The 49ers deferred on the kickoff (for the third straight week) and that saw Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense take the field. They started off with a pass on first down and a completion for a first down. What followed was Dalton going 5-for-5 to get the team into the red zone with 61 yards. San Francisco's defense held though, stopping Cedric Benson twice and holding on third down, with Ahmad Brooks forcing the pressure on Dalton and getting the incompletion. Cincinnati kicked the field goal and got three points out of their starting drive.
If you blinked, you missed the 49ers going 3-and-out. Their first drive started with a good completion to fullback Bruce Miller, but after that did nothing. Quarterback Alex Smith was sacked on second down, and it looks like they did the same play on third down, but this time it was an incompletion to Miller, and they were forced to punt. No runs on that opening drive for the 49ers.
Cincinnati came back out, this time trying to run the ball, and they were unsuccessful. Although defensive back Carlos Rogers gave up a few extra yards with a broken tackle, he righted the wrong with great coverage on third down to force a punt. Ted Ginn Jr. would go on to return the punt 14 yards.
Frank Gore got his first carry of the game, and it was good for five yards. Completions to Josh Morgan and Vernon Davis followed, and the 49ers looked like they might have some sort of offense. Kendall Hunter caught a two-yard pass, but Joe Staley was called for a false start and Smith was pressured heavily on third down, bouncing a pass to Michael Crabtree. To make things worse, Andy Lee shanked the punt and only got four yards out of it.
The Bengals take the field again near the end of the first half, and Dalton throws the ball right to Parys Haralson, who sees it bounce off of his hands. They reach a 3rd and 12 at the beginning of the second quarter and get a completion, but it's well short. Through one quarter of play, the Bengals lead 3-0.