SFI's LIVE Game Blog: 49ers vs. Vikings

The struggling 49ers return to friendly confines today to begin a three-game homestand against the surging Minnesota Vikings, and SFI will keep you up to date on the action with live reports and commentary from Monster Park in San Francisco. Make sure to refresh this page every 15 minutes for running updates throughout the game.

12:45 p.m. Greetings, 49ers fans. You guys and gals are still out there, right? When the season began, getting the Vikings at home seemed like one of the more winnable games on San Francisco's schedule. Now the tables are turned and it's the Vikings, winners of three in a row, who could be anticipating a breather, if you watch the way the point spread climbed by two points in their favor since the beginning of the week. San Francisco is a nine-point underdog at home to a 6-6 team. That's another way to tell you how badly things have fallen apart this season …

12:49: But for those who remember, this is where San Francisco's turnaround began last season. The 49ers were coming off a horrendous 41-10 beatdown in Chicago – they trailed 41-0 at halftime – and were sinking at 2-5 when they returned home to face the Vikings last November. After allowing 89 points in their previous two games, the 49ers somehow limited Minnesota to a field goal in a 9-3 victory. That began a three-game winning streak that vaulted the 49ers into playoff contention and was a springboard to the high expectations the team carried into this season. My, how things have changed …

12:51: But this Minnesota team isn't that Minnesota team. The Vikings enter this game with the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack, and they also are No. 1 in the league in rushing defense. Trent Dilfer, step right up. Even with studly Frank Gore in the backfield, it seems reasonable to assume the 49ers will have to pass to have a chance at winning today …

12:55: Third QB Alex Smith, WR LeRon McCoy, CB Marcus Hudson, CB Shawntae Spencer, LB Roderick Green, OT Patrick Estes, DE Atiyyah Ellison and WR Jason Hill are the 49ers' inactive players today …

12:59: It has been announced in the press box that Ashley Lelie will start in place of Arnaz Battle at wide receiver. That will give the 49ers a different look at the onset, but Battle – battling an injured ankle – is in uniform and will play …

1:03: Larry Allen, Marques Douglas and Jeff Ulbrich march out to midfield for the coin toss. Tarvaris Jackson, Kevin Williams and Eric Frampton are there for the Vikings. San Francisco wins the toss and will be on offense first …

1:07: Unbelievable!! Maurice Hicks finds a little crack on the opening kickoff and returns it 24 yards to the 26. But before San Francisco can even get a play off, tight end Vernon Davis jumps off the line and is called for a false start. But that's even better than what happened next when the 49ers did get off their first offensive play. Dilfer takes a short drop, then throws over the middle right into Kevin Williams' face. The pass hits Williams in the face mask, bounces in the air, and Williams grabs it with his big paws. He then takes off around the left corner and returns it 18 yards for a stunning touchdown. Wow!! Just like that, the Vikings are in the end zone on San Francisco's first offensive play with just 14 seconds elapsed in the game. Fourteen seconds!!! Like we said, un-frickin-believable …
Vikings 7, 49ers 0

1:15: The 49ers actually get something moving after the ensuing kickoff. Frank Gore takes a delayed handoff and rumbles up the middle for 15 yards. On the next play, Dilfer hooks up with Lelie on a slant for 10 yards and another first down. It looks like San Francisco finally is going to make some good use of the talented Lelie today. And there goes Dilfer, throwing long down the sideline for Lelie. And there's a flag as Lelie collides with cornerback Antoine Winfield! But what a bail-out by the officials. They call pass interference on Winfield, but also offensive pass interference on Lelie. Huh??! Dilfer goes deep down the right sideline again for Lelie on second-and-6, but it's out of bounds. On third down, Dilfer throws behind a wide-open Delanie Walker on a slant, and the ball glances off Walker's hands and the Niners have to punt …

1:29: The Vikings come out on offense with Chester Taylor at tailback – not rookie phenom Adrian Peterson. Taylor is hit hard by cornerback Walt Harris for a short gain on Minnesota's first offensive play, but Jackson throws for a first down on the next play. Two plays later, Jackson scrambles for another first down, and Peterson finally makes his game debut on the next play. The 49ers lock him up for a two-yard loss on his first carry, and Peterson is stuffed after a two-yard gain the next time he touches the ball. But he picks up a key first down on a third-and-10 pass in the flat that seemed to get a generous spot by the officials. Mike Nolan throws the red flag to challenge the spot, but it is eventually upheld after a review, and the 49ers lose a timeout. But the Vikings don't get another first down as the San Francisco defense stiffens, and Ryan Longwell comes in to attempt a 48-yard field goal, which he puts through the uprights to complete a 13-play, 55-yard drive that ate six minutes, 15 seconds off the clock …
Vikings 10, 49ers 0

