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Steve Mariucci tried to make light of the questions. The San Francisco 49ers coach ran his hands through his hair, gave a nervous giggle and joked that everyone is getting older, some faster than others.

It was harder to laugh off the source of Monday's questions because it's apparent the 49ers not only are showing their age but their offense showed practically nothing in a disastrous opener.

San Francisco began the year Sunday with a 41-3 loss at Jacksonville, its worst regular-season defeat since a 59-14 drubbing by Dallas in 1980.

On a team with a powerful and proud offensive legacy, what made the loss even more disturbing was the total breakdown in production and the frazzled play of Steve Young and Jerry Rice, the team's best, albeit, oldest stars.

So when Mariucci was asked about the play of his 38-year-old quarterback, he reacted defensively.

"He's not 38 till October," Mariucci said. And he added he has faith that the play of Young, Rice and everyone else on the team will get better.

"I've got to," Mariucci said.

Against Jacksonville, Young turned in his worst performance since becoming San Francisco's starter nine years ago. He finished 9 of 26 with no touchdowns, two interceptions and two sacks.

Favre's tears were happy ones

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre said he cried tears of joy, not pain.

The quarterback wept on the podium Sunday at a news conference after engineering the electric game-winning drive in Green Bay's come-from-behind 28-24 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

Some assumed Favre was lamenting a hand injury that might cost him a chance at the league's consecutive start streak for a quarterback. After all, he nearly asked to come out of the game because of the pain, which began when he hit his hand on a helmet in the third quarter.

But Favre, with a thick bandage on his throwing hand and a smile on his face, said Monday that an emotional catharsis was what brought tears to his eyes. The final drive, the 14th game-winner of Favre's career, was accomplished in exactly 100 seconds and covered 82 yards -- all with no timeouts.

"I'm emotional anyway," said Favre, who is likely to play Sunday against Detroit.

Browns likely to turn to Couch

BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns had this wonderful game plan in place for educating Tim Couch.

They wanted to bring him along slowly, grooming the young quarterback as Ty Detmer's understudy until Couch was ready to take over as Cleveland's starter.

But Cleveland's humbling and humiliating 43-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on national TV in their long-awaited NFL return was apparently enough to make the expansion Browns change their minds.

At practice Monday, coach Chris Palmer had Couch behind center with the Browns' first-team offense.

Chandler status unknown

SUWANEE, Ga. -- Chris Chandler hobbled into work Monday, not knowing if he would have to call in sick a week later.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback, plagued by injuries throughout his career, severely strained his right hamstring Sunday in the season-opening 17-14 loss to Minnesota.

Coach Dan Reeves listed Chandler as doubtful for next Monday night's game against Dallas.

Brown back after neck scare

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Chad Brown, who left the field in an ambulance with a neck injury in Seattle's opener, may be able to play in the Seahawks' second game in Chicago.

Brown ran with his teammates on Monday and coach Mike Holmgren sounded optimistic about having his Pro Bowl linebacker available for the Bears' game Sunday.

"There's a chance he can play this week," Holmgren said. "Fortunately, he's going to be OK."

Brown tore a ligament in his neck when his helmet collided with teammate Phillip Daniels' hip in a pileup late in the first half Sunday.

Around the league

New Orleans Saints rookie Ricky Williams is listed questionable for Sunday's game at San Francisco after X-rays showed Williams sprained his left ankle in Sunday's 19-10 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Rookie cornerback Charles Fisher tore three ligaments in his left knee during the Cincinnati Bengals' season-opening 36-35 loss at Tennessee and is out for the season.

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