SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Jeff Garcia tried to disguise his shock as he moved under center. Two yards from the end zone, the Arizona Cardinals somehow had forgotten to cover Terrell Owens, standing all alone on the left side of the field.
“I was trying to look around to see where the cornerback was hiding,” Garcia said. “I just tried not to blow the throw, which is so easy in that type of situation.”
Garcia completed the gift-wrapped touchdown pass to Owens—and though the rest of the quarterback’s six touchdowns weren’t quite as easy, the 49ers threw quite a birthday party for Owens in their 50-14 victory on Sunday.
Owens caught seven passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns on his 30th birthday, and Garcia threw four TD passes and ran for two more scores. Kevan Barlow rushed for a career-best 154 yards and a touchdown as the 49ers (6-7) nursed their faint playoff hopes with their sixth win in seven games at Candlestick Park.
This one was almost embarrassingly easy, with Owens and Garcia leading the Niners to their highest-scoring performance since 1994 one week after a 44-6 loss to Baltimore.
“We did almost everything we set out to do in this game, but now the challenge is to put together a streak of games,” said safety Tony Parrish, who had an interception in his fifth straight game and a fumble recovery. “If we don’t, this is just a blowout, and it doesn’t matter.”
The sad-sack Cardinals (3-10), who beat San Francisco in overtime six weeks ago, lost their fifth straight. They fell behind 34-0 at halftime with equally pathetic efforts on offense and defense in their biggest loss ever to San Francisco.
“I don’t know what their situation was, but they didn’t come out with the same intensity that they had when we played them down there,” linebacker Julian Peterson said.
Backup quarterback Josh McCown threw his first two career TD passes for Arizona, which has lost all seven of its 2003 road games and 12 straight overall. Coach Dave McGinnis’ job security has never been more tenuous, and the Cardinals must finish the season against Carolina, Seattle and Minnesota—all likely playoff teams.
“It was a total domination of the 49ers’ offense over our defense,” McGinnis said. “We tried to play man-to-man, and we tried to blitz them. It was clear that we were not covering their receivers and they were moving at will. … When you don’t cover people, it’s going to look extremely ugly.”
Garcia, 19-of-28 for 252 yards, was outstanding in his second game back from a three-game injury absence. He tied his career-high for touchdown passes while accounting for six total TDs for the first time.
San Francisco needed just five plays to move 73 yards on its opening drive, scoring on Garcia’s 3-yard scramble. Later in the quarter, Owens performed some sort of mime act in celebration of a 1-yard scoring catch.
Jeff Blake couldn’t complete a pass until early in the second quarter, and Peterson stripped Blake’s second completion away from rookie Anquan Boldin moments later. After Parrish recovered, Garcia hit Wilson with a 27-yard TD pass.
Boldin was a bright spot again for the Cardinals with nine catches for 123 yards and a TD. He also made an unbelievable spinning, one-handed catch late in the first half.
The 49ers got a safety early in the third quarter when McCown hit offensive tackle L.J. Shelton in the head with a lateral while the quarterback was being tackled in the end zone. McCown hit James Hodgins and Boldin for late scores— while Owens signed autographs on the San Francisco sideline.
“Wow, that was bad,” McCown said. “Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to get to the lowest point in order to reach the highest in the future. That(safety) may have been one of the worst plays in my career.”
Raiders LB Bill Romanowski, on injured reserve after a series of concussions, attended the game in the Fox broadcast booth while Oakland lost at Pittsburgh. … Emmitt Smith rushed four times for 15 yards in his second game back from a broken shoulder blade. … San Francisco TE Jed Weaver had fourcatches for a career-best 76 yards.