Well, it's not "just preseason" anymore. The problems that plagued the Arizona Cardinals in the four games that didn't count spilled over to the regular-season opener.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt recounted the woes on Monday after watching video of the 20-16 home loss to San Francisco _ penalties, dropped passes, errant throws, a dropped interception.
Particularly vexing was the problem the Arizona offensive line had protecting Kurt Warner, something the Cardinals did so well in their playoff run last season. Warner was sacked three times and pressured many more.
"That is an area we will clean up," Whisenhunt said. "When you look at the tape, it is more about fundamentals than it is about getting beat physically. We didn't get our hands up and we didn't take the right set."
This is the same offensive line, to a man, that started all 20 games for the Cardinals a year ago.
"Anytime we drop back and we're protecting, if there's one breakdown here or there it's going to look like it's all across the board," left guard Reggie Wells said.
The 49ers did some of the damage with the blitz but even got pressure on Warner at times with a four-man rush, allowing San Francisco to drop seven back on defense and double-team Larry Fitzgerald.
"They have some guys that can go," Wells said of the 49ers defensive line. "They're not over there for no reason. (Protection) is something we pride ourselves on doing as a unit, but they were able to get there at key moments. That's something that we need to right."
As often as the Cardinals pass, the line knows its job is crucial.
"We have to make sure that we're sound," Wells said, "and there were times yesterday where we probably weren't as sound as we would like to be."
Whisenhunt was most disturbed by Arizona's 12 penalties for 82 yards, particularly consecutive flags the Cardinals drew late in the game.
Arizona's defense pinned San Francisco at its own 1, and after the punt, the Cardinals had a first down at the 49ers 39. It was prime position for a late game-winning score.
"We got the ball back and got it to the 39-yard line. That is what you want," Whisenhunt said. "That is how you win games in the NFL."
Not on this day.
First, there was a false start on tight end Stephen Spach pushing the ball back five yards to the 44. Then, tackle Mike Gandy was called for holding, moving it all the way to the Cardinals 46, where it was first-and-25.
Warner completed a pair of passes to make it third-and-five at the 49ers 33. But the next pass was incomplete, then on fourth down Warner was leveled by Justin Smith as he threw, and the ball fell harmlessly to the ground.
"If we are not facing first-and-25 there, I have no doubts that we are going to move the ball down there and score," Whisenhunt said.
There was some dispute on the holding call against Gandy.
"Sometimes there's a hold and I get called and sometimes there's not," he said. "It wasn't exactly a great time for me to make a mistake."
But was it a mistake if he really didn't hold?
"If they call it," Gandy said, "it's a mistake."
The Cardinals' receiver rotation was disrupted when wide receiver Steve Breaston, who had practiced all week and was expected to play, showed up with a swollen right knee and watched in street clothes. Anquan Boldin, who had barely practiced all week with a sore hamstring, decided he could go, but was far from full strength.
That often pushed Jerheme Urban to the No. 2 receiver slot and, with Early Doucet out with fractured ribs, little-used Lance Long found himself in the game, especially in four wide-receiver sets.
The personnel shifts, as well as the offensive line breakdowns, contributed to Warner's inconsistency.
"He didn't seem quite settled yesterday," Whisenhunt said. "Some of that was a function of having receivers in different spots, which is something we have talked about. You have to trust the guys that are in there."
Warner got a "stinger" in his right arm in the waning seconds of the first half, an injury that left his throwing hand numb when the Cardinals had one final play from scrimmage at the San Francisco 11. Warner overthrew Fitzgerald in the end zone.
"I have no doubt it was because he was still feeling some numbness in his fingers," Whisenhunt said.
Counting the preseason and the Super Bowl, the Cardinals have lost six in a row heading into Sunday's game at Jacksonville.