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49ers' fall from grace in Seattle hard to stomach

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Sept. 13, 2010 @ 5:07 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

After starting out like a house on fire in their season opener in Seattle, the 49ers crashed and burned in embarrassing fashion, receiving a very rude awakening from Pete Carroll's fired-up Seahawks in a 31-6 shellacking that immediately raised a number of red flags. Both the offense, which was handicapped by questionable play-calling and poor game management, and the defense, which went disturbingly downhill after dominating the Seahawks in the first quarter, will have to make major turnarounds in the team's Monday-night home opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Saints if the Niners want to be considered as serious playoff contenders.

The PFW Spin

Talk about a major meltdown! After being proclaimed the best-looking team in the NFC in the preseason by many league observers, the Niners couldn't have been a bigger disappointment in Week One.

What went wrong? Let's start with QB Alex Smith, who started off OK but ended up looking terribly out of sync with his receivers, particularly WR Michael Crabtree, who had a mere two catches for 12 yards and put forth a noticeably half-hearted attempt to bring down Marcus Trufant after the Seahwawks' corner intercepted a pass intended for Crabtree early in the third quarter and took it to the house for a back-breaking 32-yard score that put Seattle up 21-6.

It's hard not to hearken back to the well-documented altercation Crabtree recently had with teammate Vernon Davis, who by all accounts read the Niners' 2009 first-round pick the riot act for failing to get on the field in the preseason. Maybe it shouldn't surprise anybody that Smith, who managed only 1-of-15 third-down conversions (that's not a typo), seemed to have no rapport whatever with Crabtree after the receiver missed so much preseason playing time — a problem that head coach Mike Singletary reportedly alluded to after the game.

In addition, with the Seahawks stuffing the box and daring Smith to beat them, Niners RB Frank Gore managed only 39 yards on 17 carries, while the offensive line had all kinds of problems handling Qwest Field's notorious crowd noise. That was particularly the case with first-round ORT Anthony Davis, who gave up two sacks and a forced fumble and was guilty of a false start.

When you add extremely puzzling play selection inside the red zone and the pass defense's damaging over-aggressiveness to the mix, you have a recipe for disaster that leaves a bad taste that won't go away soon.

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