Brandon Jacobs, RBs lead 49ers past Vikings 17-6
So much for all those questions about how Brandon Jacobs and San
Francisco’s retooled running back group might fit behind three-time
Pro Bowler Frank Gore this season.
Sure seemed seamless in the preseason opener.
Jacobs, Kendall Hunter and Co. helped the 49ers pile up 260
yards rushing, sprinting past the Minnesota Vikings 17-6 Friday
night in an impressive debut.
”It’s always the first question,” 49ers coach Jim 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 fit.”
So much for an NFC title game hangover, too.
Alex 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 San Francisco’s season was off and running –
Jacobs, Hunter and Rock Cartwright combined for 69 yards rushing
on the first drive for San Francisco (No. 4 in the AP Pro32
rankings) while Gore watched from the sideline. Minnesota had only
82 yards rushing.
”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
In the first game at Candlestick since the overtime loss in the
NFC championship game 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 has gone well.
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
Anthony Dixon (46 yards) and rookie LaMichael James (15 yards)
also chipped in late, too.
”I don’t think they really need me to bounce outside here, we
have other backs to do that,” Jacobs said. ”I’m coming to play
the ground game, the tough game, the 1970s-type game. That’s the
kind of football I want to play.”
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
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 rushing.
”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
Harbaugh said he was still waiting to hear from the 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
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 run
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 these 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
Follow Antonio Gonzalez at:
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and