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Vikings’ confidence came from 49ers’ struggles against teams that run the ball well

San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

As the Vikings prepared to face the 49ers on Sunday, the team that was 3-13 in 2011 noticed something about the team that was 13-3.”Teams that beat the 49ers last year ran the ball well against them,” quarterback Christian Ponder told PFT by phone after Sunday’s unlikely 24-13 win.  “We decided to run the ball.”

Run it they did, with Adrian Peterson getting 25 carries for 86 yards, and with Ponder adding 33 and a touchdown on seven attempts.  Toby Gerhart chipped in 18 yards on eight carries.

Ponder said that the team draw on its experiences early last year, when multiple double-digit halftime leads were blown, to ensure that a potential victory over the consensus best team in the league wouldn’t result in a defeat.  He said they decided to start fast — and then to adhere to the team’s motto for 2012:  “Finish every game.”

Helping the offense prepare was former 49ers head coach Mike Singletary.  Ponder said Singletary worked with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as Musgrave prepared to go against plenty of players Singletary drafted, signed, and/or coached.

But it wasn’t only the running game that got it done for Minnesota.  Kyle Rudolph had five catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns.  “If he’s not in the Pro Bowl this year,” Ponder said of Rudolph, “he’ll be there next year.”

Ponder said that the second score to Rudolph, which came after the 49ers had scored 10 straight points to cut the margin to four, came on an all-0ut blitz.  So Ponder floated the ball before Rudolph made his break to the inside, and he caught the ball with one hand as it dropped over the defender.

“We know they have a good team,” Ponder said of the 49ers.  “We had confidence going in that we could make it competitive.”

The Vikings did more than make it competitive.  Next week, they’ll take that confidence to Detroit, where they’ll find a Lions team that may not be feeling very confident after falling to 1-2 after an overtime loss to the previously winless Titans.

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42 Responses to “Vikings’ confidence came from 49ers’ struggles against teams that run the ball well”
  1. wvaughn says: Sep 24, 2012 12:46 AM

    It isn’t fair that the Lions have had to play one more game than the rest of the NFL.

  2. ripster65 says: Sep 24, 2012 12:46 AM

    Nice job, Vikes! Way to clobber my Niners……

  3. pmgfootball says: Sep 24, 2012 12:47 AM

    Oh I didn’t know the Lions played 4 games already..

  4. contra74 says: Sep 24, 2012 1:13 AM

    Saw lots of good things come out of the Vikings today. Miners are still a damn good team but like that saying goes…”any given Sunday.”

    Except on this Sunday Bernhardt had 3 fumbles on 4 carries! Wtf Toby!

  5. The Prophet says: Sep 24, 2012 1:22 AM

    If Ponder talked like Aaron Rodgers he woulda said Kyle Rudolph could be a “top 15″ tight end.

  6. matthewcarlson1 says: Sep 24, 2012 1:29 AM

    Reasons the Viking’s win today was impressive:
    1. 49ers are the best team in the league
    2. The refs gave them 2 extra challenges and 3.timeouts when it mattered most.
    4. The refs stopped the clock at least twice at the end of the game when it should have been running.
    5. Toby fumbled on 3 consecutive plays.
    6. One of those free challenges was used on a fumble by Toby that wasn’t a fumble. The play was blown dead by the officials before the ball popped out. You could even hear it in the replays.
    7. A Vikings DB got an interception (first in like 39 consecutive games)
    8. Ponder.

  7. borisbulldog says: Sep 24, 2012 1:39 AM

    Singletary just flipped the proverbial bird to Jed York!

  8. dobberdubinsky says: Sep 24, 2012 1:40 AM

    Skol Vikes, if we can beat the 9ers, we can beat any team. Hope the win gave them the confidence they need.

  9. davikes says: Sep 24, 2012 2:23 AM

    In hindsight, the Vikes match up reasonably well against the 49ers, because the Vikings have a decent run defense and a still poor pass defense. But if the Niners can’t run well, they can’t really count on their passing game. Wish I said that before the game, but I didn’t.

    I was impressed that the Vikes actually stuck to the run game, even when the ypc wasn’t all that great.

    Ponder played great. The two TD passes were awesome plays. Considering Ponder has only played 14 games, he’s progressed a lot. Looking forward to getting Simpson back next week.

  10. droyer85 says: Sep 24, 2012 2:28 AM

    It is hilarious when the 49ers lose, I love when Harbaugh is mad

  11. goldrush4949 says: Sep 24, 2012 2:30 AM

    No one predicted the 49ers were going 16-0.

    They lost one game on the road against a team outside the division. BFD.

