Over the weekend, the 49ers squared off with the Minnesota Vikings for their first preseason game of the summer at Candlestick Park, and coaches have to be pleased with the results.
The 49ers sat a lot of their primary offensive players Friday, but they still came up with a few big plays in the first half that helped them put the game away. What I was most impressed with in this one was the newly acquired Brandon Jacobs and really the whole running game. Jacobs and Kendal Hunter each reeled off big runs on the 49ers scoring drive. The new power-back of the 49ers run game collected 31 yards on just 4 carries and did exactly what the 49ers brought him in to do by moving the chains on each of his carries. As the 49ers main short yardage back, Brandon Jacobs will be asked to cash in on third down carries quite often this season, and he displayed that ability on a key 4th-and-1 situation early on. Also, last seasons breakout rookie showed that he's not ready to be a forgotten man in this running game either. Kendall Hunter looked like he hasn't missed a beat since the 2011 playoffs when he filled in so well for Frank Gore at times. These two set the tone for the 49ers attack early and helped pave the way to a 260-yard rushing performance for the 49er offense.
As for the passing game, the 49ers didn't really have to open that up too often with their running backs torching the Vikings retooled defense, but both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick had their moments out there. Smith put the 49ers on the board early in the first with a perfect short pass to Brett Swain in the corner of the end zone. Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss each played about 10 snaps before exiting and both were targeted early by Smith but neither played long enough to make much of an impact. The play of the game came from Kaepernick, who took some strides towards becoming the 49ers primary QB 2. He looked a little off on some of his throws, but displayed that game changing athleticism the 49ers coaching staff have been waiting for in a break away QB sneak for a 76-yard score. And although he didn't have an earth shattering game with his arm, Kaep made a few very nice reads in the passing game, especially the out route play he connected with 49er rookie AJ Jenkins for in the 2nd quarter. I'd like to see the passing attack opened up more as the preseason wares on, just so Smith can get better acquainted with his new weapons, but other than that, things went seamlessly.
There was a hold your breath moment for the defense there early on, as NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Aldon Smith, came down sharply on his hip attempting to make a tackle and was later carted into the locker room from the 49ers sideline. Luckily X-Rays came back negative and Smith is not expected to miss any serious time. I wouldn't be surprised if the 49ers hold him out of this weekends game, but don't look for that injury to linger into the regular season.