Originally created 12/01/99

49ers struggle with quarterbacks



SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- When Joe Montana began to break down, the San Francisco 49ers had Steve Young to maintain exceptional quarterback play.

They have not been as fortunate in finding a replacement for the injured Young, and they're paying for it with their worst season since 1982.

Jeff Garcia and Steve Stenstrom, both untested and inexperienced, have gone 1-7 since replacing Young, who's not expected to play again this season because of a head blow Sept. 27 that caused his fourth concussion in three years.

And San Francisco's offense, ranked No. 1 in the league last season behind two-time league MVP Young, has ground to a halt. Monday night's 20-3 loss to Green Bay marked the seventh straight defeat for the 49ers (3-8) and the third time in four games they failed to score a touchdown.

San Francisco, which scored 505 points during its Super Bowl-winning season in 1994, has just 166 so far this season, the fourth-lowest output in the league.

Even the 49ers defense has more touchdowns (4) than the offense (3) over the course of the skid, the club's longest since losing eight in a row in 1980. Monday night's loss ensured San Francisco will finish with its first non-winning campaign since strike-shortened 1982, when it went 3-6 one year after winning the Super Bowl.

"You can't just lay it on the quarterback," coach Steve Mariucci said Tuesday. "Obviously, that's the guy that sticks out like a sore thumb, because he's the passer. We need to be more productive at that position and we have been used to great production at that position. We're working tirelessly to make it better."

The 49ers had Ty Detmer as Young's backup last season, but traded him to Cleveland as part of a salary cap purge in the offseason.

Stenstrom, signed as a free agent after starting six games for Chicago last season, is 1-9 lifetime as a starter and 0-3 since taking over for an ineffective Garcia.

Garcia was benched after completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes for three straight games.

Against the Packers, Stenstrom completed 19 of 35 passes for 195 yards, but had an end zone interception. He missed his best chance to throw his first touchdown pass of the season when he bounced a throw to wide-open Fred Beasley on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the late going.

TAYLOR CASE: Hall of Fameer Lawrence Taylor dropped his argument of entrapment and pleaded no contest Tuesday to drug charges in Clearwater, Fla.

Circuit Judge Lauren Laughlin withheld a finding of guilt, but said she was prepared to sentence Taylor to 18 months' probation. That would mean he would have no criminal record in this case if he successfully completes probation.

She set sentencing for Feb. 1, and ordered Taylor to pay about $1,250 court costs and the cost of the police investigation.