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Encouraging Signs from the San Francisco 49ers' First-Team Rushing Attack

The 49ers debuted against the Minnesota Vikings in their first preseason game of 2012. San Francisco came away with a 17-6 win over the visitors, and looked good in several aspects.

Alex Smith started the game for San Francisco, finishing 3-for-3, for 16 yards and a touchdown before he was done for the day. But it was the 49ers' rushing attack that looked particularly good on Friday night. On Smith's last series, the Niners engineered a 12-play, 84-yard drive that saw 73 yards on the ground.

The 49ers ground-and-pound looked unstoppable with great versatility, and its lead man, Frank Gore, didn't even play. Brandon Jacobs and Kendall Hunter highlighted the rushing attack early; both appear to be in regular season form. On a 2nd a short, Jacobs had a long run of 23-yards, breaking into the second level of the defense.

The 49ers' new situational tailback had 4 carries that went for four first downs.

As runners, Rock Cartwright and Colin Kaepernick also got noticed making plays with the ball. While Cartwright carried the ball 8 times for 44 yards, Kaepernick had 92 yards of his own that included a 78-yard rushing touchdown.

The 49ers ground game looked phenomenal, accumulating 198 yards rushing in the first half. What might have been most encouraging was the performance by Brandon Jacobs. He looks leaner and quicker, but appears to still be running like a freight train -- if anything, he's more intimidating now.

His pad level was low, he was decisive with his cuts and he wasn't breaking laterally before getting past the line of scrimmage. It was a strong outing for the veteran and it could be an early sign of good things to comes this season.

When asked about Jacobs in the post-game press conference, Harbaugh said, "I like the way he's assimilating to the team."

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