49ers 17, Vikings 6

Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers picked up right where

they left off last season.

So much for an NFC title game hangover.

Smith tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Brett Swain on the

opening possession, backup Colin Kaepernick ran 78 yards for a

score on the next and the 49ers breezed past the Minnesota Vikings

17-6 Friday night in the preseason opener for both teams.

”I thought they were on top of their business,” 49ers coach

Jim Harbaugh said.

Sure looked like it all the way around.

Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter and Rock Cartwright combined for

69 yards rushing on the first drive to lead a reloaded running back

group for San Francisco (No. 4 in the AP Pro32 rankings) on a night

three-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore rested. Smith finished 3 for 3

passing for 16 yards.

San Francisco had 260 yards rushing to Minnesota’s 82 yards.

”We ran the ball really well that opening drive and all game,”

Smith said. ”Anytime you can do that it just makes our jobs a lot


The only real shortcoming for the Vikings’ regulars came on the


Christian Ponder completed 4 of 9 passes for 80 yards, and Toby

Gerhart ran for 31 yards for Minnesota (No. 29) in place of

rehabbing starter Adrian Peterson. The Vikings offense showed

promise, moving the ball with ease until settling for field goals

of 39 and 26 yards by new kicker Blair Walsh in Candlestick Park’s

whipping winds.

”We would have liked to have come out with touchdowns rather

than two field goals,” Ponder said. ”But it was a pretty good

start. There were a lot of positives. We moved the ball well

against a really good defense.”

Randy Moss made his 49ers debut after sitting out last season,

though it was hard to notice. The 35-year-old wide receiver, who

signed a one-year deal with San Francisco, played sparingly and was

never targeted.

In the first game at Candlestick since the overtime loss in the

NFC championship to the New York Giants on Jan. 22, the new-look

49ers started strong.

Jacobs, who signed a one-year deal with San Francisco after

winning his second Super Bowl with New York, showed his strength in

short-yardage situations – a missing element for the 49ers last

season – by running for 3 yards on fourth-and-1 from San

Francisco’s 47 to extend the opening drive. He added a 23-yard

sprint and finished with 31 yards on the ground. All four of his

rushes led to a San Francisco first down.

The big, burly running back’s transition seemed seamless.

”It’s always the first question,” Harbaugh said. ”Just human

nature, you’re trying to find out what’s in another man’s heart. Is

he about us? Is he about himself? It has been a great group, from

first-year guys to 10-plus year guys. I think it’s been a good


San Francisco also received rushes of 19 yards by Cartwright and

14 by Hunter to set up Smith’s short fade to Swain that finished

off the first-team’s only possession. The 12-play, 84-yard drive

lasted 7:21 and resembled the kind of grind-it-out fight that

helped the 49ers to a 13-3 regular season last year and the

franchise’s first playoff appearance in a decade.

For a team that relied so much on defense a year ago, the

offensive blitz – even for the preseason – could go a long way to

lift San Francisco’s spirits.

Kaepernick, the former Nevada quarterback drafted 36th overall

last year, kept a read-option on his second play from scrimmage for

a 78-yard touchdown, sprinting down the right side almost

uncontested. He stiff-armed cornerback Chris Cook the final 20

yards, tossed the ball when he reached the end zone and flung his

arms wildly in celebration after giving San Francisco a 14-6 lead.

He threw for 40 yards on 5-for-9 passing and had 90 yards


”I felt very much at home when I saw that hole open up,”

Kaepernick said. ”I had a flashback there.”

Not a bad opening act.

Maybe the only major blemish for the 49ers came when linebacker

Aldon Smith, the runner-up for AP Defensive Rookie of the Year,

left in the first quarter with what the team called a bruised hip.

Harbaugh said he was still waiting to hear from team doctor, but

”preliminary (results) looks like we’ll be all right, looks like

we’ll dodge a bullet there.” Smith walked out of the locker room

without talking to reporters.

The other hiccup came when Carlos Rogers bit on an outside fake

by Stephen Burton and thought he had safety help over the middle on

Minnesota’s first possession. Burton sliced back inside and caught

a 52-yard pass from Ponder to put Minnesota at San Francisco’s

24-yard line.

While the Vikings starters moved the ball often, they never

found the end zone.

Gerhart, the 2009 Heisman Trophy runner-up under Harbaugh at

Stanford, carried the bulk of the offense, including a 16-yard

scamper to San Francisco’s 12-yard line. But drives for Minnesota’s

regulars ended in field goals by Walsh, who is replacing longtime

veteran Ryan Longwell.

”If we can turn this 3s into 7s, that’s really going to be a

big thing for us,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. ”That’s

something we talked about all offseason. We need to get those


NOTES: Vikings DT Letroy Guion left in the first quarter because

of a strained knee and will be out 1-2 weeks, said Frazier, who

didn’t know which knee was injured. … Former 49ers coach Mike

Singletary handed out hugs and handshakes during pregame warm-ups.

The game marked the first time Singletary – now the Vikings

linebackers coach and special assistant to Frazier – was back at

Candlestick since San Francisco fired the Hall of Fame linebacker

after a 5-10 start in 2010. … Vikings WR Percy Harvin, CB Antoine

Winfield and DL Kevin Williams and Jared Allen were not in uniform.

… DL Justin Smith and Will Tukuafu and WR Mario Manningham were

among the San Francisco notables given the game off, which is

typical for veterans in the preseason opener.

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Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and