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Monday, September 24, 2012
Around the NFC West: Why 49ers lost

By Mike Sando

The San Francisco 49ers weren't at their best Sunday. That wasn't the takeaway from their 24-13 defeat at Minnesota, at least in my view. The first two touchdown plays Christain Ponder made for the Vikings would have been nearly impossible for anyone to stop.

Ponder's touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph required athleticism and accuracy. Safety Dashon Goldson was bearing down on the quarterback. Ponder leaped and was fading backward when he released a tight-spiraled pass with pinpoint accuracy.

Later, Ponder felt the pocket collapsing around him. He shifted from quarterback to runner without hesitation and was gone up the middle before anyone could catch him. The 23-yard touchdown stretched the Vikings' lead to 14-3 with 5:29 left in the second quarter. Again, not much the 49ers could have done about this one.

Throw in the mistakes San Francisco made -- some off-target passes, an interception, Frank Gore's lost fumble, getting a field-goal try blocked, too many penalties -- and the 49ers suffered their most lopsided defeat under coach Jim Harbaugh. They previously lost by 10 to Baltimore, three to Dallas, three to the New York Giants (in the playoffs) and two to Arizona.

Jess Myers of the San Jose Mercury News passes along thoughts from various 49ers defenders. He didn't see the Vikings' running game as decisive even though Adrian Peterson ran well. Inman: "The bigger problems were multifaceted offensive tool Percy Harvin and second-year Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. When nothing was open downfield, Ponder often would scramble away from the pass rush and find Harvin open in the flat. Harvin had nine catches for 89 yards, and Ponder finished with two touchdown passes while producing zeros in two vitally important stats: sacks and interceptions."

From Cam Inman of the the San Jose Mercury News: "Alex Smith accounted for two fourth-quarter turnovers, including his first interception in 250 passes and a lost fumble on a final-drive sack by Jared Allen. Smith also kicked himself for overthrowing Randy Moss for a potential second-quarter touchdown."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Moss thanks Vikings fans for applauding him. As for the times Smith missed Moss? Smith: "He and I have to connect. I have to (throw) better balls there on both those occasions, because those were both key plays."

Also from Barrows: Justin Smith thought the 49ers lacked their usual edge. Smith: "We just came out a little flat and weren't able to get a stop. Hats off to them. They came out with a good game plan and moved the ball on us. We just need to tighten up."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers Mike Singletary's reaction to beating his former team: "I think more than anything else, I was just very, very pleased to see our guys respond to the challenge of playing San Francisco. They are playing very well right now. We are coming off a loss last week, and we bounced back and really showed a lot of character and I'm very excited about that."

Also from Maiocco: Goldson disputes a personal foul called against him.

More from Maiocco: Isaac Sopoaga and Patrick Willis were walking despite the injuries they suffered against Minnesota. Details were scarce.