SANTA CLARA (CBS / AP) — Veteran left tackle Joe Staley accepted a good chunk of the blame for San Francisco’s problems on the offensive line in a 30-7 exhibition loss to Houston on Saturday night.
“Very disgusted with what we saw on the offensive line,” Staley said Monday. “Coach challenged us, he challenged us in the meetings to come out and have a really great week of practice and really great game. We’ve got to get going. The season is upon us and we’ve got to play a lot better than that.”
Staley watched game film Monday morning and saw again that he and his linemates were repeatedly beaten by the Texans’ tenacious four-man rush; San Francisco gave up three sacks. Coach Jim Harbaugh on Sunday called for improvement in technique and fundamentals.
“We were violated at times,” Harbaugh said.
Staley, a fifth-year pro who received a $42 million, six-year contract extension in June 2009 to lead this line for the long term, was eager to get back on the practice field because he had a “bad feeling” still lingering from the game.
The 49ers finish the preseason Thursday night at San Diego. Staley, for one, is happy to play again right away in a short week after Saturday’s embarrassment in front of the home fans at Candlestick Park.
The 49ers, coming off a 6-10 season in which they missed the playoffs and failed to post a winning record for the eighth straight year, open the regular season Sept. 11 at home against the defending NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks.
That’s less than two weeks to clean up. Staley wouldn’t say his unit is behind because of the lockout and missed minicamps and organized team activities, either.
He let Connor Barwin blow by him on one sack.
“No excuses. I got beat,” Staley said. “We were terrible.”
Starting quarterback Alex Smith wound up 2 for 6 for 17 yards, just 4 more yards in the air than he lost in two sacks—and rookie second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick wasn’t much better.
The Texans had 28 first downs to the 49ers’ six, and Houston outgained San Francisco 417-105.
Understanding schemes, Staley said, is not the issue. Staley agreed there were problems with blocking technique that led to no protection for the quarterbacks.
“We’re there (in understanding the system). We’ve just got to play better,” Staley said. “All five guys, we need to play better.”
Any feedback from the QBs?
“We’ve got to protect,” Staley said.
Smith was sacked 25 times last season and threw 10 interceptions.
Meanwhile Monday, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio still sees plenty of things his defense must improve before the season begins. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks intercepted a pass by Matt Schaub on the first play of the game Saturday and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown for San Francisco’s only points.
Schaub made it look easy after that as the 49ers struggled to cover and keep up.
“I think in some ways we’re fine, we’re where we need to be, and other ways we’re not,” Fangio said. “We’re still obviously behind from a mental standpoint as far as the whole package being implemented just because of the lost time. But we all knew that coming in, so that was just something that we had to accept both as coaches and players. We had to learn the whole package in a timely process and we may never get to the whole package this year because of that.”
Notes: Wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who has missed a third straight training camp because of a left foot injury, wasn’t in uniform but caught some passes from the QBs. Harbaugh hopes he will get back on the field in an official capacity this week. … CB Shawntae Spencer, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, was in shoulder pads and on the field.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)