Maiocco's Instant Replay: Vikings 24, 49ers 13

September 23, 2012, 8:15 pm
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The 49ers opened the season with strong showings against teams expected to be atop the NFC North.But their romp through the division came to an end Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings thoroughly out-performed the 49ers in a 24-13 victory in their home dome.Vikings second-year quarterback Christian Ponder made the 49ers' defense look ordinary, and the 49ers' offense could not string anything together against Minnesota.The 49ers (2-1) opened the season with outstanding performances against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions before falling to a team expected to again finish last in the NFC North. The Vikings were the only team in the division to finish with a losing record last season at 3-13.This was the kind of game in which no area of the 49ers won their battles . . . from coaching to offense, defense and special teams.Costly penalties: The Vikings took a 24-13 lead early in the fourth quarter with a lot of help from the 49ers' defense. The 49ers committed two unnecessary-roughness penalties, including a half-the-distance penalty on safety Dashon Goldson on an uncatchable pass with a shoulder-to-shoulder hit on tight end Kyle Rudolph. Two plays later, Carlos Rogers was called for defensive holding in the end zone. The Vikings scored on Christian Ponder's 2-yard pass to Rudolph.Offensive turnovers: Down 11 points in the fourth quarter, 49ers running back Frank Gore fumbled and gave the Vikings the ball at midfield. The 49ers went 30 regular-season quarters without a turnover on offense, dating back to the second quarter of their Thanksgiving Day game last season against the Baltimore Ravens. The turnovers weren't over yet. Alex Smith, who set a franchise record with 249 straight passes without an interception, saw his streak come to an end as well, as his pass intended for a wide-open Michael Crabtree sailed high and into the hands of Vikings defensive back Josh Robinson. Plays later, after the 49ers recovered a Toby Gerhart fumble, Alex Smith was stripped of the ball on a sack by Jared Allen and the ball was recovered by the Vikings. Three turnovers in all...
Something to Ponder: Ponder made a fantastic 1-yard touchdown throw to Rudolph on a bootleg under pressure from Dashon Goldson in the first quarter on a fourth-down play. Then, Ponder scrambled 23 yards up the middle for a touchdown midway through the second quarter as the Vikings led 17-3 at halftime. Ponder made the vaunted 49ers' defense look ordinary. Ponder completed 15 of 23 passes for 143 yards in the first half.Moss connection: Quarterback Alex Smith tried to get the ball to Randy Moss in the first half, but overshot him high three times on incomplete passes. Moss was making his first appearance in Minnesota as a visiting player. He received a loud reaction -- mostly cheers -- when he was introduced as part of the 49ers' starting lineup. Moss got his first starting assignment with the 49ers on Sunday. Moss had two catches for 15 yards in the first half, but he could've had a lot more.Notes: Kyle Williams gave the 49ers a little life at the opening of the second half with a 94-yard kickoff return to the Vikings' 14-yard line. But the 49ers settled for David Akers' second 29-yard field-goal of the game. He had a 50-yard return at the start of the fourth quarter. . . The 49ers inactive players were QB Scott Tolzien, WRs A.J. Jenkins and Ted Ginn (right ankle), RBs Brandon Jacobs (left knee) and LaMichael James, OL Joe Looney and NT Ian Williams. . . Rookie TE Garrett Celek suited up for the first time, as did OLB Eric Bakhtiari.