SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The familiar formula that carried San Francisco back to the Super Bowl last season for the first time in 18 years is on display again.
Colin Kaepernick marched the offense with six straight completions during a series that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Patton, and Aldon Smith and Justin Smith plowed through Minnesota's offensive line to make plays and hard-hitting tackles in the 49ers' 34-14 exhibition victory over the Vikings on Sunday night.
Sure, it's only the preseason. And there were a lot of foolish penalties.
Yet Kaepernick looks sharp, and the defense looks its usual stingy.
The new look in this one: flashy Lavelle Hawkins.
Hawkins returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter, but he received two unsportsmanlike penalties in the process - one for pointing the ball at a Vikings player before reaching the end zone and another for removing his helmet in celebration. Coach Jim Harbaugh chewed him out on the sideline, and Hawkins could be seen saying, ``My fault.''
There were a couple of other things Harbaugh certainly didn't like - Nick Moody's helmet-to-helmet hit on wideout
After a week of long practices as the Vikings tried to get their stagnant offense on a roll, there were considerable strides.
Ponder threw a pair of touchdown passes while playing three quarters.
He connected on a 1-yard touchdown pass to
Reigning NFL MVP
Ponder went 17 of 23 for 116 yards, a step up after two unimpressive outings and a 28.3 passer rating in his first two exhibition games.
This hardly looked like the Vikings' group that handed the NFC champion Niners their first loss last fall, a 24-13 victory Sept. 23 in Minneapolis.
On the third play of the game, Ponder fumbled and gave the 49ers the ball at the Vikings 11. Ahmad Brooks swiped the ball away and Aldon Smith recovered.
San Francisco then went ahead on a 30-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, who added a 50-yarder before halftime.
The 49ers saw a couple of new players for the first time in quarterback Seneca Wallace and wideout Jon Baldwin, not to mention a familiar face in backup running back Kendall Hunter. Returning from a torn Achilles tendon injury that ended his season in late November and required surgery, Hunter scampered 15 yards on his first carry since the injury.
That first-quarter run gave San Francisco first down during the 49ers' third series.
Kaepernick began the game 1 for 7, then converted his next six pass attempts during that touchdown drive - including four in a row of 10 or more yards. Vernon Davis caught back-to-back receptions of 10 and 11 yards, and Patton and Marlon Moore each had two receptions in the series.
Notes: Rookie fourth-round draft pick Patton (broken finger) played for the first time. ... 49ers QB Colt McCoy went 11 for 15 for 109 yards a day after restructuring his contract. Harbaugh all but announced McCoy as Kaepernick's backup, saying, ``I feel real good that Colt's the backup.'' ... Vikings CB