The 49ers’ offense is sputtering and their defense is dinged-up ahead of Sunday’s visit to the Superdome
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jim Harbaugh will not point a finger at one player in particular, or even one coach.
This beating is being felt by all.
Harbaugh vowed to gather input from everybody involved in Sunday’s lackluster 10-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers to better understand exactly why a 49ers offense so prolific in recent weeks had so many problems.
“The way we look at it is as a unit. Offensively, we didn’t play well enough to win the game,” Harbaugh said Monday. “Across the board, we take accountability for that and have fingerprints on it. I’m not going to go through and dissect position by position, raking anybody over the coals. I don’t think that’s the best thing for us.”
Harbaugh declined to provide specifics about underperforming players or why the Panthers were able to penetrate San Francisco’s typically stout offensive line and sack Colin Kaepernick a career-high six times — or why Kaepernick seemed so uncomfortable in an 11-for-22 day for 91 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
“We had a good week of practice,” Kaepernick said. “I think everybody was ready. We just didn’t execute when we got on the field.”
Now there’s another tall task ahead for the Niners (6-3): A date with the surging Saints (7-2), who set an NFL-record with 40 first downs and a franchise-best 625 total yards in a 49-17 victory over the Cowboys. San Francisco visits the Big Easy for the first time since February’s 34-31 Super Bowl loss to Baltimore.
“We’ve got a tough game coming up, and we’re not going to wallow in it,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to move on to New Orleans.”
Injured tight ends Vernon Davis and Garrett Celek both were undergoing further testing Monday, Davis for a concussion that kept him out of the second half and Celek for an injured hamstring suffered in the first quarter. Harbaugh said the team will explore its options but wasn’t ready to guess whether that might mean bringing someone in from outside the organization.
In addition, rookie first-round pick safety Eric Reid, the former Dutchtown High and LSU star, suffered his second concussion of the season. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald injured an ankle.
An already-stagnant 49ers passing attack missed Davis’ ability to stretch the field and outleap defenders.
“I think that definitely contributed ... one of the things that contributed to the rhythm of the offense. No, I’m not going to use any excuses or is anybody going to alibi,” Harbaugh said. “But we did lose two tight ends in the game, Celek before Vernon, and that contributed.”
Still, the glaring thing from Sunday’s game was 151 total yards for the Niners, who had put up 31 or more points during each victory in a five-game winning streak snapped by the Panthers. Running back Frank Gore accounted for 82 of those yards, while wideout Mario Manningham had three catches in his season debut nearly 11 months after major knee surgery.
“We just didn’t execute,” wide receiver Anquan Boldin said, “point blank.”