CARLOS GONZALEZ / (Minneapolis) Star Tribune

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh yells at an official concerning the spot of a ball in the fourth quarter. Harbaugh, however, was given two challenges late in Sunday's game that he didn't have.

49ers notes: Moss declines to discuss playing time

Published: Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4C
Last Modified: Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 - 7:36 am

MINNEAPOLIS – Randy Moss was targeted six times Sunday in his return to Minnesota, one more pass than he had seen in the previous two games combined.

For the second time in the past four days, however, Moss showed no interest in discussing his playing time, which again lagged behind fellow wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham.

Five of the balls thrown to Moss came in the first half. As the 49ers tried to come from behind in the second half, Moss mostly entered the game as the single receiver in the 49ers' run package.

"Next question," Moss said when asked about his playing time.

The former Vikings wideout finished with three catches for 27 yards.

Two misses were more notable. One pass from Alex Smith in the first quarter glanced off Moss' hands, drawing a large reaction from the Metrodome crowd.

Smith later had Moss open in the near corner of the end zone. But the pass went over Moss' head as the receiver turned around for the ball.

"We left too much out there – those two plays early to Randy," Smith said. "He and I have to connect. I have to (throw) better balls there on both those occasions, because those were both key plays."

Moss, who was drafted by the Vikings in 1998 and spent seven seasons in Minnesota, was more expansive on returning to Minneapolis, thanking the fans for "the love that they give."

He also said he wasn't surprised that the Vikings, who went 3-13 last year, were such a tough opponent.

"Especially when they are the underdog," Moss said. "That is one thing that is Minnesota football.

"We (can't) just keep looking back at it. We have practice this week and the Jets coming up. We're going to go ahead and watch the film and correct our mistakes and go from there."

Williams' returns – Needing a spark in the second half, the 49ers got one – immediately – when Kyle Williams took the opening kickoff deep in the end zone and returned it 94 yards to the Minnesota 14-yard line.

Williams, who handled punt returns in the game, also returned a kickoff 50 yards in the fourth quarter.

Kendall Hunter had been filling in on kickoffs with Ted Ginn out because of an ankle injury. Hunter was averaging 23.2 yards a return and fumbled last week against the Lions.

The 49ers settled for a field goal after Williams' first return; Frank Gore fumbled on the play after his second.

"Obviously, we needed more because we didn't get the job done," Williams said. "I just followed the blocks and returned the kick for a real nice gain. I wish I could have finished it, though."

Illegal challenges – Jim Harbaugh challenged two calls late in the game.

As it turns out, he shouldn't have been able challenge either.

That's because Harbaugh burned his final timeout just before challenging that Vikings running back Toby Gerhart had fumbled. Still, Harbaugh was granted the challenge and was given an extra timeout when the play was reversed.

"That was wrong, and I should not have allowed the 49ers to challenge the play," referee Ken Roan said.

Harbaugh used the timeout he was given after the first reversal to challenge another play on the next Vikings series.

Et cetera – Harbaugh had no information on starting defensive players Isaac Sopoaga and Patrick Willis, both of whom had to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter. Neither player was limping after the game.

• NaVorro Bowman led all tacklers with 18 stops, the most of his three-year career. His previous high was 11 tackles in a 20-10 win over Cleveland last season.

• Newcomer Eric Bakhtiari suited up for the game and filled in for starting outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks after Brooks was shaken up in the first quarter.

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