SAN FRANCISCO

NO IS SUCH a negative word, and a fitting one for so many facets of the 49ers' 23-13, season-opening loss Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals. Without further adieu, it's time to, if you will, just say "no."

No victory meant the 49ers missed a shot to sit alone in first place in the NFC West. The season may be only one-sixteenth in, but that would have been a great morale boost for a franchise stuck in a rut since 2002.

No sense of anger hung in the air of the 49ers locker room afterward, which is a disappointing sign. Linebacker Patrick Willis said coach Mike Nolan preached "words of encouragement" in what was a "positive" postgame speech.

No one apparently told Nolan he should have shouted: "You overpaid morons just lost to the bleepin' Cardinals on opening day! At home! You guys on defense need to get off the bleepin' field, and you guys on offense must hold on to the ball!"

No, it wasn't the fault of their new quarterback, J.T. O'Sullivan. He, at times, moved an offense that was so motionless in 2007.

No 49er showed more flamboyance than Frank Gore on his 41-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The 49ers need more playmakers, though that's hardly breaking news.

No clear winner in debating which failed more, Nolan's defense or Mike Martz's offense. Will that become a weekly debate? No doubt.

No receptions for Isaac Bruce? Really? The Pro Football Hall of Fame-bound Isaac Bruce? The 49ers' starting flanker? The master of the Mike Martz offense?

No comment afterward from Bruce when approached for an interview. Also, no crowd chants of "Bruuuuce" during the game (though there were occasional bursts of "boooooos!"). No great explanation from Nolan on Bruce's bagel: "I can't answer that right now. It certainly wasn't by design. Some of it could have been by their game plan."

No fumbles were forced or recovered by the 49ers defense, and thus no turning point came from that unit when a takeaway was so desperately needed.

No interceptions from the 49ers defense against Kurt Warner, who had 100 passes intercepted (on top of committing 80 fumbles) entering his 10th year in the league.

No sacks came from new defensive lineman Justin Smith. But he did get in Warner's face to set up a third-down sack by Parys Harralson at the 49ers' 13-yard line in the third quarter.

No one could cover Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the second half. All eight of his receptions (for 82 yards) came after halftime.

No late comeback like last year's opener, when Alex Smith rallied the 49ers in the final three minutes for a 20-17 lead.

No one deserved to be happier in the 49ers' locker room than Alex Smith. Benched in favor of O'Sullivan and now battling another shoulder injury, Smith seems divorced from the 49ers, though he dutifully partook in the quarterbacks' sideline huddles and he hasn't badmouthed a franchise that's abandoning him.

No great explanation from Nolan on Smith's health status: "You've probably got more (information) than I've got." Wait, isn't Nolan still the head coach and voice of the franchise? Looks like the chain of communication has a kink in it, again.

No excuse for not getting the ball more to tight end Vernon Davis, who also expected a big day after he broke free for a 37-yard catch in the second quarter.

No nasty, postgame comments slipped off Davis' tongue, and take that as a positive sign of maturity. Davis, by the way, was the first to sprint off the field when the game ended.

No Cardinals assistant seemed happier walking off the field than linebackers coach Billy Davis, who was Nolan's scapegoat for the 2006 season after serving as the de facto defensive coordinator. (In related news, 2007 scapegoat Jim Hostler, last year's offensive coordinator, tasted victory Sunday as the Baltimore Ravens' quarterbacks coach.)

No zany plays or wild themes emerged from Martz's playcalling. When the 49ers ran up the middle on third-and-seven from the Cardinals' 16 in the fourth quarter, that conservative call looked too dang familiar. So did the ensuing result: The 49ers settled for a field goal.

No sign of Dwight Clark down field when O'Sullivan rolled right before heaving up a pass out of bounds on his first attempt of the game.

No 16-0 season for the 49ers. But 0-16 is still in play. It's not going to happen, but it sure is an ugly concept to consider so early in a season. And never say never.

Contact Cam Inman at cinman@bayareanewsgroup.com.