Christian Ponder was 4-9 with 80 yards as the Minnesota Vikings fell to the San Francisco 49ers 17-6 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco last night. The 9ers rushed for 260 yards while the Vikings only rushed for 82 yards as they were without pro bowler Adrian Peterson.
Ponder made a splash as he completed the first pass he threw for 52 yards on a bomb to Stephen Burton. Ponder only played two drives, but lead the Vikings to six points on two field goals by rookie Blair Walsh. While his 4-9 does not look very impressive, the 9ers secondary was one of the best last season.
Alex Smith was a perfect 3-3 for 16 yards and a touchdown. The main story of this game was the Vikings inability to stop the 9ers rushing offense. Niners' quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for 92 yards on three attempts including a 78 yard quarterback keeper that scored in the second quarter. Former New York Giant Brandon Jacobs had a 23 yard run that added to his total of 31 yards on four attempts. The 9ers rushing attack was incredibly balanced and will serve them well in the regular season.
Toby Gerhart did a pretty decent job filling in for Peterson as he rushed for 31 yards on five attempts. Once again, with it being the preseason, Gerhart did not get as many reps and will not until near the end of the preseason. The Vikings also surprisingly did not run the ball as much. Normally, that is the name of their game. The Vikings only rushed on 19 plays as opposed to passing on 27 plays.
The Vikings pass rushers got to the quarterback for three sacks in the game. Twenty five year old rookie Solomon Elimimiam picked Scott Tolzien off near the end of the fourth quarter.
All things considered, there is no cause for concern after this game. Yes, the Vikings offense was absolutely anemic, but when Ponder was in, the Vikings scored every time. Yes, it is a small sample size, but it is a good start. Expect Ponder to only improve as he gets more reps and continues to play with this offense. Ponder was also not sacked at all, perhaps because of rookie Matt Kalil's strong play at the left tackle position.
The Vikings will continue the preseason next Friday, August 17 as they play host to the Buffalo Bills. Ponder and the starters will more than likely play more than two possessions and hopefully will get in the end zone this time around.
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