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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, left, drops back to throw as Tennessee Titans defensive end William Hayes rushes in the first quarter during their NFL game in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
The 49ers losing streak has reached four games after getting stunned at home by Tennessee. Cortland Finnegan’s late fourth quarter 39-yard interception return for a touchdown lead the way to a 34-27 Titans victory.
The Titans’ Chris Johnson and his blazing speed accounted for two of Tennessee’s touchdowns, the second coming on a fourth and goal pitch for two yards and a 24-20 lead. On the following drive, one of Alex Smith’s three interceptions on the game resulted in a field goal that gave Tennessee a seven-point lead before the Finnegan touchdown. The 49ers added a touchdown with under a minute to go, Jason Hill's second of the day from Alex Smith to end the scoring in what was a day-long shootout.
Of all the NFL’s teams not named the Raiders, the 49ers and Titans have spent less time in the red zone than any of the league’s others this season, yet being on the end zone’s doorstep was a common occurrence. After the Niners opened the scoring with a 40-yard Joe Nedney field goal, the Titans answered with a Rob Bironas 21-yard field goal, each the only scores of the first quarter.
Tennessee grabbed the game’s first touchdown as Vince Young strolled seven yards on a keeper in the second quarter following a Rod Hood interception of Alex Smith. Yet, Smith collected himself on the following drive hitting Vernon Davis with a laser on an over-the-shoulder, 40-yard pass play that set up a 3-yard Frank Gore touchdown tying the game at 10.
Before the half, Smith lead the Niners on 9-play, 82-yard TD drive before buying time and hitting Jason Hill (his first catch of the season) for a 12-yard score putting San Francisco up 17-10. Smith’s accuracy out the pocket and a couple of key connections with rookie Michael Crabtree set up the score.
In the third quarter, Chris Johnson took over after an Alex Smith fumble, accounting for all 36 yards (rushing and catching) and a 1-yard dive on a touchdown drive that tied the game at 17. The 49ers answered, taking back the lead at 20-17 in the fourth quarter on the following possession with Nedney’s second field goal of the game, a 25-yarder capping a 15-play, 66-yard drive that came down to fourth and goal from the seven.
The (3-5) 49ers have a short week of preparation before their next game on Thursday when they host the Chicago Bears at Candlestick.