Instead of getting down, San Francisco's dynamic duo got back to
work -- and they finally got the 49ers past George Seifert.
Owens caught two touchdown passes from Garcia as the 49ers beat
their former coach for the first time in five tries, posting a
24-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night.
Seifert, who led the 49ers to two Super Bowl victories during
eight seasons at the helm of his hometown team, had never lost to
San Francisco since taking over at Carolina.
Of course, Seifert didn't coach most of the 49ers' current
players, and the San Francisco teams Seifert beat had won just 10
games in two seasons. Led by Garcia and Owens, the newest edition
of the rebuilding team is much different -- and apparently much
better, as its 3-1 record attests.
"To be honest, it really didn't bother me," Owens said. "I'm
not concerned with how many times they've beaten us. It's a
different team. ... We knew we could beat these guys."
When Seifert resigned after the 1996 season, the 49ers'
franchise quarterback and star receiver were Steve Young and Jerry
Rice. In his third return to Candlestick Point, Seifert watched the
49ers' new scoring combo play an outstanding game.
"They did a great job getting the ball to their key players,
but I'm more worried about our team right now," Seifert said.
"We're in a negative spiral. I didn't like that second half, which
is what I was saying last week, too."
Owens had eight catches for 118 yards, while Garcia was 17-for-31
for 212 yards and also rushed for a score. Garrison Hearst, whose
improbable comeback keeps gaining steam, rushed for 73 yards as San
Francisco started 3-1 for the seventh time in eight seasons.
After an inconsistent first half for the 49ers, Carolina went up
14-10 on Evans' 39-yard interception return. Garcia miscommunicated
with Owens, who turned upfield as Garcia lobbed a soft pass into an
area that was unoccupied -- except for Evans, who neatly sidestepped
Garcia on his way to the end zone.
That was one of few problems between Owens and Garcia; they
hooked up three times on the resulting scoring drive. On the eighth
play, Garcia found Owens over the middle, and he high-stepped his
way to a 29-yard touchdown.
Later in the third, Garcia hit Owens with a perfectly thrown
20-yard fade for another score.
"He did a great job of getting open, and I just made the right
decision and put the ball where he could make a catch," Garcia
said. "We started to play much better and execute better (in the
Rookie Chris Weinke had an inconsistent game for Carolina (1-3),
completing 29 of 47 for 275 yards and a touchdown. He also threw three
drive-killing interceptions, including one by 49ers cornerback
Ahmed Plummer at the San Francisco 13 with two minutes left.
Wesley Walls had 10 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown for the
Panthers, but their offense couldn't score in the second half.
"After halftime, we slipped out of what we were doing," said
Tshimanga Biakabutuka, who rushed for 45 yards. "I don't know why.
We stopped doing everything, and it was a different ballgame."
Carolina didn't mount a strong offensive drive until late in the
penalty-filled game, but Plummer's diving interception, his second
of the season, sealed the victory.
For the second week, San Francisco mounted a strong rushing game
despite a thin offensive line. Center Jeremy Newberry missed the
game with an injury, while left tackle Derrick Deese was ejected
late in the first half for fighting with Carolina third-string
safety Jarrod Cooper.
Though Carolina's meager defensive statistics suggested an
opportunity for San Francisco, the Panthers moved the ball much
better than the 49ers in the first half. Carolina finally scored
with a 10-play, 99-yard drive that ended in Walls' 10-yard touchdown catch
1:07 before halftime.
49ers center Ben Lynch, who replaced Newberry, sprained his
ankle during the game, but kept playing. Wide receiver J.J. Stokes sprained
his knee, but also stayed in. ... Deese slammed Cooper to the
ground shortly after they exchanged punches, but he was remorseful
afterward. "Getting ejected is not acceptable. I'm a team leader,
and we're short linemen," Deese said. ... Lance Schulters'
interception late in the first quarter started the 49ers' first
scoring drive, capped by Garcia's 1-yard touchdown plunge.