An efficient passing game, patience with the running game, and one big run contributed to the offense’s 20-point output. Not the best all-around performance of the season, but the offense made plays when they needed to and limited the number of mistakes they made.
From an efficiency, judgment and ball security standpoint, this might have been the best performance by young quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to date. He completed 16-of-25 passes (64%) for 163 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a 95.9 passer rating. Jackson made several pinpoint passes, made quick, smart decisions with the football and did not come close to turning the ball over. His passing numbers could have been even better as he had some balls dropped and at least one other incompletion was a throwaway. He also finished with 9 rushing attempts for 13 yards, with a long of 12 yards that gained a first down. The other runs usually avoided sack yardage or were kneel-downs.
Chester Taylor started and had the most success on this day, rushing 8 times for 101 yards (12.6 avg.), with an impressive 84-yard touchdown run. Taylor won’t flat out outrun many defenders, but he will also get maximum yardage out of every opportunity, showing exceptional run vision, balance and determination. He made people miss, made the most of some terrific downfield blocking and showed just enough speed and stiff-arm to go the distance. Take away that run and the ‘Niners held him to just 17 yards and 2.4 yards per carry. Taylor also caught 3-23 in the passing game and did a nice job on some blitz pickups.
The 49ers shut down Adrian Peterson like no other team had done before, holding him to just 3 yards on 14 rushing attempts (0.2 avg.), with a long run of just 4 yards. In fact, six times they dropped Peterson for a loss. His lone truly successful run for 21 yards around right end was nullified by a holding penalty. How they did it was by committing eight defenders to the run with a cornerback flying in off the edge the moment it became clear that Peterson was getting the ball. Four-of-the-six times he was tackled for a loss involved a defensive back coming up off the edge. It’s a strategy that others will begin to employ, no doubt. But Peterson is still just one seam or one broken tackle from breaking a big one, anyway. Jackson also showed in this week’s game that he is ready to take advantage of holes left in the secondary by committing so many resources to stopping Peterson.
Fullback Tony Richardson had one nice 12-yard catch-and-run that picked up a first down when it looked like he would be stopped short, but shook a would-be-tackler and lunged ahead to advance the chains. Jeff Dugan got some snaps in the backfield as well.
Robert Ferguson started and led Viking receivers with 4 catches for 57 yards, with a long of 23 yards and including a 19-yard catch-and-run for his first touchdown in a Viking uniform early in the second quarter to open up a 17-0 lead. Ferguson also did some very nice downfield blocking on the 84-yard run by Taylor.
Bobby Wade caught 3-25, one a key third-down conversion.
Sidney Rice came off the bench to catch 2 passes for 21 yards, both receptions clutch third-down receptions to convert. He had two other attempts his direction but were short-hopped/difficult catches. Rice also pitched in downfield on Taylor’s touchdown run.
Aundrae Allison had one catch for 14 yards, but lost the ball on a fumble. He also dropped one other catchable throw from Jackson.
Troy Williamson was inactive once again with some lingering affects from a concussion sustained two weeks ago.
Visanthe Shiancoe caught 2 passes for 11 yards. He had one throw down the middle that was tipped away by the linebacker in coverage. He had another potential touchdown catch (for 19 yards) that he failed to secure in the endzone. Shiancoe also drew a holding penalty that nullified an 11-yard run by Taylor in the second quarter.
Jim Kleinsasser did not see a pass but was his usual productive self as a blocker.
First-year tight end Garrett Mills kept his inactive streak alive once again.
You have to give the O-line credit for keeping Jackson clean the entire game, not giving up a sack or an official quarterback hurry. Jackson helped out a couple time with his feet, but he had time to throw virtually all day long.
The starting unit of OLT Bryant McKinnie, OLG Steve Hutchinson, C Matt Birk, ORG Anthony Herrera and ORT Ryan Cook played every down. McKinnie and Hutchinson had the seal at the point of attack on Taylor’s long run around left end. Nobody truly stood out or many glaring errors. But 49ers’ rookie middle linebacker Patrick Willis (8 tackles) was difficult to block all afternoon. It was Birk’s holding penalty that brought back Peterson’s 21-yard run from scrimmage.
Marcus Johnson played only on special teams and would have been second string at both tackle or guard. Rookie Chase Johnson suited up for the first time this season but did not play. Veteran Artis Hicks (back spasms) was inactive.
Coming Soon: Special Teams.