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SANTA CLARA — 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 better 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, who let Connor Barwin blow by him on one sack, wouldn't say his unit is behind because of the lockout and missed minicamps and organized team activities, either.

"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 diminished 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,"Fangio said. "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 wWe may never get to the whole package this year because of that."


Frank Gore is encouraged that progress might be made toward the new contract he wants.

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was scheduled to meet Monday with the team, though Gore wasn't sure when the process would begin.

The two-time Pro Bowl running back has repeatedly said he would like a new, long-term commitment from the team before the Sept. 11 season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

"He's here. I'm happy about that," Gore said about Rosenhaus. "It may pick up. That's a positive. I hope I'll get a fair deal. I want to be a 49er for my career," Gore said. "I love it here. I love my teammates. I like the new coaching staff. I can see that we're going to get things together here.Having a football coach like Jim Harbaugh and his style of doing what they're doing and knowing what they want from each and every player, and that's being a football player."

The 28-year-old Gore, who missed the final five games last season with a broken right hip, said it's "a step" in the right direction that Rosenhaus and Niners executives are meeting face to face.

"I just want to get it done, man. Hopefully both sides will come to a fair deal and I can be here and get it out of my head and try to get (going on) these 16 weeks and move on and win the West," Gore said. "It's best for me to let the fans know I want to be here. It's not me. It comes down to the organization and the team."

Both general manager Trent Baalke and team president Jed York have said they would like to make Gore a "49er for life," while Harbaugh has made similar statements.

Gore, who held out for the first four days of training camp, missed the last five games of 2010 after sustaining a hip injury at Arizona on Nov. 29. He would like a contract comparable to the $43 million, ($21 million guaranteed) five-year deal running back DeAngelo Williams recently received from the Carolina Panthers.


The 49ers notified the NFL on Monday that wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught a couple dozen passes during warm-ups while still on the physically unable to perform list.

Team spokesman Bob Lange said the club immediately reported the "oversight" to the league office after it happened Monday afternoon. It's unclear whether the Niners will be penalized.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was investigating the situation.

Crabtree, the 10th overall draft pick in 2009 out of Texas Tech, has missed his third straight preseason while nursing a left foot injury.

"The 49ers immediately notified the league office regarding the oversight that occurred earlier today when Michael Crabtree caught passes during warmups," Lange said.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said Sunday he hopes to have the wideout back in an official capacity this week, though Crabtree wasn't in uniform when he caught throws from Alex Smith at the start of practice before general manager Trent Baalke intervened and had Crabtree stop participating and then leave the area.

"We are looking into it. We appreciate Trent Baalke contacting our office to report what happened," Aiello said in an e-mail. "Our understanding is that it occurred during warmups and that Michael Crabtree did not participate in practice."

Crabtree hurt his foot during workouts led by quarterback Smith in June during the lockout. He missed the 2010 preseason with a neck injury a year after a 71-day contract stalemate as a rookie.

He hasn't talked to reporters so far this preseason.

The 23-year-old Crabtree, who has long had the reputation of being a diva, had 55 catches for 741 yards and six touchdowns last year during San Francisco's 6-10 season.

He was angrily confronted by tight end Vernon Davis during an early September practice last year and then-coach Mike Singletary had to step between them.


CB Shawntae Spencer, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, was in shoulder pads and on the field.

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