SANTA CLARA (CBS / AP) — Jim Harbaugh didn’t spend any time wallowing Monday after the most lopsided loss in his two seasons as coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
He has only three days to prepare his team for Thursday’s key NFC West game against Seattle, which is tied with the 49ers and Arizona Cardinals at 4-2, and he might have to do it without the services of Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Staley.
Staley is visiting a neurologist after suffering a concussion during Sunday’s 26-3 loss to the New York Giants, who recorded six sacks while winning a physical battle in the trenches on both sides of the line.
>>49ers Press Pass – October 15, 2012
“It certainly wouldn’t be very human if you didn’t hurt today,” Harbaugh said. “But there’s no time. You’ve got to dust yourself off and ride. Right now we have no choice. We have to get to Seattle right quick. We’ve got a football fight coming.”
The loss to the Giants came after two dominant victories over New York’s two other NFL teams. San Francisco overpowered the Jets 34-0 on Sept. 30 then set a franchise record with 621 yards of total offense the next week during a 45-3 rout of the Buffalo Bills.
But just as their impressive season-opening wins over Green Bay and Detroit were followed by a clunker against Minnesota, the 49ers hardly had the look of one of the league’s elite teams against the Giants.
The much-anticipated rematch of last season’s NFC championship game—won 20-17 in overtime by the Giants—became a blowout by the third quarter as New York scored the game’s final 26 points. It was the first time a Harbaugh-coached 49ers team had lost by more than 10 points.
“I was pretty kind of blown away,” said right guard Alex Boone, who moved to left tackle after Staley was hurt late in the third quarter. “It’s hard to sit here and talk about it now because all I have on my mind right now is Seattle. But we have to come back and look at it this weekend after the Seattle game to find where did we go wrong, what did we do wrong. We have to make this better because we can’t have this happen the rest of the year.”
The 49ers unraveled offensively after a strong start during which they held a 125-20 edge in total yards entering the second quarter.
Alex Smith entered the game as the NFL’s top-rated quarterback but left it with three interceptions after throwing just one pick in San Francisco’s first five games. After two 12-play drives to begin the game, the 49ers recorded just one first down in each of the second and third quarters and never had a drive advance beyond the New York 24-yard line.
Add missed field goals from 43 and 52 yards by All-Pro kicker David Akers, and it was a very uncharacteristic outing for the 49ers.
“It’s easy to look at yesterday’s game and ask questions about pretty much everything,” Smith said. “Because none of it looked good. We had good balance early, but we just got away from it. We got down multiple scores and got one-dimensional and then started forcing things, and then it got really bad. And then the turnovers are just like the nail in the coffin.”
Smith was sacked four times and backup Colin Kaepernick was dumped twice as San Francisco struggled up front against a New York defense that also hit the two quarterbacks nine other times.
The Giants were able to get that pressure even though San Francisco spent most of the game in shotgun formation, including on 16 of its first 22 plays.
Boone had to move from right guard once Staley was injured because the 49ers have no other offensive tackles on their roster. Boone was the team’s third tackle behind Staley and Anthony Davis last season before moving into the starting lineup this year.
Veteran Leonard Davis took Boone’s place at guard, and that could be what the 49ers have to go with Thursday against another formidable defensive front if Staley is unable to return. Staley’s status won’t be determined until later in the week.
The 49ers are just pleased to have another game this week to help them forget what happened Sunday.
“The one bright spot about a Thursday game is you don’t have to deal with the loss for the whole week,” center Jonathan Goodwin said. “You get a chance in a couple of nights to go out and try to make the week a lot better than it would have been.”
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)