Heading into their week-3 showdown with the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers were widely regarded as the top team in the NFL following their appearance in the NFC Championship game last season and back-to-back wins at Green Bay to open the season and at home against the Detroit Lions. Talk on local radio shows questioned if the Niners could be primed to make a run at 16-0 on their way to a Super Bowl Championship?
Perhaps now that talk can take a step backwards and expectations can drop back to more realistic levels.
The 49ers did not look like the top-team they were hyped to be following a lousy performance in Minnesota. David Akers had a field goal blocked, Frank Gore fumbled a ball, Alex Smith threw an interception (ending his franchise record at 249 passes without having one picked off), and Dashon Goldson was called for two unnecessary roughness penalties.
The first half was all Vikings as San Francisco struggled on both sides of the ball and saw just a single field goal from Akers on the score board.
The 49ers opened the second half with a promising 94-yard kickoff return by Kyle Williams. Williams was tackled short of the endzone though, and San Francisco was unable to punch one in for a touchdown, rather settling for a field goal by Akers and three points instead of seven.
Alex Smith then led San Francisco on an 86-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis to bring the score to 13-17, but that was the final time the 49ers would score.
Christian Ponder led a touchdown drive of his own to push the score to 24-13 with his second touchdown pass of the game to Kyle Rudolph. Ponder also scored on his own on a 23-yard run in the second quarter.
The 49ers still had time to come back, but Gore turned the ball over with a fumble on the first snap of a drive. The defense responded by shutting down the Vikings on a three-and-out, but Smith and the 49ers offense were never able to find their rhythm against Minnesota.
Smith’s interception ended a franchise record 249-straight passes without a pick. The last time he had thrown an interception was on Thanksgiving day last season against the Baltimore Ravens. Smith completed the day 24-of-35 with one touchdown and one interception for an 81.1 passer rating, his lowest of the year so far.
In Randy Moss’ return to Minnesota, he caught three passes for 27 yards but was held scoreless. Mario Manningham led San Francisco receivers with 56 yards on five receptions. Michael Crabtree had six receptions for 40 yards and Vernon Davis had five receptions for 53 yards and the only 49er touchdown on the day.
The 49ers are on the road again next week visiting the 2-1 New York Jets.