49ers Go South with Loss to Carolina

By Joe Kukura
|  Monday, Oct 25, 2010  |  Updated 7:31 AM PDT
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49ers Go South with Loss to Carolina

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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.

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