The 49ers regained their run game, as Frank Gore rushed for more than 200 yards in a victory last week over the Seattle Seahawks. But at some point the 49ers are going to need more contributions from the passing attack.
In two games, quarterback Shaun Hill has thrown for just 353 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Certainly, the 49ers are not complaining.
But what happens Sunday if the 49ers fall behind and need Hill's passing to lead them back against the unbeaten Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome?
"Hopefully, we never have to ask him to do that," 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. "Hopefully we don't have to have a quarterback here in a position to just take us and put us on his back and take us down the field."
Singletary said he wants the defense, running game - and specifically, the offensive line - to be the areas on which the 49ers will rely this season.
The defense was stellar in victories over the Arizona Cardinals and Seahawks. The 49ers have not surrendered any points in the first quarter, and they have given up just 26 points total in two games.
The 49ers want to control the game and the clock with its running attack. They have accomplished that, as well, with an average six-minute advantage in time of possession.
Meanwhile, Hill just keeps plugging away. He is 9-3 in parts of three seasons as the team's starting quarterback. This is the first season that he has started a game in the first half of the season in his eight-year NFL career.
Hill is completing 65 percent of his passes with one touchdown and no interceptions.
"I believe that what he's doing right now has been good enough the first two games," Singletary said. "Going forward, to start with, we're going to run the ball. We're going to have to run the ball, and as we run the ball and Shaun Hill makes some plays here and there and as he gets more comfortable, he can open it up a bit."
Hill has a low-key demeanor off the field, as he never lobbies for offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye to change his approach.
"We've been able to run the ball and that's a good thing," Hill said.
But he said the offense will be ready if placed in a situation in which the passing game must take charge.
"We practice all that stuff all the time," he said.
And the 49ers implemented all that practice in the season opener, too. The 49ers stubbornly stuck with the run game through three quarters and found themselves trailing.
Raye turned it over to Hill at the start of the fourth quarter, and Hill responded with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard scoring pass to Gore. On the drive, Hill attempted 13 passes.
Tight end Vernon Davis, who is one of Hill's favorite targets, said it would be a good thing if the 49ers open up the offense.
"You got to leave that up to Jimmy Raye," he said.
Hill has been very efficient when given an opportunity to play. His career passer rating is 90. He's thrown 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
"I think Shaun Hill is a game manager," Davis said. "He shows a lot of poise and is not scared. He comes ready to play every Sunday, and he's confident in what he can do."
SERIES HISTORY: 39th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead 19-18-1. The teams have also met five times in the NFC playoffs, with the 49ers holding a 4-1 record.
BY THE NUMBERS: 79 and 80 — Running back Frank Gore had two career-long carries Sunday against the Seahawks. With his two long touchdown runs, he joined Barry Sanders as the only other player in league history to have two scoring runs of at least 75 yards in the same game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Well, you know what? If they're not taking us seriously, that's OK. They can keep doing that. We're going to continue to take ourselves seriously." - Coach Mike Singletary on the perception of the 49ers around the league.