. It's been six games, and it's the same thing. We just have to clean that up. If we clean that up, nobody will stop us."
And while the 49ers defense did an outstanding job holding Seattle's ground game to just 39 rushing yards for a 1.4 average, backup quarterback Seneca Wallace struck gold with two touchdown passes to fullback Leonard Weaver. Weaver lived up to his moniker by catching a short pass and then weaving his way through the 49ers defense for 43 yards and a touchdown late in the third quarter. He also slipped unnoticed along the Seattle sidelines to give Wallace a wide open target. Wallace delivered the throw, Weaver made the grab, picked up a key block and dashed his way along the sidelines for a 62-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"It's an embarrassing loss to me personally," said cornerback Walt Harris. "Obviously we felt we had a better team out there on the field and our expectations were different coming in. We basically didn't perform to where we needed to be and it showed a lot on the field. Seattle is definitely banged up, especially on offense and we have to make plays. Guys are just not making enough consistent plays. There are plays being made out there, but just not consistently."
What has been consistent throughout the five-game skid has been the 49ers knack for beating themselves, something that has been talked about time and again, and bottom line, must change.
"We are a really good team when we don't kill ourselves," said guard David Baas. "I truly believe that is what we've been doing – we keep shooting ourselves in the foot with stupid stuff and until we fix that, things are just, it's going to be hard. We are playing against ourselves and the Seahawks. We just need to improve on that, and change it now."
With a bye this week, the 49ers will have extra time to get things adjusted. Singletary plans to use it wisely.
"I'll put it this way, if something like this is going to happen, happen now and not on national television," said Singletary. "We have between now and that time when we play Arizona, to correct some things. It's not so much the play, it's more of the mindset and still finding out who really wants to win. Sometimes, you have guys, it's been so long that we've been unsuccessful, sometimes it's like a bad relationship, you don't know when it's going to turn again. And after awhile you become part of the problem, rather than the solution. I want guys who are solution-oriented, starting with myself. I'm not going to try and make something work when it doesn't fit. That's really the bottom line to me."
Game Notes: TE Delanie Walker (elbow), T Barry Sims (ankle), RS Allen Rossum (hamstring), and WR Arnaz Battle (foot) exited the game early due to injuries.
Singletary said he will have to think about the quarterback situation before naming a starter for the Arizona game.