1:39: The comedy of errors continues on offense. Dilfer throws way over everybody's head on what was supposed to be a quick hitch pass on the sideline. Then Davis is called for another false start. Sheez! The Niners get out of that hole by moving the chains with a third-down pass from Dilfer to Maurice Hicks. But on the next play, Gore fumbles a pitch from Dilfer – the ball is free and Dilfer barely gets to it before Minnesota defenders – and the drive is doomed right there. Ball back to Minnesota after an uncharacteristically poor punt by Andy Lee …

1:45: The Vikings quickly drive into San Francisco territory as Robert Ferguson beats Walt Harris on the right side for a 23-yard completion. Two plays later, Jackson goes to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe for nine yards as the first quarter ends, and the Vikings will face a third-and-1 from the San Francisco 22 to begin the second quarter …

1:52: The second quarter begins with Peterson ploughing up the middle for three yards and the first down. Jackson then misses a diving Shiancoe in the end zone on a play that was well-covered by the 49ers. But on the next play … well, let's just say not-so-good coverage by the Niners. San Francisco brings Nate Clements on a cornerback blitz from the left side, but unfortunately for the 49ers, that was the side the Vikings were going to. Jackson hits a wide-open Ferguson on a short pass, and Ferguson does the rest. First, Derek Smith bounces off Ferguson and misses a tackle that would have got him down before the first down. Then, after Smith's miss, Ferguson cuts back and leaves safety Michael Lewis flat-footed and walks into the end zone to complete a 19-yard touchdown play. My gosh. The 49ers are just looking b-a-d. There still is 14:14 remaining on the clock in the second quarter, and up in the press box, more than a few wags are saying, "Game over." …
Vikings 17, 49ers 0

1:57: There's a little life by the home team – Hicks returns the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to set up the 49ers with a first down at the Minnesota 44 as the crowd roars. A few plays later, the crowd is booing again. The 49ers waste the great starting position, gaining just one yard in three plays as Dilfer overthrows his target on third down. Lee punts it back to the Vikings, who will be starting deep in their own territory …

2:04: The 49ers are doing a pretty good job of wrapping up Minnesota's vaunted rushing attack. But the Niners can't get the Vikings off the field on third down as Jackson finds openings to move the chains. But there Lewis is, making a good hit after a third-down completion to prevent a first down and finally force the Vikings to punt. Clements returns a big punt by Chris Kluwe to the San Francisco 34, so the Niners have some decent starting position as they give it another try on offense …

2:06: Gawd, how much worse can this get?! Gore takes a handoff on first down and breaks up the middle, but he forgets something as he runs into defenders. It's the football!! Linebacker E.J. Henderson picks up the loose ball, and there is open field ahead of him. Only Dilfer is between Henderson and the end zone, and the San Francisco comes up to make a shoe-string tackle at the 23 after Henderson returns the latest gaffe by the 49ers 16 yards …

2:09: It's a lot to ask, since they've only had one play of rest, but the San Francisco defense comes on and shuts down the Vikings. Clements comes up from the left corner to dump Peterson for a loss of six yards on first down, and the Vikings eventually have to settle for a 46-yard field goal attempt, which Longwell routinely drills ...
Vikings 20, 49ers 0

2:14: There goes Hicks again, breaking loose on the ensuing kickoff, and now he's in open field down the right sideline. It's another 55-yard return that sets up San Francisco at the Minnesota 45. And once again, the floundering offense needs just three plays of going nowhere on three Dilfer incompletions to waste the great starting position. Lee punts it back to Minnesota, which will be starting deep in its own territory …

2:16: We've seen bad this season, and we've seen worse than bad. So what do you call this? It defies description. Peterson is stuffed behind the line for a three-yard loss on first down, but what comes next isn't pretty. Taylor takes a handoff on second-and-13, slips through a crack on the right side, then cuts upfield. He weaves toward the sideline, and he's got some teammates running in front of him. There's only safety Lewis to beat now, and Taylor cuts back on him and he's gone! There Taylor goes, strutting into the end zone to complete a sudden 84-yard touchdown run. So much for shutting down the run. And now we have clearly reached the embarrassment stage with six minutes remaining in the first half …
Vikings 27, 49ers 0

