Letdown? More like a beatdown in 49ers' loss

894353.jpg

Letdown? More like a beatdown in 49ers' loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- After season-opening victories over NFC playoff teams from a year ago, the 49ers had risen to the top of some NFL power rankings.The Minnesota Vikings did not figure to offer much of a challenge on Sunday -- even in a location where the 49ers have not recorded a victory since 1992.But the Vikings thoroughly out-performed the 49ers, 24-13, on Sunday in every phase.
Is it possible the 49ers, who defeated the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions in the first two games, overlooked a team that went 3-13 last season and was coming off a loss to the Indianapolis Colts?"I thought we were ready to play," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said when asked if the team came out flat. "We didn't get the lead, if that's what you're referring to. That's obvious. But there are multiple things that always determine the outcome of a football game. And we had opportunities. We just didn't get it done."The Vikings seized control of the game after the 49ers won the toss and elected to defer. Minnesota received the kickoff and completed a 16-play, 82-yard touchdown drive. The Vikings never trailed.RELATED: Maiocco's Instant Replay: Vikings 24, 49ers 13
Some of Harbaugh's players believed the 49ers were flat in the 10 a.m. (PT) kickoff.
"We just came out a little flat, and weren't able to get a stop," 49ers defensive end Justin Smith said. "Hats off to them. They came out with a good game plan and moved the ball on us. We just need to tighten up."Said linebacker NaVorro Bowman, "They fed off the energy of the crowd. They took advantage of the home field. They just called the right plays at the right time, and made some plays for their team."You can't think that the game is just going to be given to you. Especially when you guys (media) are hyping us up, saying that we're that good. Everyone is trying to knock us off. You just to be prepared for it every single game."Safety Donte Whitner said he felt as if the team was prepared to play Sunday, but he admitted the 49ers did not match the energy level of the Vikings."I would say our energy level is where it normally is, but I wouldn't say that we weren't ready," Whitner said. "We were prepared. We prepared like crazy all week. We're going to continue to prepare like that. We just have to take that and put it on the football field."We were ready. The coaching staff had us prepared. Now, we just have to go out there and when we get to Ohio, make sure we're ready to practice, change our mistakes and come out and play 49er football. We'll be all right."The 49ers will practice this week in Youngstown, Ohio, and travel just one time zone for next Sunday's game against the New York Jets.
"They did come out with a different attitude," 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said of the Vikings. "They came out to play. They came out to win. You know they got the 'W.' All we can do at the moment is just respect that, the fact that they won, and get back into the office and get better."RELATED: Injury Report: Willis, Sopoaga fine
The 49ers, as one of the top teams in the league, might have a target on their backs, but quarterback Alex Smith said he does not feel as if the opposition is better-prepared to face the 49ers now."There are only 16 games in a season, so every game is huge," Smith said. "Yeah, maybe it's a bigger challenge when a so-called 'good team' comes in. But every game is a challenge."The Vikings had a strong plan of attack to face the 49ers. But former 49ers head coach and current Vikings linebackers coach Mike Singletary said he did not take a more active role in game-planning against his former team."No more insight than any other team," Singletary said. "I think there's so much information floating around, anybody can get the information they need."I think more than anything else, I was just very, very pleased to see our guys respond to the challenge of playing San Francisco. They are playing very well right now. We are coming off a loss last week, and we bounced back and really showed a lot of character and I'm very excited about that."The Vikings stood toe-to-toe and took down a team considered one of the top teams in the NFL. Justin Smith, for one, said he was not surprised that the Vikings posed such a challenge."It's the NFL," he said. "You can't just walk out there and expect to win and for them not to run the ball or throw the ball on you. You have to be on top of your game and make sure you have no mental errors across the board. We just didn't get that done today."

49ers: Solomon Thomas capable of playing anywhere on D-line

49ers: Solomon Thomas capable of playing anywhere on D-line

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected defensive linemen with their top picks in the final two drafts under general manager Trent Baalke.

The 49ers fired Baalke at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season, and new general manager John Lynch stepped into a tear-down project.

That complete rebuild began Thursday evening with Lynch’s selection of another defensive lineman. The 49ers traded back one spot and selected Solomon Thomas of Stanford with the No. 3 overall pick.

“We see a special football player, disruptive football player, who has tremendous versatility,” Lynch said. “I think he fits in with the current group that we have because he’s a little different than the guys we have. And when I think of Solomon, I think of speed and quickness and disruption.”

The 49ers expect to play more of an aggressive, attacking style of defense under first-year coordinator Robert Saleh. Perhaps, the team’s biggest need is at the “Leo” position, the weak side end that is considered more of a pass-rusher.

