When defensive coordinator Vic Fangio spoke Thursday, he warned of Christain Ponder's speed and scrambling ability, and his players parroted that point throughout the week. But talking about it didn't help in the first half in Minnesota.
Ponder, the Vikings' second-year quarterback, scrambled through the gut of the 49ers vaunted run defense for a 23-yard touchdown in the second quarter to put Minnesota up 14-3, and his ability to scramble and elongate plays has killed the 49ers early on. Ponder has 143 passing yards at the half and 34 yards on the ground.
Last year, it took opponents 16 games to get a rushing touchdown against the 49ers. Ponder's came in the second quarter in which he darted up the middle of fought through a Dashon Goldson tackle to get into the end zone. Ponder and the Vikings also engineered a drive in the final 54 seconds that set up a 52-yard field goal as the half expired to put the Vikings up 17-3.
The 49ers, meanwhile, had two long drives in the opening half. But they couldn't get inside the 20-yard line on either, and David Akers' field goal attempt from 43 yards was blocked as the Vikings surged through the middle of the 49ers line.
Alex Smith is 13-19 for 90 yards. Randy Moss, meanwhile, was targeted five times in the first half, equaling the total number of targets for the first two games. He caught two passes for 15 yards and had a drop that got a big reaction from the crowd.
The 49ers' 17-3 deficit is their biggest since trailing Week 4 in Philadelphia last year, a game the 49ers eventually won.
-- Matt Barrows