- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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What it means: The 49ers fell to 2-1 and opened the door for Arizona to take sole possession of first place in the NFC West if the Cardinals defeat Philadelphia later Sunday. The NFC West, 4-0 a week ago, emerged from the early games Sunday with a 0-2 record.
What I liked: The 49ers' third-down offense built upon the progress shown during the fourth quarter of their victory over Detroit in Week 2. Alex Smith and Vernon Davis connected for another touchdown, their 30th scoring connection since Davis entered the NFL in 2006. The offensive tempo was outstanding on the 49ers' third-quarter touchdown drive. Return specialist Kyle Williams had 94- and 50-yard kickoff returns to give the 49ers good field position. Defensive end Justin Smith should make the highlight clips with his powerful tackle against Adrian Peterson. Smith powered across the formation and dragged the offensive lineman trying to block him before hitting Peterson with great force.
What I didn't like: Just about everything else. The 49ers have usually been better than their opponents at the little things, but not on this day. They committed too many penalties, including personal fouls. Frank Gore lost a fumble when San Francisco needed a scoring drive in the second half. Smith threw high for Randy Moss on a couple first-half passes, including once when the Vikings' pass rush might have been a factor. Moss was open in the end zone on that play. Strong safety Donte Whitner dropped what could have been a pick-six as the 49ers' chances were dwindling. A sequence right before halftime showed how the Vikings were the more opportunistic team at every turn. Minnesota blocked David Akers' field goal try, then hurried down the field for three points of its own. Smith even tossed an interception in this game, his first since Thanksgiving last season.
Officiating question: Teams without timeouts cannot issue replay challenges. However, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh successfully challenged a play with 3:29 remaining in the game even though it appeared as though San Francisco had used its final timeout. Officials then appeared to restore a timeout to the 49ers. Harbaugh then issued another challenge with 2:14 remaining. An explanation from the replacement officials would have been nice.
Injury watch: The 49ers lost nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to an apparent knee injury. Sopoaga was engaged with a blocker when one of the Vikings' linemen rolled into Sopoaga's left leg from the side, causing the knee to bend awkwardly.
What's next: The 49ers will practice in Ohio this week before continuing their road trip with a Week 4 road game against the New York Jets.
2hEric D. Williams