The preseason debut of No. 4 lasted four plays.
Brett Favre's return to the field yielded as many sacks on him as completed passes (one) by him, and his first appearance of the 2010 preseason lasted just one series, the first play being a 13-yard completion to Adrian Peterson, marking the only first down of Favre's only series.
Favre admitted in his halftime interview on NBC that they didn't accomplish much, but he understood the decision to pull him against a physical 49ers defense. The offense didn't improve much from there either, as the 49ers kept most of their starters in longer than the Vikings and it showed, ending in a 15-10 San Francisco win.
The Vikings' passing game was erratic, from Favre to Tarvaris Jackson to Sage Rosenfels to Joe Webb. None of the four quarterbacks had more than 50 yards passing, and they combined for only 114 yards through the air.
The 49ers defensive pressure was obvious. Favre took a hard hit by linebacker Patrick Willis on a 10-yard sack on his third play of the game, and San Francisco's pressure was partly to blame for Webb and Jackson becoming the Vikings' leading rushers.
Webb, who played five series in the fourth quarter, scored the team's only touchdown when he was pressured in the pocket, escaped around the right end, cut back toward the middle of the field, slipped an arm tackle and showed his athletic skills in racing 48 yards with 1:54 to play.
But Webb also showed his inexperience at time, including the final play of the game when he was trying to buy time scrambling in his own end zone for a desperation pass that never happened. He was sacked on the final play of the game for a safety.
Although Favre only played one series, much of the rest of the first-team offense – or the healthy players left on the first-team offense – stayed in for another series, and it became clear that getting Peterson involved was a focus. He rushed six times for 17 yards and caught three passes for 25 yards before being pulled after two series.
On the opening series, Peterson touched the ball on the first two plays – the 13-yard pass to start the offense and a 3-yard loss on a run. He began the next series by getting the ball on the first four plays – runs of 7, 13 and 3 yards and a 4-yard reception. The offense moved away from Peterson for a bit, with Bernard Berrian and Jackson picking up first downs on successive plays and getting the ball into the red zone, but a holding call on rookie Chris DeGeare halted the momentum and the Vikings settled for a Ryan Longwell field goal for the team's only points of the first half, drawing them to a 7-3 deficit.
The 49ers had already scored on the opening drive of the game as quarterback Alex Smith operated an efficient offense that drove to midfield on intermediate gains before becoming a bit more explosive. That started when Smith hit Dominique Zeigler for a 13-yard pass and tight end Delanie Walker for 22 more one play later. Walker also put the ball inside the 5-yard line with an 11-yard reception on the next third down, and rookie Anthony Dixon scored on a 4-yard run when cornerback Asher Allen lost contain.
It was a lead the 49ers didn't relinquish the entire game.
Working the rest of the first half, Jackson couldn't muster more than his field goal drive, and Rosenfels' third-quarter action consisted of three three-and-out series.
Meanwhile, 49ers backup Nate Davis, who played the entire second half, looked sharp and led San Francisco on two field goal drives. The first one came on Davis' second series, thanks mainly to one play. Facing the initial third down of the drive, he scrambled to buy time and launched a missile 60 yards down the right sideline for Ted Ginn Jr., setting the 49ers up at the Minnesota 29-yard line. They got to the 10-yard line, but had to settle for a Joe Nedney 28-yard field goal and a 10-3 lead with 6:25 to play in the third quarter.
On Davis' next drive, he led the team from his own 16-yard line to the Vikings' 13, but the 49ers had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Nedney and a 13-3 lead one minute into the fourth quarter.
Webb mustered only one first down in his first two drives but found a bit of momentum in his third series. He picked up one first down with a pass interference penalty, another on a 15-yard pass to tight end Garrett Mills, and Ian Johnson continued the momentum into the red zone with gains of 8, 4 and 3 yards, but the drive stalled after that and eventually the Vikings turned it over on downs.
Webb got one more decent chance and kept the ball in his own hands. On the second play of his next series, he avoided pressure, slipped a tackle and was off to the races for a 48-yard touchdown run to draw the Vikings within three points, 13-10, with 1:54 to play in the game.
After failing to get the onside kick, the Vikings defense held and Webb had one last desperate chance with the ball on his own 8-yard line and only 9 seconds to play, but the game ended with the 49ers scoring the final points on a safety when Webb was sacked in the end zone for a 15-10 loss.
So what did the second preseason game prove? Not much, as Favre's debut was over in a flash and much of the game was spent looking at the Vikings' second- and third-team players. That's likely to change next week in the third preseason game, this one in front of the home Metrodome crowd.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Favre debut ends early in 15-10 loss
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