    Oh, and someone tell Houston, Arizona and Atlanta they don’t give out the Lombardi trophy in Week 3.

  12. drekomp says: Sep 24, 2012 2:45 AM

    What a difference a week makes. After putting forth a pathetically lethargic effort vs the Colts they woke up.

    Percy Harvin may not be the prototypical size of a legit #1 WR but he certainly performs like one. The guy is playmaker incarnate. The list of WRs I’d rather have on my team over him is a short one.

    I’m not going to go crazy and say Kyle Rudolph is a top 5 tight end even in the NFC right now because physically he doesn’t compare to Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis and he isn’t yet producing like Tony Gonzalez. That’s not to say he can’t get there. His hands are fantastic. His second touchdown catch was ridiculous– way more ridiculous than it had to be considering Adrian was wide open on the play.

    Since the end of last season I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that Christian Ponder has all the tools that Aaron Rodgers has except for the absolute gun of an arm, which Rodgers didn’t have coming out of college but it can be developed (Tom Brady didn’t have his cannon coming out either). Ponder is a weight room junkie and has a fantastic head on his shoulders. I’m confident any possible improvement to be had via work ethic will be obtained by this kid.

    We’ll never know how Ponder in year two compares to Rodgers in year two for obvious reasons but if the Vikings are able to load up at WR like the Packers have been able to there’s no reason not to think Christian can be a franchise quarterback capable of taking a team to the playoffs.

    Good lord this grape kool-aid is tasty this week.

  13. joe400e says: Sep 24, 2012 3:11 AM

    IMO this game will do wonders for the Vikings, Ponder in particular, down the road when they’re in a tough game.

  14. goldrush36 says: Sep 24, 2012 3:26 AM

    The only team that ran the ball well and beat them was Baltimore and they were still average in that game by yardage standards. It was more their D than anything. Vikes played a helluva game and executed well but the basis for their “plan” is a bit dumbfounding when you look at the reality of those games last year.

  15. maxl49 says: Sep 24, 2012 7:09 AM

    There’s a reason he caught the second one with one hand ! He was using the other to push off. Regular refs refer to this as offensive pass interference.

  16. pappavike says: Sep 24, 2012 7:33 AM

    They Vikes looked sharp for most of the game don’t quite know whats up with Toby G. and his butter fingers and special teams could use some work as well! Great kick offs, But coverage needs some improvement. Overall the Vikes played a great game against a very good 9ers team! Really looking forward to seeing what Jerome Simpson brings to the table, And if he and Ponder still have that training camp conection going! Keep the pedal down Vikes!!

  17. jvibottomline says: Sep 24, 2012 7:50 AM

    Vikings were incredibly good on third down today, didn’t run well at all

  18. freshnsoclean says: Sep 24, 2012 7:53 AM

    God looked upon this game and said “ohhh noo, not today!” because after Harbaugh cheated and got away with it the first time, the Vikings got their 1st INT & broke Smith’s streak!! Then after Harbaugh cheated a second time, they got sack for a fumble!! The right team won the game, not the team that tried to steal it. Eventually the craziness what happened today will impact the outcome of a game and all hell will break loose.

  19. fwippel says: Sep 24, 2012 8:15 AM

    Nice to see the Vikings get this win. Honestly, while they played well, they still have plenty of room for improvement.

    Ponder played well, but nearly threw a boneheaded INT late in the fourth quarter that might have changed the outcome of the game. And Toby Gehart? Dude, take a lesson from Vince Lombardi and Travis Williams: you’d better not be seen without a football in your hands at all times this week.

    If the Vikings can go to Detroit and get a win there, this win over SF will mean a whole lot more than just an upset victory. This team has talent, but they need to keep improving, and not let this win get to their heads.

  20. lbpackfan says: Sep 24, 2012 8:21 AM

    Setting aside the trash talk -

    Impressive win for the Vikings. This 2012 team sorta reminds me of 2007 Packers in way…not a lot of expectation going into season…but early wins = confidence. Confidence is a big thing.

    Well done.

  21. thepvyharvin says: Sep 24, 2012 8:21 AM

    Vikings ran right into their strength,the run D. The continued power running on long,time consuming drives depleted the 9er D, putting their tongues out and hands on waist much of the second half. Great game plan.

  22. briank1ne says: Sep 24, 2012 8:22 AM

    im a niners fan and i KNEW. that this game was going to be closer than everyone thought. When we played the vikes in the preseason i even said to everyone. Ponder is a good quarterback. And he is finding his rhythm. Good job vikes. you deserve this win. you outplayed a very good san francisco team. simple as that.

