49ers trying to keep even keel amid struggles

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula likened a recent team meeting to an ''Italian dining room table.''

Tomsula told San Francisco-based radio station KNBR Tuesday that he held an animated meeting two days after a 17-3 home loss to the Green Bay Packers, which put his team at 1-3.

The first-year head coach said it began as his meeting with the players, before he left the locker room and let players speak among themselves.

''I did have a heated meeting. That happens in this business,'' Tomsula told the station. ''When you're 2-5, that starts to become headlines. It was a very productive meeting. It was a meeting where it was truthful and dealt with facts and reality.

''.The biggest thing I said to them, `Guys, it's like an Italian dining room table.' Everybody's sitting around the table, things get heated, dishes get broke and people leave. But everybody's got to come back to the table to eat.''

The 49ers travel to St. Louis to take on the surging Rams on Sunday and will be trying to avoid falling to 2-6 for the first time since 2010.

''I don't want to overreact,'' third-year safety Eric Reid said. ''Our record, yeah we're 2-5, but we don't have to reinvent the wheel here. I don't think anybody needs to start a yelling fest, pointing fingers at anybody. That's what we don't need.''

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is off to the worst start of his career, throwing six touchdown passes and five interceptions in seven games. San Francisco's offense ranks last in both points and yardage, leading to chatter about Kaepernick getting benched in favor of backup Blaine Gabbert.

Tomsula has indicated that move isn't slated to come any time soon.

''(Kaepernick) is one of the hardest workers I've been around, especially in the weight room,'' running back Reggie Bush said. ''He's young and he still has, I think, a long career left in this game.''

Bush, who has been in and out of the lineup with a strained left calf, is in his 10th season in the NFL, including time spent on a championship team in New Orleans in 2009 before playing on losing teams in Miami and Detroit.

''It's easy to, I think, to dig up stories and say things when your team's not playing well,'' Bush said. ''I think the most important thing we can do is focus on us, block out everything outside, and try to go win this next football game.''

The 49ers going forward will have to deal with the loss of veteran strong safety Antoine Bethea, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve Friday after leaving Thursday's 20-3 loss to the Seahawks in the second quarter.

San Francisco used the opening on the roster to reinstate receiver Jerome Simpson, who was suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the NFL's substances-abuse policy.

Rookie safety Jaquiski Tartt is likely to be inserted into the starting lineup to replace Bethea. Tartt has 20 tackles after getting drafted in the second round out of Samford.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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