PASSING OFFENSE: D—Brad Johnson had a second consecutive subpar performance, registering a 63.4 quarterback rating, throwing an interception and losing two fumbles when he took blind-side hits. The longest pass play went all of 14 yards to FB Tony Richardson, and WR Troy Williamson continued to struggle with dropped passes. He had two more against the 49ers, including a crucial drop on third-and-7 from the San Francisco 27-yard line on the Vikings' final drive of the game. RB Chester Taylor caught a team-leading eight passes for 45 yards, but he had a 65-yard touchdown catch nullified in the third quarter because of an illegal block call on WR Travis Taylor. Unlike the previous game against New England when Johnson was benched in the fourth quarter after throwing three interceptions, he managed to play the entire game this time.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus—hester Taylor returned to his workhorse ways after getting only 10 carries against New England, rushing 26 times for 96 yards (3.7-yard average). Taylor, though, failed to break loose for any big gains, and the offensive line did not have a particularly good game. Taylor's longest run of the day went for only 11 yards. Artose Pinner came in for a three-play sequence in the second half and gained 29 yards on three rushes. His longest came on his first carry and went for 16 yards.
PASS DEFENSE: B—Thanks in part to a good performance by the Vikings and ineptitude by the 49ers, San Francisco accounted for only 105 yards through the air. CB Antoine Winfield had the only interception of 49ers QB Alex Smith. Twenty-two of the 105 yards came on a Smith-to-Antonio Bryant pass in the first quarter. The Vikings sacked Smith three times and also broke up three of his passes.
RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus—DT Kevin Williams was playing with a high ankle sprain and NT Pat Williams had a sore knee, but it mattered little. The 49ers only rushed for 42 yards as the Vikings run defense continued to be dominant. RB Frank Gore gained only 41 yards on 19 carries (2.2 average). The Vikings have surrendered 100 yards rushing in a game only once this season, and that came in the season opener at Washington.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C—The Vikings surrendered a 36-yard kickoff return to Brandon Williams in the first quarter that gave the 49ers the ball at their own 39-yard line and set up San Francisco's first scoring drive. San Francisco also fooled the Vikings with an onside kick by Joe Nedney after his field goal made it 6-3. Bryan Gilmore recovered the ball as the Vikings watched. These two incidents alone bring the grade down. Ryan Longwell made his only field-goal attempt, a 21-yarder in the opening quarter, and Chris Kluwe averaged 39.6 gross yards and 39.2 net on five punts. Mewelde Moore, who returned a punt for a touchdown in the previous game against New England, averaged 9 yards on two returns. Bethel Johnson also did little to alter things, averaging 22 yards on three kickoff returns.
COACHING: D—Coach Brad Childress can't get the offense on track, and since he's the one calling the plays, he must take much of the blame. The Vikings have not scored a touchdown since the third quarter of their victory at Seattle three games ago. The Vikings' second prolonged offensive slump is at nine quarters. Defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin deserves credit for getting his group back on track after an off game against the Patriots. The defense kept the 49ers offense out of the end zone, despite having to insert backup middle linebacker Dontarrious Thomas for the injured Napoleon Harris.
Grading The Game: 49ers
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