The 49ers lost their first game of the season 24-13 to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon. Here is what we learned from the team three weeks into the season:
1. The run defense is still elite.
Adrian Peterson had 86 yards on 25 carries for the Vikings. He only averaged 3.4 yards per carry and had only a few gains for more than five yards. The 49ers stopped him on two consecutive goal line stands before Christian Ponder threw the opening touchdown. They may have allowed a rushing touchdown to Christian Ponder, but the team did good at preventing anything big from Peterson. Toby Gerhart was also ineffective on the ground.
2. A mobile quarterback can give the 49ers fits.
Vic Fangio admitted they needed to prepare for a quarterback who can move around. Ponder was not sacked at all because of his ability to get out of the pocket when it mattered. Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks were able to bring pressure, but the Vikings were able to counter it with shorter routes and swing passes if it came. Ponder’s decisions all day were a big factor as to why the defense couldn’t get the Vikings’ offense off the field. There were several broken plays that ended up being gains for the Vikings.
3. The special teams return game is a positive.
Kyle Williams had two returns which gave the 49ers good field position.He also fielded a punt which returned for 17 yards. Kendall Hunter also had a few decent returns which weren’t a problem for the 49ers. Williams has been working hard all offseason with something to prove. He hasn’t made a mistake on special teams thus far.
4. The 49ers need to work on getting in the endzone.
The team was only able to get one touchdown this game and wasted several opportunities for more points. Randy Moss was open on two occasions and Alex Smith failed to hit him. Kyle Williams helped return the ball to the Vikings’ 14-yard line, but the team couldn’t capitalize. They went three-and-out and settled for a field goal. Williams also returned a ball to the team’s 43-yard line but Frank Gore ended up fumbling the ball on the first play. In three trips to the red zone, the 49ers had two field goals and one touchdown in total. The team wasn’t able to execute plays when it mattered most.
5. The team is not invincible.
After playing two near flawless games, the 49ers showed they are human with this loss against the Vikings. This was a game they were dominated both offensively and defensively and they’ll need to go back to work against the New York Jets. Spectators have given the 49ers a target on their back and now the team will show how it handles the pressure with them putting the league on notice. Offensively they were never in sync to move the ball and get in the endzone. Defensively, the team was giving up short plays and couldn’t get to Christian Ponder at all. We’ll see how this team rebounds next week in the Meadowlands against the Jets.