49ers Go South with Loss to Carolina | NBC Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Coverage of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers Go South with Loss to Carolina

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    49ers Go South with Loss to Carolina
    Getty Images
    CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 24: Josh Morgan #84 of the San Francisco 49ers is tackled by Marcus Hudson #25 of the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 24, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Josh Morgan;Marcus Hudson

    There will be no text messages predicting a division championship for the San Francisco 49ers tonight, after a 23-20 loss to the previously-winless Carolina Panthers.

    The defense gave up a 20-13 fourth quarter lead, and David Carr proved his uselessness as a Plan B in a complete failure of a 49ers effort on both offense and defense.

    Alex Smith was knocked from the game in the third quarter, and David Carr proved he's no upgrade by going a pathetic 5-for-13 for 67 yards and an interception -- in entire half of football.

    The 49ers looked like they had their mojo back early on, running their patented Frank Gore/Vernon Davis combo down the Panthers' throats early on. Gore had a 20-yard run up the middle, and Vernon sealed the deal with a one-yard touchdown catch.

    But not much else after that, and the 49ers went in tied 10-10 to the lowly Panthers at the half.

    And the the Alex Smith catastrophe came thirty seconds into the third quarter. Smith hobbled the field clutching his elbow having gone 9-for-19 for 129 yards, clearly looking like a guy who was done for the rest of the game.

    "Hopefully for the rest of the season," muttered a few cynical 49ers fans.

    Carr came in with the Niners down 13-10 and Mike Singletary looking like he might be fired by sundown. He eventually managed a field goal drive to tie it, and the 49ers defense took over.

    Ray McDonald intercepted a Matt Moore pass and ran the distance with that baby for a pick six, giving the 49ers a 20-13 lead.

    It wouldn't last. The Panthers gave their hometown crowd a treat with clutch play after clutch play once the two-minute warning hit.

    Matt Moore hit David Gettis for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 1:59 left in the fourth. The Panthers intercepted a David Carr pass immediately on the ensuing 49ers possession, and drove for a John Kasay field goal with 43 seconds remaining.

    The 49ers' defense gave up a whopping 380 yards on defense, and the Panthers scored 13 points off 49ers turnovers.

    So Mike Singletary still might be fired by sundown.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who thought the 49ers had a miracle comeback in them during that "Too many men on the field" replay challenge with time expired.