49ers sharpen attack with Vikings rout
Photos: Scot Tucker/SFBay
CANDLESTICK PARK — In the final preseason game ever at Candlestick Park, the 49ers marched toward locking down the depth chart at quarterback and wide receiver.
Rumored to be on the trading block, Colt McCoy solidified his position as the No. 2 quarterback, while former Cal alum Lavelle Hawkins had a 105-yard kick return — and a trio of silly penalties — in Sunday’s 34-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Phil Dawson connected on a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter and added a 50-yarder prior to halftime.
Colin Kaepernick hit Quinton Patton for a 5-yard score and Hawkins’ got his kickoff return for a touchdown before running backs Jewell Hampton and Anthony Dixon both found the endzone on the ground.
The Vikings scored on two Christian Ponder touchdown passes, one to Zach Line and another to Joe Webb.
In the first quarter, Ahmad Brooks stripped the ball from Ponder and Aldon Smith recovered the fumble at the Minnesota 11-yard line. A Dawson field goal followed a sputtering three-play first possession for Kaepernick and the starting offense.
Kaepernick was on point after two initial incompletions and a 1-for-7 start, finishing with 72 yards and a touchdown pass on 7 of 13 attempts.
In his first game action, fourth-round pick Quinton Patton was targeted six times, hauling in a team-high four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Undrafted second-year man Jewell Hampton was solid on the ground, rushing for 45 yards on eight carries. Hampton looks like the running back to keep on the practice squad over rookie D.J. Harper.
Nnamdi Asomugha was physical all game and tipped a pass that C.J. Spillman then intercepted. He very much looked like the No. 3 corner.
Scott Tolzien did not play as he is “working through something,” while Colt McCoy — the subject of trade rumors today, though he actually restructured his contract last night — saw extensive action as the backup . McCoy went 11-of-15 for 109 yards and one pick.
B.J. Daniels and Seneca Wallace completed two passes each in very limited fourth quarter action.
Harbaugh told the media in the post-game press conference that McCoy qualified as Kaepernick’s backup. To which McCoy replied:
“I felt like I played a good ball game tonight. I feel like I’ve done some good things this preseason, but I’ve also made some mistakes. I think that’s part of growth within the system. There’s a lot of volume, but tonight, if we want to focus on that, I felt good.”
In his first action as a 49er, recently acquired wider receiver Jon Baldwin caught two passes for 23 yards including a 19-yard strike.
Lamar Divens was not in uniform tonight.
Not so good
Hawkins’ second quarter kick return was electric, but his high-stepping and showboating during the last 10 yards resulted in penalties that drew on-field scorn from head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Hawkins later made a sweet 22-yard reception on the sideline, but followed it up by headbutting his old Cal teammate Desmond Bishop, drawing another penalty. Not the type of play that will earn a fringe player a roster spot.
Regarding Hawkins’ performance, Harbaugh said:
“He did score a touchdown and had a big catch, so he’s definitely got to do a better job of not getting emotionally hijacked after doing something great.”
Garrett Celek dropped the only pass that was thrown his way and was later flagged for holding during a field goal attempt. He may have played himself out of a job tonight.
LaMichael James (elbow) and Cam Johnson (shoulder) both left the game and did not return. Lawrence Okoye (right knee) was also limping in the locker room. James said he was OK, as did Okoye, but no word on Johnson.
McCoy took the majority of the snaps tonight and Harbaugh later named him the official backup. That means Daniels, Tolzien, and Wallace are battling for the No. 3 spot, but of course this is all subject to change.
The 49ers receiving corps seems more established with a good game from Patton and Baldwin adjusting quickly. The pair are likely to join Anquan Boldin, Marlon Moore, and Kyle Williams as the five wideouts.
We’ll find out in a week if there’s a sixth on the active roster.