49ers Drop the Ball in Thrilling Loss

Champs knock 49ers into an 0-2 hole.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20: Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49er runs after a catch against Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the New Orleans Saints during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California.(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Vernon Davis;Malcolm Jenkins

    The San Francisco 49ers may have earned some style points for taking the defending champs down to the final two seconds. But that's little consolation for a trendy preseason pick finding themselves off to an 0-2 start.

    The 49ers lost on a 37-yard Saints field goal at the last second, falling 25-22 in their home opener at Candlestick. They'd just tied the game 22-22 on a miraculous touchdown drive and successful two-point conversion to Vernon Davis.

    Four turnovers inside the Saints’ 30-yard line kept the 49ers on the wrong end of a game they should have won. Without those four turnovers, the 49ers might have won this game in a blowout. But the Saints looked like they'd win a blowout early on.
    The 49ers started the night in Keystone Kops fashion on their first drive –snapping the ball over Alex Smith’s head, batting the ball illegally, and gifting the Saints a safety and a 2-0 lead just 90 seconds into the game.
    Can’t blame Jimmy Raye’s slow play-calling for that one.
    Then we saw the Saints go marching in methodical fashion for a touchdown on their first drive, and Alex Smith throw an interception to Saints’ Roman Harper while in in easy field goal range. When the officials ruled the 49ers had fumbled a punt at their own six yard line, it looked like a Saints' rout of the 49ers was on.
    But for the first time in the 2010 season, the smashmouth game plan began to work.
    The momentum switch came with the corrected call from the replay booth – the “fumble” had never touched 49er return man Phillip Adams, and San Francisco took possession at their own 18, down 9-0 late in the first.
    The 49ers rode Frank Gore’s running into the red zone, and once there Gore carried a 12-yard Alex Smith pass into the end zone to make it 9-7.
    Alex Smith was 8-for-9 on the drive for 56 yards. The Saints were the ones burning the time outs foolishly this time around, squandering two on defense as the 49ers drove down field.
    The Niners came two yards from taking the lead just before halftime, but Delanie Walker fumbled a catch at the Saints’ four yard line. Still, credit the 49ers – they held the ball for nearly 11 of the 15 minutes of the second quarter.

    They were no less formidable in the second half, taking a 14-9 lead on their first drive of the second half. Anthony Davis got the score on a two-yard run, but Michael Crabtree provided the highlight of the drive with a 32-yard catch-and-showboat.

    The 49ers looked like world-beaters against the defending champs, but the feeling wouldn't last. The Saints took back the lead and added two fourth quarter field goals for a late 22-14 lead.

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    Alex Smith's signature drive thus far in his 49ers career came down 22-14 late in the fourth. He marched the 49ers down field in an 82-yard drive, capped by a Frank Gore touchdown and Smith completing a two-point conversion to Vernon Davis.

    But when Garrett Hartley kicked the winning field goal for the Saints, Smith's signature drive went for naught.

    Reggie Bush was carried off in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury, and did not return.