MINNEAPOLIS ? Running back Frank Gore, the central figure of the 49ers? offense, provided his team with one carry Sunday.
Gore aggravated his right ankle injury on his first touch of the game, and the 49ers had to rely on rookie Glen Coffee for the remainder of the way in their crushing 27-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome.
And Coffee was not satisfied with his performance.
?I felt I should?ve been ready for the start of the game,? said Coffee, who had just 16 yards on nine carries in the first half. He left the game briefly in the first quarter after getting the wind knocked out of him.
?I didn?t do what I needed to do in the first half. I have to be ready when the game starts.?
Coffee finished with 54 yards on 25 carries, as the 49ers were unable to consistently get their run game going. After the 49ers took a 24-20 lead with eight minutes remaining, Coffee had minus-1 yard on five carries as they could not produce a first down on their final two drives.
Gore took part in limited practice during the week, but the 49ers believed he would be able to play effectively Sunday. Coach Mike Singletary said he was prepared to handle any situation. Gore?s injury is an ankle strain.
?It is football,? 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. ?You don?t know who is going to get hurt. You hope that everybody stays healthy, but it happened. I have every bit of confidence in Glen Coffee going into the game. I did not blink.?
Gore?s availability for next week?s game against the St. Louis Rams is in serious jeopardy. The 49ers are a team with playoff aspirations. The club might decide to rest Gore for a week or two to get him back to 100 percent.
The promise became reality Sunday for 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who figured to thrive this season in Jimmy Raye?s tight-ends friendly offense. Davis had a the best day of his four-year NFL career with seven receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
His leaping 20-yard grab of a Shaun Hill pass in the fourth quarter gave the 49ers the lead. ?He made a great play in traffic,? Hill said.
?Shaun always puts the ball in perfect spots,? Davis said.
Left tackle Joe Staley said he was victimized by a leg whip, which forced him out of action in the fourth quarter with a right knee contusion. He returned later in the game. He said he did not know the identity of the Vikings player who got him.
Left guard David Baas sustained a left ankle sprain and was replaced by Tony Wragge in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Dre? Bly (right toe contusion), safety Reggie Smith (right groin strain) and linebacker Jeff Ulbrich (right quad contusion) were also listed on the preliminary injury report.
Linebacker Manny Lawson experienced cramping after the game and received intravenous fluids.
Niners cornerback Nate Clements scored the ninth touchdown of his career when he scooped up a field-goal attempt that was blocked by Ray McDonald and returned it 59 yards on the final play of the first half.
The Vikings kicked a field goal in the second quarter after having a drive prolonged when 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer was called for taunting after an incomplete pass on third down. That penalty superseded the Vikings? illegal formation penalty on the same play.