  23. eddardofthehousestark says: Sep 24, 2012 8:52 AM

    I admire the Vikings win but Coach Frazier is simply making up facts here. The 49ers lost 3 games last year, none of them due to rush defense. In the Cowboys loss, Dallas’ top 2 backs ran for a combined 46 yards. In the Cardinals loss, the Cards ran for 2.4 yards per carry. In the Ravens loss, Ray Rice ran for 59 yards. This directly contradicts Frazier’s assessment that “Teams that beat the 49ers ran the ball well against them.” I realize this may be pointless, but it’s kind of similar to the Horton thing last week where he made up the fact that the Pats had a “tell.” What is the point? Sure, they won, but there’s no evidence that it’s running the ball that will do it. The Cowboys and Cardinals had big passing games, and who can forget what Eli Manning/Victor Cruz did in the NFC Championship game. I don’t even know if the Giants ran more than 10 times that game.

  24. frk49rs says: Sep 24, 2012 8:55 AM

    let me start with congratulations Vikings… as a Niners fan, I was heartbroken by the loss, you jumped all over us, and earned that win. good win.
    last week in Detroit we got cute at the beginning of the second half with our offence, it did not work then. we started this game trying to be cute, dang sure didn’t work this time. I hope the coaching staff sees run run pass run run run pass.

    with all that said, we still have a shot late in the game and could not finish. even with some extra help. Lol.

    it was 1 loss and should provide some needed motivation tand light a fire under these guys. Our season can be defined by the next few weeks.

  25. rainponcho87 says: Sep 24, 2012 9:00 AM

    As a niner fan, I am happy for Singletary to do well. He did help build the current team. He seemed over his head as a head coach but I think overall he is a good guy that does know himself some football.

  26. vikesfansteve says: Sep 24, 2012 9:18 AM

    Finish every game, you mean like the last Jags drive before OT or the final drive of the Colts? Whatever.
    I think the best thing that happened to the Vikings was Erin Henderson out with a concussion & Mistrial Raymond hurting his ankle. That put in better game time players quite frankly. Henderson’s play against the Colts was so awful & same with Raymond.
    The Vikings used the same run formula a couple years back against the Saints & it almost worked minus all the fumbles & the refs!

  27. panambronc says: Sep 24, 2012 9:37 AM

    As a Vikings fan, I must say that the 49ers fans here are a classy bunch. Your gracious comments in spite of your disappointment is something even Vikings fans can learn from. Thanks.

  28. ngbradley says: Sep 24, 2012 9:43 AM

    Wait?

    Ran well? no they didn’t The Vikings didn’t run well at all – Peterson had 3.4 yards per carry. Gerhart – 2.3. They didn’t do much at all on the ground — the league average right now is 4.06.

    That’s horrible analysis. The real reason the Vikings won: phenomenal third down quarterback play by Ponder. 8/15 on 3rd and 4th Down. They were 36% on the season before this.

    I can’t count the number of passes Ponder completed while on the run, often throwing across his body. Great game by Ponder, but its neither repeatable nor a blueprint to beat the 49ers.

  29. brewdogg says: Sep 24, 2012 9:53 AM

    panambronc says: Sep 24, 2012 9:37 AM

    As a Vikings fan, I must say that the 49ers fans here are a classy bunch. Your gracious comments in spite of your disappointment is something even Vikings fans can learn from. Thanks.
    —————————————

    Agreed. There are a lot of SF fans on this thread that I think I would enjoy sitting down and talking football with.

  30. oaktown49er says: Sep 24, 2012 10:46 AM

    As a Niner fan, I was surprised that Ponder didn’t play better last year. I thought coming out of college that he was a winner. He was very impressive on Sunday. I hate to start a love fest here, but to those who say the Niner fans are classy that’s because:
    1) The Vikings won this game fair and square. We have no excuses.
    2) The Vikings and their coach are all likable. We wish nothing but good luck to u guys and I hope u win the North.
    Harbaugh likes his teams to have an “us against the world mentality”, this only works when the 49ers r not the favorite. Next Sunday cannot get here soon enough.

  31. paythevig says: Sep 24, 2012 10:50 AM

    Niner fan here,

    A lot of folks are going to make excuses as to why the 49ers lost the game as opposed to the Vikings handedly winning the game.

    After watching your opening drive, i knew this would be no easy task.

    Your team came out to play, and took exactly what the defense gave you – you exposed our vulnerability against the TE and executed one hell of a gameplan.

    You guys definitely raised my bloodpressure, and ruined the rest of my evening, but my hat goes off to losing to the better team.

    (please beat the rest of our division) – good luck fellas.

