Around the NFC West: 49ers can't finish

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers had a hard time managing the clock late in the game. They wanted to spike the ball on first down, but confusion over personnel changes complicated matters.

Also from Crumpacker: Niners general manager Scot McCloughan talks about possibly bringing back Alex Smith in 2009. Smith's latest surgery went well.

More from Crumpacker: A report card with high marks for the 49ers' special teams.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle gives a pass to interim 49ers coach Mike Singletary for the late confusion, blaming offensive coordinator Mike Martz instead.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers a transcript from Singletary's postgame news conference. "You have to finish, and we did not," Singletary said.

Also from Maiocco: All was not lost during this defeat. "This is the kind of game that will do more to prove Singletary as a head coach than any victory would've done," he writes.

More from Maiocco: A notebook with items on Allen Rossum, Vernon Davis, the young receivers and two Arizona touchdowns wiped out by penalties.

Still more from Maiocco: A report card with a "B" grade for coaching.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee channels Dennis Green in trying to make sense of the 49ers' devastating defeat. He also thought the officials gave the Cardinals extra time to get set on defense before the final play.

Also from Barrows: A notebook with items on Chilo Rachal, replay challenges and the 49ers' use of the Wildcat offense.

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News blames Martz for the final sequence that doomed the 49ers to a heartbreaking defeat.

Monte Poole of the Bay Area News Group saw encouraging signs in the 49ers' defeat. "This was the kind of game that helps develop the soul of a team in search of one," Poole writes.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers gained 20 yards on a running play the first time they put Rachal in the game.

Also from Brown: A report card with a C-minus grade for quarterback Shaun Hill.