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SAN FRANCISCO 20, WASHINGTON 10

49ers' Running Attack Is Fluid

September 23, 2002|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — In the 48 hours before Sunday's game, a stomach virus infected nearly a third of the San Francisco 49ers. Sparsely attended team meetings were cut short, and some players wore surgical masks to avoid the bug.

The Washington Redskins had no such excuses for why their offense still looks so sickly.

Terrell Owens scored on a spectacular 38-yard run, and the 49ers played stellar defense and rushed for 252 yards in a grinding 20-10 victory over the Redskins.

Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia missed most of the second half with a bad case, while other players were exhausted by halftime. The 49ers went through 20 bags of intravenous fluid before the game, and more between halves.

But the 49ers had their most prolific rushing game in nearly two years--and Washington (1-2) gained only 41 yards while going scoreless in the second half.

"When you've got so many guys down and out like we did, you've got to stick to a simple game plan," said Garrison Hearst, who rushed for 97 yards. "We did the easy stuff. Just run it straight ahead and beat them head-to-head."

"We were a sick team to start, and became a banged-up team," 49er Coach Steve Mariucci said. "This was one of the reasons I played it very conservatively and safely."

Though nobody on the 49ers (2-1) claimed to have thoughts of revenge, it was a satisfying victory over the team that pounded them, 37-7, in an exhibition game in Japan seven weeks ago.

Steve Spurrier used his first-stringers longer than San Francisco did in the exhibition game, but nothing helped the Washington coach in the rematch.

Spurrier again yanked quarterback Shane Matthews for Danny Wuerffel in the fourth quarter, but neither of his former Florida stars could get the Redskins going, and Wuerffel had a pass intercepted on the Redskins' final drive. Washington managed only 217 yards.

"It's the whole team--don't put it all on the quarterbacks," Spurrier said.

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