2:22: The 49ers convert on third-and-4 to move into Minnesota territory, but Dilfer is sacked for a nine-yard loss on the next play and then he misfires on third down and the 49ers have to punt again. The boos at Monster Park have never been louder as Dilfer walks off the field with a grimace. There is nowhere to hide, Trent …

2:25: A big play by the San Francisco to at least temporarily halt the onslaught. On Minnesota's first offensive play, Jackson hits rookie Aundrae Allison for a 14-yard gain and first down, but Walt Harris comes up and strips him of the ball. There's a mad pileup for the football, and underneath it all, rookie linebacker Patrick Willis comes up with it at the Minnesota 28, and the 49ers already are in scoring territory …

2:33: Bad fades to worse yet again for the 49ers. They move down to the Minnesota 10, where they face a fourth-and-2 with 18 seconds remaining. Down 27-0, you don't go for a field goal here, and to their credit the 49ers are going for the first down or touchdown. Dilfer drops back, can't find his first option, slips a defender in the pocket, and now he has some open field on the left. He takes off across the field, and as he lunges head-first for the first down, Dilfer takes a shot from cornerback Charles Gordon. Dilfer is down, and he's not moving. At all. The stadium draws to a hush as 49ers trainers race out to take a look …

2:38: Dilfer is down on the turf almost five minutes, but he eventually gets up and is helped off the field in the arms of two trainers. It's difficult to tell if he was conked in the head or if it's a shoulder injury. And to add insult to injury once Dilfer is safely escorted to the sideline, the chain gang comes out and he's inches short of the first down. The Minnesota offense comes onto the field, Jackson takes a knee, and that mercifully brings to an end one of the worst halves of football I've personally ever seen played by the 49ers in two decades covering the team …

2:49: The halftime numbers are predictably atrociously one-sided. The Vikings have a 226-79 edge in total yards and Dilfer has a 23.4 passer rating to show for his seven completions in 19 attempts for 45 yards. On the other end, Jackson is a nifty 10 of 16 for 115 yards with a 104.9 passer rating, and Taylor has 99 yards rushing on six carries. And then there's those two killer San Francisco turnover. On the bright side, the 49ers have stuffed Peterson – the NFL's leading rusher – while holding him to minus-2 yards on six carries. Some consolation …

2:52: The word in the press box is Dilfer has a head injury and he is out for the game. And now the radio of the emergency technician sitting next to SFI's seat is that Dilfer is going to be transported to the hospital. Head injuries are a scary thing, especially when they happen in the NFL. Here's a prayer and good wish going out to Dilfer that he's going to be OK …
2:58: The Vikings go three-and-out on offense to begin the second half, and as the San Francisco comes onto the field, it's Shaun Hill at quarterback, playing his first meaningful snaps in six NFL seasons …

3:02: And look at that. Hill's first NFL pass is a completion to Walker, and then Gore picks up a first down on the next play. Hill then slings a quick pass to Darrell Jackson for another first down. A few plays later, it's a Hill pass to Battle for a first down, and now the 49ers are driving into the red zone. Where has this Hill guy been all this time? …

3:05: Gore bursts into the second level, then bangs up the middle on third down to give the 49ers a first down at the 11. Hill goes to Walker at the right sideline for five yards on first down, then Gore gets one tough yard on second down. On third-and-5, Hill shows patience and poise in the pocket, then finds Battle wide open in the left corner of the end zone and hits him in the hands with a pass. Touchdown, 49ers!! Yeah, on this day, that deserves some exclamation. Hill, whose only previous NFL snaps had been kneel-downs in one season with the Vikings, just drove the 49ers 61 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown and looked good doing it. And, hey, the 49ers are back within three touchdowns!! …
Vikings 27, 49ers 7

3:17: The Vikings get one first down, but Willis drills Peterson for no gain a few plays later, and Tully Banta-Cain drills a scrambling Jackson on third down and Minnesota has to punt. There's three minutes left in the third quarter, and Hill brings the 49ers out to start their next drive at the San Francisco 25. And he hits Walker for a 26-yard catch-and-run on first down. The 49ers are back in Minnesota territory after only one play …

