Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/24/12

The parody of the NFL presides more this year than ever before. A record number of teams split their first two games of the season.

Week three was no different, providing enough gasps, gulps and shock for everyone. In Minnesota, the Vikings joined the party by assigning the newly named Best Team in the NFL a dose of debacle.

The San Francisco 49ers game-planned to pressure Christian Ponder into mediocrity. Instead, the young quarterback showed his worth by making play after play, throwing 2 TDs and spectacularly running for another.

The former Florida State product raised a few eyebrows last season. He entered the third game of the season with no interceptions and a season QB-rating above 100. Ponder threw for only 198 yards. Though, it was how and when he made the plays converting third downs on the celebrated 49ers defense and controlling the clock. Ponder was certainly heroic Sunday. He will not play a better game this season.  

On the other hand, the 49ers team played their first “average” game in a long while. As Ponder led the Vikings’ offense on several time-consuming scoring drives, the 49ers offense maintained a tiny resemblance of rhythm. Frank Gore rushed only 12 times. Alex Smith missed an easy throw to Randy Moss for a touchdown. The Niners typically make the plays at the right time in all three phases of the game, but they were unable to cash in Sunday.

Known for their off-season moves prior to this season, the 49ers were expected to take advantage of red zone opportunities this season with the likes of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs. After Kyle Williams returned the second-half kickoff 93 yards, San Francisco went conservative; only able to convert a field goal. Rather than punching one in and shifting the momentum, gaining a grasp of a close game; the Niners were unable to make a definitive move after scoring on their very next drive. In the fourth quarter, after the Vikings turned the ball over, the 49ers were two scores behind rather than one. Changing the way they called the game, inevitably changing the outcome 

Sure, it was a road game and the Niners did keep Adrian Peterson in check, but they were uncharacteristically sloppy on defense with missed opportunities and penalties. San Francisco will not perform this poorly often this season, but they were certainly the “zero” of this game.



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