First-half observations on Vikings, 49ers

A few bullet-point observations on the first half of the Vikings vs. 49ers on Sunday night:

  • Overshadowed in the hype surrounding Brett Favre’s return against the 49ers was the preseason debut of Adrian Peterson, who sat out against the Lions due to tightness in his hamstring. Peterson got plenty of touches in about a quarter and a half of work, rushing six times for 17 yards and catching three passes for 25 yards.
  • E.J. Henderson also made his preseason debut for the Vikings, his first game action since a horrific leg injury against the Cardinals in December. Nothing short of a miraculous comeback for Henderson. He was in on several tackles during the 49ers’ first drive, three behind the line of scrimmage.
  • The 49ers held out Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Gore is getting extra rest from the coaching staff, while Crabtree missed a second straight game with a sprained neck. The 49er are being cautious with Davis, who has a strained knee. Still, Alex Smith hasn’t been on the field yet with his trio of skill position players.
  • Newly signed RB Brian Westbrook dressed but didn’t play.
  • Even without Gore, Crabtree and Davis, the 49ers had little problem moving the ball on their opening drive against the Vikings’ first-team defense. Smith looked comfortable in the pocket, stepping up several times, completing five of six passes for 59 yards. Smith played the entire first half, but kept it conservative and only threw the ball down the field on one occasion, a ball thrown slightly behind Ted Ginn Jr..
  • 49ers rookie RB Anthony Dixon has some make-you-miss, often eluding the first tackler. He’s a shifty runner between the tackles. Dixon didn’t dazzle against the Vikings like he did in the preseason opener, to the tune of 100 yards rushing and a touchdown, but found the end zone again while rushing 12 times for 20 yards and catching two passes for 12 yards. He figures to get plenty of work in the second half.
  • The Vikings got a good look at rookie RB Toby Gerhart in passing situations out of one-back sets at the end of the half. The Vikings are looking to fill the role held by Chester Taylor in previous seasons with Gerhardt, Young or more Peterson, who has at times in the past struggled with pass protection assignments.
  • Travis LaBoy got his name called a few times for the 49ers, lining up on the right side as a down rusher and upright as well, dropping back into coverage. He pressured Jackson on several occasions and was credited with one sack, but was also blown off the line on at least one run play.
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