Letdown? More like a beatdown in 49ers' loss

September 23, 2012, 11:13 pm
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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."

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