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49ers beat Vikings in defensive battle

Nov 6, 2006 - 12:38 AM SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- Joe Montana and Dwight Clark were in the house. It still did not inspire much offense.

Joe Nedney kicked three field goals and safety Mark Roman broke up a pass at the goal line late in the fourth quarter as the San Francisco 49ers posted a 9-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Montana, a Hall of Fame quarterback who led the 49ers to four Super Bowl titles, appeared with former Niners receiver Dwight Clark at a halftime ceremony.

But it was the defense that dominated on Sunday and that was quite a surprise since the Niners had allowed a league-high 33.6 points per game.

The offensive star was Nedney, who kicked field goals of 51, 30 and 25 yards.

"(Joe) Montana was here, how could you not step up your game today?" Nedney said. "It was nice to see all phases of our game working at the same time. The defense stepped up, and the offense played well enough for us to win. It was a good win, something we can build on."

"I'm certainly excited about this victory," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "We're all very pleased with the way we responded in practice this week, but you still never know how the game in going to turn out. We're all very pleased with the way we responded today."

Roman made the big defensive play when he deflected a pass by Brad Johnson intended for Bethel Johnson on a 4th-and-7 play with 1:10 remaining in the game to secure the victory.

"In a situation like that it's either first down, or they're going for a touchdown," Roman said. "There wasn't anyone open for the first down, so I think he just threw one up there and took a chance. I just read the ball and made the play."

The 49ers managed just 133 yards of total offense and were 3-of-13 on third down. Alex Smith was 13-for-21 for 105 yards for San Francisco, which won its eighth straight home game against the Vikings, dating to 1987.

"The defense played great today," Smith said. "They gave us a lot of opportunities and great field position all day. They put us in a position to win and really took the game over when it mattered."

Rookie linebacker Manny Lawson recovered a fumble by Brad Johnson on the 49ers 37 with 12:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. The turnover set up a nine-play, 36-yard drive, capped off by a 51-yard field goal by Nedney.

"I gave the game ball to Nedney," Nolan said. "He had three field goals along with a surprise on-side kick. Also, I thought the special teams overall did a nice job in the football game. I thought our guys played well, but the kicking game was exceptional."

Linebacker Brandon Moore started in place of Jeff Ulbrich and led the Niners with a career-high 14 tackles.

"Our guys just had an attitude today," Moore said. "We started up front and continued it on the back end. We played on their side of the line of scrimmage. We played downhill, and hit them in the mouth all day."

The last time San Francisco held a team without an offensive touchdown was in a 38-0 victory at New Orleans on January 6, 2001.

Brad Johnson was 21-for-31 for 136 yards with an interception and two fumbles for the Vikings (4-4), who managed only a first-quarter field goal by Ryan Longwell.

"Good teams go on the road and win," Minnesota coach Brad Childress said. "I thought defensively they gave us a chance to win, but I didn't think offensively we held up our end of the bargain. It's hard to win in this league if you only score three points."

"They came out with a great game plan," Vikings running back Chester Taylor said. "We came out running the ball, but they made adjustments. We made plays, but the penalties and turnovers hurt us."

Taylor rushed for 96 yards in 26 carries and caught eight passes for 45 yards.

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