Niners see how far they must go after blowout loss to Chicago Print
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Sunday, 26 August 2007 16:02
NFL Headline News

 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Mike Nolan keeps a slip of paper in his pocket on game days so the San Francisco 49ers coach can make notes whenever something goes wrong.
After 35 plays in the first quarter of the 49ers' exhibition loss to the Chicago Bears on Saturday night, Nolan already had made 23 derogatory notes.
``That's a really bad first quarter,'' Nolan said Sunday after the 49ers made their first cuts and began their recovery from a confidence-shaking 31-28 loss at Soldier Field.
By nearly every measure, the 49ers' first-teamers didn't measure up to their defending NFC champion counterparts in Chicago. San Francisco fell behind 17-0 on the first play of the second quarter, and the Niners left the field at halftime with a 31-13 deficit - and a 17-1 disparity in first downs alone.
Alex Smith's only scoring drive stretched 6 yards after a Chicago turnover, and Walt Harris scored the other first-team points on a 52-yard interception return - after the veteran cornerback gave up a 45-yard pass on the first play of his first preseason game.
``I would be kind of crazy not to (be concerned),'' Harris said. ``Definitely there are things to be concerned about. ... Every guy made a mistake here and there, so we just need to look at the film and see what happened, and go from there to get better.''
After four straight losing records and an offseason of free-agent spending, the 49ers have high hopes of a return to respectability this fall. Nolan didn't sugarcoat his club's shortcomings after its first road game of the summer, but he also doesn't sound ready to panic in the preseason.
``There's a lot of things to be gained from it,'' Nolan said. ``It was a sloppy game, (but) in the preseason, one of your main goals is to look and see who's going to make us better.''
Nolan saw several candidates for that distinction in the 49ers' second-teamers, but he won't announce any changes to his starting lineup until later in the week. San Francisco finishes its preseason schedule Thursday at San Diego, and Nolan would prefer to have his starting lineup fairly set by then.
The 49ers' offense managed just 206 total yards, with Smith going a pedestrian 4-of-8. But Smith already had two strong exhibition performances, and Nolan doesn't seem terribly worried about the offense, which won't be at full strength until Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore returns from his broken hand.
Nolan said Gore would be available to play Thursday, but the coach probably won't allow him to suit up.
And though San Francisco's first-team defense was shredded by Rex Grossman, Bernard Berrian and their Chicago teammates, the San Francisco coach praised rookie linebacker Patrick Willis, safety Michael Lewis and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga.
Though the loss raised plenty of questions for Nolan's coaching staff in its short week of preparation for the Chargers, the poor performances made one decision easier before Thursday's exhibition finale.
``Had we played very well for three quarters, I would have at least contemplated not playing (the starters) in the (San Diego) game,'' Nolan said. ``That's one of the good things that came out of the game: I'm not contemplating that any more, and hopefully for a good reason.''
ns. Nolan released Maxwell one week before final cuts so he'll have a better chance to hook on with another team - but if he doesn't find a home, Nolan might welcome him back to the practice squad. ... S Donald Strickland will miss the exhibition finale with a bruised lung. Strickland traveled home from Chicago on his own after a quick trip to the hospital for X-rays. ... WR Darrell Jackson is unlikely to play against San Diego after straining his hamstring, while Nolan also ruled out Franklin, TE Billy Bajema, S Dashon Goldson and S Vickiel Vaughn with injuries. ... The 49ers waived LB Roderick Green, LB John Syptak, K MacKenzie Hoambrecker, P Ken Parrish, WR Dominique Zeigler, FB Steve Dildine, OL Nick Steitz and CB Sammy Joseph. ... Green was the only released player who had a prominent role with San Francisco last season, getting 4 1/2 sacks in nine games. But like Maxwell, Green couldn't shine amid the 49ers' new depth, falling behind Parys Haralson and rookie Jay Moore. ... Nolan said the 49ers will place DL Melvin Oliver and WR C.J. Brewer on injured reserve this week.

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