NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 27, 2005) -- Steve McNair slipped away from a 49ers linebacker, spotted Chris Brown near the left sideline and threw the ball as he was being slammed to the ground.
Brown ran 41 yards for the touchdown. For a quarter, it was vintage McNair.
McNair finished 23 of 41 in his best game since Oct. 12, 2003, when he threw for 421 yards against Houston in the season he shared the MVP with Peyton Manning.
"Steve played amazing out there," Brown said. "I don't know how he found me because I thought he was sacked on that big play. It was a perfect pass."
"We gave up some explosive passes in the second half that hurt us, and an example, I guess, of what an experienced quarterback can do to an inexperienced secondary," Nolan said.
Ken Dorsey got his second straight start for the 49ers, and completed a pass for a two-point conversion following a 17-yard TD toss to Arnaz Battle with 1:15 left.
San Francisco recovered the ensuing onside kick. But with no timeouts left, the 49ers already were out of time before Vanden Bosch sacked Dorsey and forced the final turnover.
"We've come up short again," Nolan said.
"Sometimes coaches dream wild things up after midnight, and I think that was the case," Fisher said.
But San Francisco ended its first visit to Tennessee with a fourth straight loss after McNair took control. He picked the 49ers apart by completing five of his seven passes in the third quarter for 142 yards.
First, he found Brown on a short pass for a 41-yard TD and a 16-14 lead. On the next offensive play, McNair connected with rookie Roydell Williams down the right sideline on a 50-yard TD 79 seconds later.
Then McNair drove the Titans 68 yards before finding Erron Kinney on a 4-yard toss at 4:54 of the third for a 30-14 lead.
The game featured plenty of the mistakes that have doomed both teams this season.
Tennessee could have led 14-0 after the first quarter if not for a holding penalty that wiped out a 35-yard TD run by Brown. Then a 26-yard run on a trick play featuring Jones was erased by an illegal block in the back penalty.
Linebacker Keith Bulluck intercepted a pass and ran it to the San Francisco 7 late in the second only to see the Titans settle for Bironas' third field goal of the half and a 9-7 lead.
The 49ers had trouble as well. Jose Cortez, signed to replace the injured Joe Nedney, bounced a 34-yard field goal attempt off the left upright, and a holding penalty nullified a 75-yard TD run by Kevan Barlow.
Notes: It was McNair's 10th 300-yard passing game of his career and his 14th with three touchdowns. ... Brown caught a 57-yard pass in the first quarter that was the longest play this season and the team's longest reception since Justin McCareins caught a 73-yarder at Houston on Dec. 21, 2003. ... The 49ers now are 0-5 on the road this season.