SAN FRANCISCO -- When the story of the 2009 Raiders is put to bed, the last 1:59 of the first half of a 21-20 preseason loss to the 49ers Saturday night at Candlestick Park will not even merit a footnote.

The Raiders failed to score, with Jeff Garcia throwing a pass slightly behind Johnnie Lee Higgins that went off his hands and was intercepted by the 49ers' Allen Rossum at the 9-yard line.

Until the turnover, it was vintage Garcia, finding Michael Bush for nine yards over the middle, scrambling for nine yards on the next play, finding Louis Murphy for 10 more to the 38-yard line.

On second-and-10, Bush ran for 10 yard and Garcia went to the line and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 48 seconds remaining.

Then came the interception.

``I saw a guy who was really in control that made a couple of nice plays, but that one ball got away from him on the high ball and it got tipped and intercepted,' Raiders coach Tom Cable said.'

True enough, but the problem wasn't the end result of the two-minute drill. It was the decision to allow Garcia, and not JaMarcus Russell, the chance to execute it.

Some familiar problems returned to the Raiders. Most alarmingly, the 49ers ran at will, whether it was against the first-team defense, the second team, or soon-to-be street free agents.

By game's end, the 49ers had racked up 275 yards on 47 carries even though their feature back, Frank Gore, carried two times for seven yards and took the rest of the night off.


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Rookie Glen Coffee rushed for 129 yards on 16 carries, Michael Robinson added 97 on 14 attempts, and Kory Sheets took the baton last and had 51 yards on 12 attempts.

All told, it enabled the 49ers to keep the ball for 38:44 to 21:16 and gave Raiders quarterbacks less time to operate.

The schedule said Russell would be gone by the middle of the second quarter, giving way to Garcia. The Raiders managed only one first down in Russell's first three series before they took a 7-3 lead in the second quarter.

Given good field position at the Oakland 40 after the 49ers failed on fourth-and-2, Russell continued to hit anyone but wide receivers, connecting with Zach Miller for 11 yards, Justin Fargas for 11 and Miller again for two more.

Then Johnnie Lee Higgins raced past Nate Clements and Russell arched what could have been a touchdown. Clements grabbed Higgins by the jersey rather than concede the score.

The 22-yard penalty to the 3-yard like looked like the smart move when penalties on Cornell Green (ineligible man downfield) and Samson Satele (holding) backed up Oakland with a third-and-21 at the 24-yard line.

It was at that moment when Russell showed what his arm is capable of, finding Louis Murphy alone in the right corner of the end zone with a 24-yard touchdown pass and a 7-3 lead.

With 8:45 left, Russell's day was done, because that's what the schedule said.

When the 49ers responded with an 80-yard drive, taking 6:46 off the clock, it presented a terrific opportunity to keep Russell in the game with the ball at the 40-yard line, two time outs left and 1:59 remaining.

It was a classic two-minute drive presented on a gift platter to a young quarterback who can make the occasional big play but still has problems putting several good plays together.

Cable's explanation for bypassing what could have been an excellent developmental sequence for the future of the franchise?

They do plenty of two-minute work in practice, and besides, it was Garcia's turn.

``The situation didn't matter to me,'' Cable said. ``I wanted to stick with what the plan was.''

Never mind that Garcia has run countless two-minute drills in regular-season games, and needs a preseason two-minute drive about as much as Albert Pujols needs a batting practice home run.

Barring injury, no matter what Garcia does against New Orleans and Seattle, the quarterback on Sept. 14 against the San Diego Chargers is going to be Russell.

If the Raiders are in a tight game against the Chargers with two minutes to go before halftime, it's going to be Russell's job to get them in position to score.

It's good to know he's had a lot of practice working against his own defense in two-minute, no-tackling situations. Maybe working against the 49ers defense wouldn't be a parallel for dealing with Shawne Merriman and Co., but it's a lot closer to live action than what he's seeing in Napa.

Whether Russell had success against the 49ers in the two-minute drill against the 49ers or not, it was a handful of plays to deposit into his bank of experience.

It was a chance to get better acquainted with Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had only two passes thrown his way and didn't have a catch.

The Raiders claim to have taken the training wheels off their passing offense this year, and at some point they'll need to pass the ball to win _ especially if they're unable to control the game with their own running game.

``Overall, we just want to have a legit passing game,'' Miller said.

The Raiders continue to work toward that end, but missed a chance late in the first half to see where they stand in two-minute drill with their still-developing starter.

They had a schedule to keep.

Staff writer Jerry McDonald can be reached by e-mail at jmcdonald@bayareanewsgroup.com.