San Francisco 49ers Running Game Plays Key Role in 17-6 Preseason Win

By Steven Resnick

The San Francisco 49ers ran early and often against the Minnesota Vikings in both teams first preseason game of the season at Candlestick Park on Friday night. New acquisitions Brandon Jacobs and Rock Cartwright led the way with a combined 12 carries and 75 yards and in the second half Anthony Dixon who is on the outside looking in had 12 carries of his own for 46 yards.

In total the 49ers ran the ball 42 times for 260 yards and a touchdown. Jacobs, Cartwright and Kendall Hunter on the 49ers first offensive series of the game played a big role in setting up the four yard touchdown pass by Alex Smith to Brett Swain. Yet, the most impressive part of the drive was the ability to Jacobs to pick up solid yardage in short yardage situations.

For him 2011 was a struggle when those opportunities arose, so that was a great sign for not only him for the 49ers as well as it takes the pressure from starting running back Frank Gore.  He had three carries in short yardage situations including one on fourth down and he picked up a total of 28 yards in those situations.

Colin Kaepernick provided the longest run of the night on his second play after being put in. He used a zone read to take advantage of the Vikings defense being aggressive and crashing down on an inside run, so once he made the fake hand-off he was gone for a 78 yard touchdown run. He added two more carries and led the way with 92 yards on the ground on those three carries.

With the running game excelling there wasn’t much need to throw the football, Scott Tolizen threw the most completing 10 of 13 passes for 85 yards and an interception. He made a nice read on a blitz, which would have prolonged a drive, yet the pass couldn’t be handled by rookie Nathan Palmer and he did tie for the high in receptions with three to go along with 21 yards. Chris Owusu another rookie led the 49ers in receiving yardage with 35, his nicest play came on a short pass by Josh Johnson in which he made his defender miss and picked up a first down.

As for first round pick A.J. Jenkins he had two catches for 20 yards and that included a very nice 15 yard reception, yet there were also two drops.

Defensively the 49ers started out slowly not really getting much pressure on Christian Ponder. On the second play from scrimmage for the Vikings, Stephen Burton beat Carlos Rogers for a 52 yard gain, yet the drive stalled from there and the defense forced a field goal.

The second drive was a mix of nice runs by Toby Gerhart and short passes, yet another drive that stalled and ended up in a field goal. From that point on there were no more scoring threats. A reason for the struggles the defense started getting pressure on Joe Webb and Mcleod Bethel-Thompson.

There were four sacks recorded with Eric Bakthiari leading the way with two and even though he didn’t record a sack Demarcus Dobbs looked very good getting pressure on the quarterback.

A scary moment injury wise happened when Aldon Smith injured his hip and even though he was able to walk to the sideline. As a precautionary measure the cart took him back to the locker room and the good news is the injury doesn’t seem serious and is only a bruise.



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