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Scenes from Candlestick Park: Mike Williams' sophomore slump... LeGarrette Blount, Gerald McCoy leave with injuries... Frank Gore gashes Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense

McCoy leaves after injury

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy will be examined today in Tampa after suffering a possible serious left ankle injury against the 49ers. The early diagnosis was that McCoy did not suffer a broken bone but rather a badly sprained ankle.

While engaged with a defender in the first quarter, another player fell on the back of McCoy's leg. McCoy then fell while his leg was trapped under a mass of bodies.

McCoy's loss was significant and presumably played a role in 49ers RB Frank Gore breaking out with a 125-yard performance on 20 carries.

McCoy returned to the sideline on crutches and had a walking boot on his foot, but team officials did not specify the extent of his injury. An MRI exam is expected to be performed today.

If the 2010 third overall draft choice misses an extended period, "We would lose a leader. He brings a lot of energy," NT Brian Price said. "But I have a lot of faith that he'll be back. That's our guy. We're counting on him."

McCoy missed the final four games of last season with a torn biceps and was not fully recovered until late summer.

Coach Raheem Morris didn't obsess over what would be a significant loss. "Whoever's healthy will play," he said.

Another flag day

Another game, another alarming number of penalties for the Bucs.

A week after shaking off 14 penalties in a win over the Colts, the Bucs committed nine penalties for 96 yards against the 49ers, continuing a trend that is becoming difficult to overcome.

And the penalties ran the gamut, from an unsportsmanlike conduct call on coach Raheem Morris for his run-in with an official to a 14-yard penalty on LB Dekoda Watson for using an opponent for leverage in trying to block a field-goal attempt.

Many of the penalties are typical of those young teams make.

"We are young, and that's something that we have to correct," Morris said. "That's something that we have to correct, and that's something that we have to get better at, period."

Captain C Jeff Faine put it in more demonstrative terms.

"If we do the same thing and make the same mistakes we made (Sunday), next week we'll have the same result," he said. "You just can't do that in the NFL. You can't come into an environment like this where (the 49ers) are playing good football, believing in their team, believing in themselves, and continue to make the same mistakes and continue to shoot yourselves in the foot. If you do, when you play against a good team, this is going to happen every single time."

Bruising Blount suffers a blow

Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount's unspecified left leg injury sustained on a hit from 49ers S Dashon Goldson sidelined him for much of the second half.

Asked whether Blount, left, could have returned, coach Raheem Morris said, "I just listen to what my doctors tell me. I know he didn't come back. He was icing down. Healthy men have to play. That was Kregg Lumpkin and Allen Bradford when we pulled (Earnest Graham) out of there."

Graham is the next back off the bench, and he finished the third quarter before giving way to Lumpkin and Bradford.

Asked after the game about his injury, Blount declined to comment.

Bucs run down

The Bucs knew the task would be difficult. The 49ers recently gave RB Frank Gore a three-year contract extension worth $21 million because he's one of the game's finest running backs. He proved as much against the Bucs, efficiently running through the defense for 125 yards on 20 carries, averaging 6.3 yards. The Bucs' effort in tackling Gore and in taking on waves of blockers was poor. And that was compounded by Gore making savvy reads, cutting back several runs that turned into long gains. "I would say it was him making some good reads and being a really good runner, but at the same time, I think it was a combination," MLB Mason Foster said. "We really helped him out. They had a good offensive line and a good running game. And with guys like that, it's tough to stop them when they get rolling. We have to do a better job (tackling)." Gore took advantage of wide cutback lanes in the Bucs defensive front. After spending the offseason recovering from a season-ending hip fracture sustained in November, Gore averaged just 49.3 yards in the season's first three games. He has run for a combined 252 in the two games since. "I thought he was seeing things really well," first-year 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I thought he was seeing holes. He was planting very well; he was making the shallow cuts. He had his burst back. He looked like Frank."

Small talk has drawn a big fine

After concluding an investigation that included the examination of phone records, the NFL fined the Bucs $250,000 for coach Raheem Morris' decision to contact players during the lockout, according to multiple media reports Sunday.

News of Morris' illegal contact with players surfaced Sept. 11 in a report on CBS by Charley Casserly. A team source said Morris had telephone conversations with players on seven occasions, three of them less than a minute including one with TE Kellen Winslow after the birth of his child and one between Morris and former LB Niko Koutouvides, who was a free agent and no longer with the team.

The day after reports surfaced, Morris admitted to contacting Winslow and CB Aqib Talib when Talib was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon in March.

Morris said his phone records were checked to establish whether violations had taken place. The league was explicit in warning teams and coaches they would be fined if there was contact with players during the lockout.

The Bucs had no comment.

Mike Williams'struggles continue

Bucs WR Mike Williams didn't make excuses or try to deflect blame. He said he should've made the third-quarter play on which he was leveled by 49ers S Dashon Goldson and fumbled.

"I always hold myself to a high standard," Williams said. "I'm supposed to come down with that catch. It was a hard hit, but I should've come down with it. I just didn't. I expected to."

But in the larger context, Williams hasn't gotten off to nearly as hot a start as he did last season, when he led all rookie receivers in catches and yards.

And he has had his share of arguable drops lately on passes that he seemed to come up with last season.

There was one such play Sunday, but Williams said a defender got a hand on the ball.

"It got to my hands, but he knocked it down," Williams said.

Williams, settling for short, underneath routes that seemed to be available, finished with four catches for 28 yards. "Basically I want to help my team win," he said. "If it's blocking more, catching short passes. Whatever I can do to help my team win more is what I'm going to do."

Tough day for a sub

Bucs strongside LB Dekoda Watson made his third career start in place of LB Quincy Black, and it was admittedly not pretty. Watson was partially to blame for the opening score, a 26-yard touchdown pass from 49ers QB Alex Smith to TE Delanie Walker. Later, Watson was guilty of pass interference in the end zone after allowing TE Vernon Davis to run by him. That infraction put the ball at the 1-yard line, with RB Frank Gore punching it in two plays later. Watson was the Bucs' second leading tackler, with seven stops, but he was far from happy with his performance.

"On that touchdown, all I had to do was hold my feet," Watson said. "I needed to be better with my feet so I wouldn't get crossed up. That's something I know. But something that small can cost you a big touchdown. You have to be on point in everything that you do."

Watson has proved to be effective as a situational pass rusher, but when playing for Black, he is charged with playing in coverage — not his strength. Watson said he should have located the football on the second-quarter play on which he was flagged for interference. Instead, Watson face-guarded, making contact with Davis' facemask and preventing him from having a chance to make the play.

"It's the small things that I need to improve," Watson said. "Those things are usually the difference. I have to contribute a lot more than I did this week. I'm not afraid to admit that. I'm not afraid to admit my faults. I'm a man about it. It's a team game, and I'm going to be ready to go next week."

Scenes from Candlestick Park: Mike Williams' sophomore slump... LeGarrette Blount, Gerald McCoy leave with injuries... Frank Gore gashes Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense 10/09/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 9, 2011 11:29pm]
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