Thomas appears better-suited at the other end or at a defensive tackle position, but the 49ers are keeping an open mind about using him at nearly every spot along the defensive line in the team’s new 4-3 scheme.

“There are four defensive linemen and what’s intriguing about Solomon is he has the ability to play all four of them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s what makes him so unique. That’s why I think John says he’s a little bit different than some of the guys we have, because you can move him around. He has the quickness and speed to play on the outside. He has enough sides to play on the inside, so you don’t want to put him in one spot.

“We don’t think he has to be one specific role. Obviously, he is a defensive lineman, but there’s four spots he can play at and I think that’s going to depend on down and distance, whether we’re expecting run, whether we’re expecting pass and the type of personnel we’re going against.”

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers began Thursday with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

When his first day as 49ers general manager reached its conclusion, John Lynch had selected two of the three top players on his draft board and picked up additional third-round picks for this year and next year.

After Myles Garrett, the 49ers’ top-rated prospect, was the Cleveland Browns’ selection at No. 1 overall, the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears. The 49ers still got their No. 2-rated prospect, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

The 49ers started making calls to teams with selections in the teens, according to coach Kyle Shanahan, to inquire about trading up for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. The 49ers finally worked out a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to move up three spots to No. 31.

The 49ers selected Foster one spot ahead of the New Orleans Saints, who were apparently ready to select Foster with the No. 32 pick.

Said Lynch, "Reuben thought that because we were at 34, we made a trade at the end with Seattle and when I was talking to him, he said, ‘Coach, New Orleans is taking me.' And I said, ‘No, we’re taking you.’ It was hard because it happened late in the process and so, he was really excited when he found out that we had pulled off that trade and we were certainly very excited.”

And all the 49ers gave up to make the necessary move was a fourth-round pick acquired from the Bears earlier in the day.

The 49ers got everything the could have ever wanted from Day 1 of the draft.

“In terms of how we rated them, we got two of our top three players,” Lynch said. “We’re thrilled. We’re ecstatic. I think these guys have traits that encompass what we want to be about as a football organization.”

Lynch said he began speaking with Bears general manager Ryan Pace more than a week ago. Because the 49ers had picks scheduled next to the Bears in every round, Pace suggested to Lynch that the two teams should be willing to work with each other throughout the draft.

The 49ers had other offers for the No. 2 pick, Lynch said. A source told NBC Sports Bay Area just prior to the start of the draft that the 49ers had fielded three solid offers.

The team’s chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe worked out the details to finalize the trade with the Bears.

The 49ers did not know which player the Bears were targeting at No. 2, but Shanahan voiced his opinion while the trade was going down.

“This guy is a pretty bright,” Lynch said of Shanahan. “He said, ‘That’s not for a defensive lineman. That’s for a quarterback.’ And he was right.”

The Bears made the trade to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick. In order for the Bears to trade up one spot, they delivered the 49ers a third-round pick (No. 67), a fourth-round pick (No. 111) and a third-round pick next year.

Jacksonville executive Tom Coughlin, whose team held the No. 4 pick, watched and admired the 49ers' move from afar. 

"To get what you had in mind right off the bat and pick up those extra picks? Pretty nice deal," Coughlin told Jacksonville reporters. "I’ve never seen one of those. . . Oh, my gosh. Nothing like that has ever come my way.”

When asked if the 49ers would have selected Foster if the Bears selected Thomas, Lynch said, “Perhaps. It was very likely.”

Instead, the 49ers waited and waited and waited before finding a trade partner in an unlikely place. The 49ers made a deal with Seattle, giving up the 111th pick obtained from Chicago, to select Foster before the Saints had a chance.

“He’s my kind of player,” Lynch said of Foster. “He plays sideline to sideline, and he’ll hit anything that moves. I think that’s contagious for teammates.”

Foster is recovering from shoulder surgery and his stock was negatively affected by character concerns. He was sent home from the NFL scouting combine after an argument with a hospital worker during his medical check. He also had a positive drug test due to a diluted urine sample.

Lynch spent a lot of time with Foster during his visit to Santa Clara, as well as a meeting him at the combine. Both Lynch and Shanahan spoke regularly with Foster on the phone and on FaceTime in the past few weeks.

The 49ers also dispatched vice president of football affairs Keena Turner and team chaplain Earl Smith to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to meet with Foster for two days. The team will have a plan in place to help guide Foster as he transitions to professional football, Lynch said.

“I would tell you that his character is what drew us to him,” Lynch said. “When you start talking football with this young man, he lights up a room. He’s a good kid. I believe in the kid. I think he’ll be a great player for this organization for a long time.”