George Seifert's knack for winning in San Francisco hasn't deserted him now that he is coaching the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina scored 24 second-quarter points and hung on to beat the 49ers, 31-29, today, stopping San Francisco's club-record 19-game home winning streak and giving Seifert the win in his first game against the team that unceremoniously dumped him 2 1/2 years ago.
"It was an important, exciting win for Carolina," Seifert said. "I've got close ties with players and coaches, and I've won and lost with guys over there. But with the way this game goes, you can be on another planet and not realize where you are. I'm about as spent as I've ever been."
The Panthers withstood two 49ers' defensive scores, including Mark McMillian's 41-yard return off Tshimanga Biakabutuka's fourth-quarter fumble. Carolina foiled the potential tying two-point conversion by pressuring Jeff Garcia into an incompletion after he threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Rice with 1 minute 28 seconds left.
"It's always strange when you see a coach like George Seifert on the other sideline, but somehow you try to stay focused," Rice said. "After the game, I wanted to go congratulate him because we had some great times together, and I wish him the best."
It was San Francisco's first loss at home in 18 games under Coach Steve Mariucci, who was brought in to replace Seifert before the 1997 season even though Seifert won two Super Bowls in eight years as 49ers coach.
Steve Beuerlein threw for four touchdowns, including seven- and 33-yard strikes to Patrick Jeffers. Wesley Walls caught a 25-yard touchdown, Muhsin Muhammad had a 22-yard scoring catch and John Kasay kicked a 19-yard field goal.
Seifert's 100th regular season victory came in San Francisco's first home loss since the Seifert-coached 49ers lost 30-24 to the Panthers on Dec. 8, 1996.
"I don't care what you say. It was not just another game," said Walls, who played for Seifert in San Francisco and now Carolina.
The 49ers (3-3) played their third straight game without quarterback Steve Young, still bothered by the effects of his fourth concussion in three years.