PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus -- The tone was set on the game's first play from scrimmage when Trent Dilfer's first pass hit defensive tackle Kevin Williams right between the eyes. The ball took a gratuitous bounce in the air and was caught by Williams, who returned it 18 yards into the end zone for a shocking touchdown that gave Minnesota a sudden lead it never wold relinquish. It didn't get a whole lot better the rest of the way for Dilfer, who was off with his throws and never got into a rhythm before being leveled at the end of the first half by a hit that sent him to the hospital with a concussion. Dilfer completed just nine of 17 passes, had a 23.4 passer rating and his longest completion went for just 11 yards. Shaun Hill provided a real spark in the second half by completing 22 of 28 passes for 180 yards and the 49ers' lone touchdown, taking what the Vikings were giving him underneath coverage. But Hill also turned over the ball twice when attempting to pass. Tight ends Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis combined for 11 receptions and Frank Gore had eight catches as the Vikings allowed the short stuff but gave up just one of more than 13 yards.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Gore continues to produce when given an opportunity on the ground, finishing with a 4.3 average on his 16 carries against the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense. Larry Allen, in particular, had some nice blocks in the run game. But Gore lost two fumbles, which negates just about all the good here, and his 68 yards rushing did little to help the 49ers, who had just three first downs rushing.
PASSING DEFENSE: C -- The Vikings made several plays when they needed them in the passing game to keep their offense moving as eight of their 11 first downs came through the air. There was practically no pressure at all on Minnesota quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who went practically untouched the entire afternoon. Jackson set up and threw quickly and completed passes to seven different targets, getting his backs and tight ends involved as well as his wideouts. A cornerback blitz by Nate Clements left Robert Ferguson uncovered on a slant, and Ferguson then broke two tackles after making the catch to turn the play into a touchdown that increased Minnesota's lead to 17-0. While focusing on the run, the 49ers made very few plays here, and Jackson finished with a 95.9 passer rating.
RUSHING DEFENSE: B -- It was an astounding showing from the defense which bottled rookie sensation Adrian Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher, the entire afternoon and stopped him like nobody in the league had yet to do. The 49ers played well up front and the linebackers were very active while limiting Peterson to just three net yards on his 14 carries. The Niners also held complementary back Chester Taylor to just 17 yards on seven of his eight carries. But it was the other carry that was a killer, as Taylor found a crack on the left side and turned it into an 84-yard touchdown run during which at least five 49ers missed tackles. That was the one ugly blemish on an otherwise sterling effort here. Take away that one play, and the Vikings had 33 yards rushing on 30 attempts.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- The 49ers finally got their return game untracked as Maurice Hicks averaged 34.0 yards on his six kickoff returns, including two 55-yard returns that gave San Francisco prime field position to begin drives. Nate Clements had a 16-yard punt return and appears to have taken over the lead role in that duty. The coverage units got very little action but did fine as usual when they were on the field. For once, Andy Lee's punting came back down to earth as he had a couple of shaky kicks and averaged just 34.3 on his six punts, though four of them were downed inside the 20. That's almost 16 yards a kick off Lee's season average.
COACHING: D -- A false start to open the game followed by an interception returned for a touchdown on the game's first play? The 49ers just did not appear ready to play, and that carried over throughout the first half until they woke up in the third quarter and won the second half 7-0. But while the game still was a contest, San Francisco's offense was the usual mess it has been all season under coordinator Jim Hostler. Let's face it: His game plans are simply devoid of any consistent threat to keep opponents off balance. The defensive plan was again solid, particularly in taking away the run, but the 49ers failed to rattle a young quarterback on passing downs. There also were five more turnovers a week after the 49ers had six, and while Mike Nolan preaches about the importance of ball security, he and his coaches seem unable to come up with a way to impress that upon their players. Ultimately, the 49ers were embarrassed again at home, a place where they haven't won since their season opener.
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