SAN FRANCISCO — This is the live blog for the 49ers’ preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings. I’ll be updating this from the press box throughout the game with information and analysis.
5:17 Both Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss are doing all the pregame warmups. This is Moss’ first game since 2010 and Crabtree’s first preseason game ever.
5:23 Four 49ers are not suited up: DT Will Tukuafu, WR Joe Hastings, LB Cam Johnson and LB Darius Fleming.
5:26 All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith isn’t suited up, either. Ricky Jean Francois will presumably start in his place.
5:29 Add tight end Nate Byham to the not-suited list.
5:30 NT Ian Williams should get a ton of playing time tonight.
6:05 Percy Harvin, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen are not suited up for the Vikings.
6:06 The Vikings get the ball first.
6:12 The Vikings drive the field and score a field goal on their first drive. The big play was a 52-yard pass from Christian Ponder to WR Stephen Burton, who had blown by Carlos Rogers at the line of scrimmage. Aldon Smith forced the field goal by putting big-time pressure on Ponder on third and long. Smith beat top-pick Matt Kalil easily on that one.
6:20 Rock Cartwright ran for a 19-yards on second down. Bruce Miller opened a huge hole and Ted Ginn Jr. made a key block downfield. Later in the drive the offense faced third and five, the Vikings blitzed up the middle, Smith bolted the pocket and scrambled for four yards. Good play by Smith. Alex Boone let a blizting linebacker right through the middle, but Kendall Hunter managed to make just enough of a block to free Smith. On fourth and one, Brandon Jacobs gained three yards. That’s exactly what the Niners want from him.
6:22 Hunter gained 14 yards on an outside run to the left. Expect to see a lot of that this season.
6:23 Brandon Jacobs followed up Hunter with a 23-yard gain to the right. The Niners’ offensive line is opening gargantuan-sized holes so far.
6:26 The Niners properly execute a screen pass, Smith to Hunter for 9 yards. That’s a play the Niners have been practicing all offseason.
6:28 Alex Smith completes a four-yard fade pass to Brett Swain in the end zone for a touchdown. 7-3 49ers with 5:13 left in the first half. Smith perfectly threw the ball before Swain made his cut, and Swain beat the cornerback so badly the corner never saw the ball coming. That was a well executed drive by the Niners offense.
6:31 The Niners averaged 8.1 yards per carry on that drive.
6:35 Aldon Smith limps off the field in pain on third down.
6:40 The Vikings are at the Niners’ 12 yard line in the midst of a nine-play drive. Toby Gerhart just carried three Niners on his back for a 16-yard gain on third and six. The Niners have very little pass rush without Aldon and Justin Smith, who are clearly two of the team’s most valuable players.
6:44 On third and six from the Niners’ seven yard line Ponder throws a perfect pass to Michael Jenkins, who drops the pass. The Vikings kick a field goal, 7-6 Niners. 13-play drive. The Niners’ famous run defense wasn’t so special there.
6:47 Colin Kaepernick and LaMichael James are in with the first-team offensive line.
6:49 Kaepernick lined up in the shotgun and fakes a handoff to James. The entire defense followed James to the left, while Kaepernick kept the ball and ran to the right for a 78-yard touchdown. We thought the Kaepernick-James option play could be deadly, and it just was. 14-6 Niners.
6:53 The Niners went no-huddle before that run. Considering this is the preseason, it’s no surprise that a read-option play caught the Vikings by surprise.
6:54 On third and two Demarcus Dobbs, playing right defensive end, blew by the left tackle, forcing Joe Webb to throw early and inaccurately for an incompletion, and the Vikings punt. Let’s see if Kaepernick throws this series.
6:56 Kyle Williams just gained 22 yards on his first punt return since the NFC Championship game. The Niners start this drive at the Vikings’ 40 yard line.
7:00 Backup left tackle Mike Person got beat for a sack on first down. On third and 12, Kaepernick stepped up in the pocket and threw a rope to A.J. Jenkins downfield, but the cornerback broke up the pass.
7:03 On third and four, Dobbs hit Webb in the feet as he was throwing, and the pass sailed incomplete. Dobbs looks like the best Niner on the defensive line right now.
7:05 Aldon Smith has a hip bruise and his return is questionable.
7:13 A.J. Jenkins made a beautiful catch and then followed it up with a drop. On the catch, he got open on an out-route and made a nice diving catch with his hands extended away from his body. It seems like the diving/falling catch is his specialty right now. You can tell corners fear his speed, and his hands are huge. On the drop, he ran a comeback route and would have been tackled immediately had he caught the ball.
7:16 Kaepernick, who had been accurate the whole drive, threw the third-and-seven pass behind Nathan Palmer. Palmer managed to catch the ball but could not gain any yards after the catch, and the Niners had to kick a field goal. 17-3 Niners.
7:19 On first down, Dobbs easily beat the left tackle and made Webb scramble backwards and throw the ball away. Dobbs is dominating.
7:22 Dobbs is beating Vikings’ third-string left tackle Kevin Murphy every single snap. He’s beating him to the inside, to the outside and with bull rushes. He looks like Justin Smith against these backups.
7:23 On third down Dobbs forced Webb to step up in the pocket, and he stepped right into Ricky Jean Francois and Parys Haralson. Loss of nine. The Niners really know how to scout and develop defensive linemen.
7:27 The Niners gained 26 yards on three read option plays to end the first half. James gained 11 yards on the first play.
7:33 The Niners had 198 rushing yards and 50 passing yards in the first half.
7:40 Scott Tolzien is warming up on the sideline with his helmet on. I expect him to start the third quarter.
7:45 A.J. Jenkins dropped another easy pass and caught another difficult one as he fell to the ground.
7:49 Tolzien threw a beautiful 12-yard pass on third and ten but Nathan Palmer just dropped it. Not a confident play by Palmer right there.
7:51 Mario Manningham has not played at all for some reason.
7:52 The Vikings just double teamed Dobbs on first down.
7:56 On third and seven Dobbs beat the left tackle once again and forced Webb to flee the pocket and throw the ball away.
7:57 Prediction: Demarcus Dobbs will make the team.
8:00 Rookie Joe Looney gave up a sack and then false started on the next play. Second and 24.
8:07 After the Vikings got the ball back, on second and six Webb held onto the ball too long in the pocket and Ian Williams almost sacked him. Webb squirmed away and threw the ball out of bounds. The Vikings had to punt two plays later.
8:08 The Niners’ second-string defense is making Webb look like terrible.
8:18 The Niners offense is at the Vikings’ 11 yard line, and Tolzien is five-for-five on this drive. He would probably be the Arizona Cardinals’ best quarterback right now.
8:21 On third and nine, backup left tackle Mike Person got beat, Tolzien got hit as he was throwing, and the Vikings picked it off. I’m calling it – it’s Netter time next drive.
8:27 Harbaugh just challenged a call in a preseason game. Is that a first?
8:31 Eric Bakhtiari gets his second sack of the drive. He’s playing because draft pick Darius Flemming tore his ACL in minicamp.
8:36 Al Netter is in the game…and so is Josh Johnson.
8:44 Josh Johnson makes a beautiful throw against his body for a 22-yard completion to Ben Hannula on second and ten, and then later on third and nine the ball slipped out of his hand as he cocked to throw. Netter played lights-out, as expected.
8:46 Heading down to the locker room. Back at you later.