  32. 49erstim says: Sep 24, 2012 10:57 AM

    The 49ers came into this game like they just expected the Vikes to acknowledge their greatness and roll over. That didn’t happen. Instead the Vikings came out with energy and a solid gameplan and executed. Well done. They played a LOT better than I expected and Ponder is gonna be a force to be reckoned with if he keeps improving at this rate. He is the best QB that nobody is talking about.

    I take exception to the comment about the running game.. Kudos for sticking with it, but it wasn’t working. The injury to Sopoaga in the 4th helped a little with some bigger gains, but that didn’t really have an effect on the outcome of the game….however AD was getting 2 yard gains being hit at the line of scrimmage. At less than 100 percent that is impressive! He is regaining that power QUICKLY. I came away with some respect for this team.

  33. zn0rseman says: Sep 24, 2012 11:01 AM

    I am still confused by the Vikings and I’m not prepared to celebrate anything yet. They lost to the Colts with a rookie QB just a week ago. Granted the officials in the Indy game were horrifically one-sided, but they still should have won that game. Losing a game like that is inexcusable.

    So which team are the Vikings?

    The won who lost to a pathetic Colts team, or one that convincingly beat the 49ers who are considered one of the top teams in football?

  34. musicman495 says: Sep 24, 2012 11:34 AM

    I can’t decide if my favorite play was watching big mouth Dante Whitner getting abused by the same tight end for two touchdowns, or watching big mouth Dante Whitner dropping an interception and throwing his helmet.

  35. brewdogg says: Sep 24, 2012 12:02 PM

    zn0rseman says: Sep 24, 2012 11:01 AM

    I am still confused by the Vikings and I’m not prepared to celebrate anything yet. They lost to the Colts with a rookie QB just a week ago. Granted the officials in the Indy game were horrifically one-sided, but they still should have won that game. Losing a game like that is inexcusable.

    So which team are the Vikings?

    The won who lost to a pathetic Colts team, or one that convincingly beat the 49ers who are considered one of the top teams in football?
    ——————————————

    I think you are missing the random, cliche “any-given-sunday” aspect of the game. All the dumb luck and fate crap aside, momentum plays a huge role in what is a very emotional game.

    Look at what has already happened. Min beats Jax and loses to Indy, but Jax beats Indy. SF beats GB and loses to Min, so what happens if GB beats Min? Who is the better team?

  36. thankheavenfornumberseven says: Sep 24, 2012 12:14 PM

    I wonder how badly we would have beaten them if Adrian wouldn’t have given them that extra motivation by saying they haven’t seen a running game like ours?

  37. ndirish10 says: Sep 24, 2012 12:53 PM

    Niner fan here. Vikings wanted it more and came to play. No more, no less. Although I do believe that Harbaugh is doing a great job as 49ers head coach, I do miss the sideline emotional control of the late Great head coach Bill Walsh, George Seifert, and Steve Mariucci.

  38. surferbum01 says: Sep 24, 2012 2:11 PM

    Vikings played one heck of a game and Ponder did an outstanding job. Not sure why this article was talking about “running the ball” and how the 49ers had trouble with run-oriented offenses. Huh? They didn’t let a single rushing TD happen until almost the end of the season and not to mention a 100 yard rusher. How is that having trouble with a run-oriented offense.

    But with all credit to the Vikes due…..talking like the team was looking past the Vikes is crazy. I saw a 49ers team that was listless, slow and tired. From coaches to players I saw ZERO enthusiasm typical to that team. Because I fly a lot in my career I know jet-lag when I see it and those boys had jet-lag. There should be a better performance versus NY this Sunday.

  39. purpleguy says: Sep 24, 2012 3:51 PM

    The 49ers fans on this article sure have class — maybe they could teach their ESPN-blogging brethren a thing or two.

  40. toes110 says: Sep 24, 2012 9:03 PM

    Wow, I dont even know what to say.. As a vikings fan, I am so used to nothing but reading sh*t talking from another team after a game.. but you niners fans are really quite impressive, (49ers were my pick to lift the trophy this year in my pick em league). nothing but good things to say about your team, or you fans… really impressive…

  41. jnova80 says: Sep 25, 2012 12:55 AM

    purpleguy says: Sep 24, 2012 3:51 PM

    The 49ers fans on this article sure have class — maybe they could teach their ESPN-blogging brethren a thing or two.

    —————————————————

    Every fan of every team on that site is a douche, haha. Congrats on the win, hopefully my Niners will learn to not take any team lightly for now on.

  42. alldayvikesfan says: Sep 25, 2012 10:03 PM

    Respect to the 49er fans with a positive response to the Vikes win, niners have a great team and hopefully we meet again!

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