It might be hard to find bright spots following such a demoralizing loss, one that puts the 49ers five games behind Arizona in the NFC West with seven games to play. But if you squint really hard, they're there. To wit:
Young guns. Where was Jason Hill last year when the 49ers needed an offensive spark? The second-year player looked incredible Monday, hauling in several tough catches along the sideline. (One sideline grab was wrongly ruled incomplete by the inept officiating crew). Hill finished with 84 yards while rookie Josh Morgan had 54 yards, including a 31-yard TD. Morgan is still raw, but the point is that he is playing - as is Chilo Rachal and Kentwan Balmer and Dominique Zeigler. One difference between Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary seems to be the latter's willingness to lean on rookies and young players, which is a must in the modern NFL.
Hill of a job. Ok, Shaun Hill's three second-half turnovers were killers. But he showed better-than-expected arm strength, especially on out patterns and most important of all, he had a never-say-die attitude, which manifest itself on his helmet-less run for a first down. Hill also was one of two players - Jonas Jennings was the other - calming down Vernon Davis on the sideline following the tight end's TD/illegal celebration episode.
Miked up on Monday night. One of the most puzzling things about Singletary's debut against Seattle was how flatly the 49ers played. That was not an issue Monday night. From the opening kickoff, the 49ers were as keyed up as they've been since 2002. They should have left the desert with an emotional win. Instead, they'll be challenged by a punch-in-the-gut loss. If they need a model for how to respond, look no farther than the Cardinals, who lost their own Monday night heartbreaker two years ago and fell to the 49ers on a freak overtime play last year. Good teams bounce back ...
-- Matt Barrows