3:22: Uh-oh. On Hill's next pass attempt, the ball slips out of his hand and pops in the air – right into the hands of Minnesota defensive tackle Pat Williams. Yes that's defensive tackle Pat Williams this time, not defensive tackle Kevin Williams. But either way, that sure looks familiar. So much for building San Francisco momentum. The Vikings have the ball back at their own 45 …

3:25: And the Vikings crank out another third-down conversion with a Jackson completion to move the chains. Minnesota will face a second-and-14 from the San Francisco 39 as the fourth quarter begins …

3:28: The defense holds, forcing a loss of one yard on the next two plays, and the 49ers get the ball back after a coffin-corner punt by Kluwe at their own 6 – not exactly good starting position …

3:35: Hill can't get the 49ers out of the hole as he way overthrows Jackson down the right sideline on third down. Lee blasts a 60-yard punt, his best of the day, but it goes to waste as the 49ers are flagged for illegal man downfield. The Vikings would have had to start at their own 30 after nice coverage, but following the re-kick – this time, a shanked 36-yarder by Lee – and Minnesota starts at the San Francisco 43 instead, making that penalty cost the 49ers 27 yards of field position …

3:40: Peterson breaks of a big chunk of yardage on first down, but the Vikings are called for holding on the play, and that ultimately dooms a prime opportunity for them to get more points on the board as they have to punt again. After a 10-yard holding penalty by the Vikings is tacked on to Michael Lewis' short return, the 49ers start their next drive at their 25 with 9:51 remaining to play …

3:46: The Vikings are starting to get wise that Hill has problems the farther he goes down the field, and they start taking away the shorter routes. But he still is able to dink down the field on short passes, moving the chains with a third-down completion to Davis, who runs over a few defenders before he is brought down. But on the next play, Hill completes a pass to Lelie, who is stripped of the ball. The Vikings have five defenders around the ball, but Lelie is somehow able to recover his own fumble. So that's a semi-break for the 49ers …

3:48: The 49ers have a second-and-3 after that play, but two incompletions by Hill brings up fourth down. The 49ers go for it, and they get the first down when Hill stands strong in the pocket with a heavy rush coming and hits Walker on a crossing pattern that takes the 49ers into Minnesota territory …

3:50: Going back to their old habits, the 49ers get flagged for false starts by David Baas and Adam Snyder two plays apart, and now they're back in their own territory. But a second-down pass to Walker picks up 13 yards, then a dump off to Gore on third down picks up another first as Gore jukes Winfield on the sideline and blows past him …

3:52: A lot of good that does, though. On the next play, Gore takes a short pass over the middle from Hill and bursts upfield. But he's stripped of the ball and Henderson recovers for the Vikings at the Minnesota 33 with five minutes to play. That figures. That's the way this game has gone all day for the 49ers. And that's two lost fumbles for their best offensive player …

3:57: The 49ers, using all their timeouts, stop the Vikings and get the ball right back with 4:34 to play …

4:03: Throwing on every down, Hill takes the 49ers down to the Minnesota 37, where they have a first down at the two-minute warning after Gore takes a short pass on third down and bulls forward to move the chains …

4:06: And figure this: Hill gets hit as he attempts to throw, the ball pops up in the air again, and defensive tackle Spencer Johnson grabs it at the line for another interception. That's a trifecta for Minnesota defensive tackles. Has there ever been a game in the NFL where three different defensive tackles record an interception for the same team? Well, that just happened here, and it's sort of a fitting ending to San Francisco's last shot on offense …

4:08: Jackson kneels down twice as the final seconds tick away, and that's it. Another horrible loss by the 49ers, their 10th in 11 games, cushioned only a little bit by a spark provided by Hill and a second-half shutout of the Vikings. The problem was, this one was over before halftime – way over. But these days with these 49ers, you look for consolation wherever you can find it. It's a double-digit loss season now for San Francisco, with three more chances left to make it better – or worse.
Final score: Vikings 27, 49ers 7

Make sure to check back with sfillustrated.com later this afternoon and evening for full post-game coverage, analysis and comments from the San Francisco locker room, and then check back throughout the week for daily coverage of the team and NFL as the 49ers continue their three-game homestand with next week's Saturday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals.



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