Beyond the fact that it was an eminently interesting day in football yesterday, the 49ers seemingly forgot that there WAS football yesterday. After giving up a very easy scoring drive that burned 7:40 to lead off the game, and included a 3rd and 10 conversion, and a 4th and goal on the 1, the Niners sputtered their way to 3 points to start the 2nd quarter. The Vikes then ran off another 6+ minute drive for a TD. Galling was the 3rd and 11 Minn converted with a short pass and run for 11. Then Ponder scrambled untouched for 6. Another decent Niner drive was halted by a blocked FG attempt. Minn added insult to domination by driving for a FG of their own to close the 2nd quarter. 17-3 Vikings.
2nd half almost looked good for a bit. KW led off the 2nd half with a 94 yard kickoff return. Unfortunately the Niners couldn’t get the additional 14 yards and settled for a FG. After the D forced a quick (and their only) 3-and-out, the Niners scored on their only sustained drive of the day. Ending with (gasp) play action in the red zone for a 1 yard toss to VD. At 17-13, the Niner D needed to stop the much maligned Vikes. Instead, they gave up another long sustained dink and dunk drive surrounded by 2 very questionable unnecessary roughness penalties and an imaginary holding call on a legal jam within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. The 4th quarter devolved into a 3 stooges affair as Harbaugh was granted a challenge without any timeouts, was given a timeout back, and was able to challenge again on the seeming 5 fumbles by ex- Harbaugh acolyte Toby Gerhart, and a bunch of other stupid crap.
By far, this is the worst game played by a Jim harbaugh led 49er team. They started out flat, and strayed away from what got them their first 2 wins. Control the line of scrimmage on offense and pound the run to set up the pass. Gore wasn’t given very many touches in the 1s thalf, and the offense sputtered. Defensively, the 49ers couldn’t stop the dink and dunk attack of Ponder and the Vikings. AP had a pedestrian for him 86 yards rushing, but Ponder had his 23 yards scamper, and Minn ended up with 146 yards rushing. Unheard of in recent memory. Percy Harvin and co took advantage of the underneath routes all game. The biggest problem I saw was since the WRs were running deep routes, it cleared the midd of the field for 5-8 yard passes. Since the safeties were off, they couldn’t provide help fast enough to prevent 1st downs. The Niners on the other hand DIDN’T run deep routes, which clogged up the middle for their short-range passing game, and thus didn’t get the 1st downs that Minn was getting.
Troublesome to me is the Randy Moss situation. He’s barely getting any meaningful time out there, and judging by his lack of effort on that crossing route, he may well be on his way to checking out. The amazing pisser is the fact that Moss got a 12 yard cushion EVERY time he went out for a pass. The Niners should have gone to that EVERY time. 8 yard out, 8 yard out, 8 yard out 8 yard out. Do it til they STOP it. Harbaugh sometimes seems to get caught up in his own cuteness with these jumbo packages and such. Again, what annoys me is the WR routes. I love the fact that they have more weapons. But USE THEM for God’s sake. Use them for more than 8 yard passes. The Niners barely ever stretch the field with deep sideline passes. Unless it’s VD one on one. Which is nice when they do it, but they need more than their TE for home runs.
So, all in all, a bad effort by every phase of the team. They were outcoached, outhit, pushed around by Minn’s O and D lines, and they had a special teams screwup in the blocked FG. The lone bright spot was Kyle Williams and his 2 kickoff returns for 144 yards. Taken by itself, a crappy game in a long season of football. How they respond to this will be a pretty big deal as they go to NY for their game with the J-E-T-S. Yeah. it’s a road game in a tough environment, but if ever there was a team that was ready to roll over to a superior team, thy name is Jets.