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49ers Staley says offensive line struggles costly
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SANTA CLARA (AP) — San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley insists his strong comments after Sunday’s loss to the Rams were not intended to question the coaching staff but rather point out how poorly the offensive line performed.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was sacked eight times in a 13-10 loss that dropped the 49ers to 4-4, and it ended with Kaepernick losing a fumble at the goal line trying for the go-ahead touchdown.

“We have all the talent in the world. We’ve been doing some dumb stuff and they took advantage of it,” Staley said afterward. “Penalties, dumb blocks, dumb techniques, and dumb schemes.”

Staley said Wednesday there was no need to discuss his remarks with coach Jim Harbaugh, who addressed the team Tuesday. The veteran offensive lineman clarified what he meant postgame, too.

“It was reported that I was basically calling out other people,” Staley explained. “I was saying we all played bad. It was frustrating. When I said ‘dumb blocks’ and ‘dumb techniques,’ I was talking about us as an offensive line we were making bad blocks, not saying, ‘We are doing this because we are taught this.’ We were making dumb blocks. In that sense, what I was meaning to say is we all have a hand in this and we’re all responsible and all accountable. I stand by that statement.”

In fact, Kaepernick blamed himself for the costly fumble in the waning moments — not pointing fingers at rookie center Marcus Martin, who made his NFL debut starting in place of the injured Daniel Kilgore.

“The last one was my fault,” Kaepernick said, noting the O-line is back working hard. “Marcus did a great job, didn’t have a problem with the snaps all day.”

When asked about Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Steve Young weighing on what’s going wrong, Harbaugh said: “I really don’t comment on anything that’s coming from outside or flak. Keep that on the outside. It’s up to us, the men in the room. We have a challenge ahead of us.”

It doesn’t get easier the next two weeks, beginning with Sunday’s game at New Orleans and a trip to New York to face the Giants the following weekend.

For the offensive line to better protect Kaepernick, Staley said the unit must get back to basics and make adjustments in technique.

“We definitely have to stick together,” Staley said. “This loss is not on one person, one group. It’s a team loss, team game. We have to stick together and move forward, and we will do that. We have a close-knit locker room, a lot of high-character guys and a lot of good leadership.”

Running back Frank Gore, for one, still believes this team will get going in the right direction. San Francisco has reached three straight NFC championship games.

Some questioned the Niners not running the ball on third-and-1, but Gore defended offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

“We’re going to the playoffs ... we’re going to do it. We’ve got great coaches, great guys, we’re used to this. The last three years we’ve been spoiled,” Gore said. “We’ve got to look at ourselves. When you’re watching the film, it’s just not us, it’s not us at all.”

Notes: LB Patrick Willis, who missed his second straight game with a strained muscle in his left big toe, and LB Dan Skuta (ankle), weren’t on the field when practice began while WR Brandon Lloyd (hamstring) and CB Tramaine Brock (toe) were practicing.