NFL notes • 49ers' starters outclass Vikes in preseason win.
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The familiar formula that carried San Francisco back to the Super Bowl last season for the first time in 18 years is on display again.
Colin Kaepernick marched the offense with six straight completions during a series that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Patton, and Aldon Smith and Justin Smith plowed through Minnesota's offensive line to make plays and hard-hitting tackles in the 49ers' 34-14 exhibition victory over the Vikings on Sunday night in San Francisco.
Kaepernick looks sharp, and the defense looks its usual stingy.
The new look in this one: flashy Lavelle Hawkins.
Hawkins returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter, but he received two unsportsmanlike penalties in the process one for pointing the ball at a Vikings player before reaching the end zone and another for removing his helmet in celebration. Coach Jim Harbaugh chewed him out on the sideline, and Hawkins could be seen saying, "My fault."
Saints 31, Texans 23 • Houston's Andre Johnson had 131 yards receiving before halftime in his first extended work of the preseason, but New Orleans' backups scored two touchdowns in the second half to help the Saints rally for the win.
Around the league
Bills • Free-agent quarterback Matt Leinart signed with Buffalo on Sunday. The Bills later added quarterback Thaddeus Lewis in a trade that sent linebacker Chris White to Detroit. Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel also is on the roster. Kevin Kolb left the Bills' game Saturday against Washington because of concussion-like symptoms, and first-round pick E.J. Manuel is out for the rest of the preseason with a left knee injury. Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy at USC, was drafted by Arizona in the first round in 2006. After four seasons with the Cardinals, he spent 2011 with Houston and last year with Oakland.
Giants • Free safety Stevie Brown will miss the regular season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that he hurt in Saturday's preseason overtime loss to the Jets. The 27-year-old Brown, who led the Giants with eight interceptions last season, was placed on injured reserve Sunday. Brown's injury, which came on a non-contact play soon after he intercepted Geno Smith's pass and returned it 22 yards, will move fifth-year veteran Ryan Mundy into a starting role.
Ravens • Baltimore released 11 players, including former Utah cornerback Moe Lee, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent in the spring.
Steelers • Pittsburgh released 11 players, including linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, a three-year veteran from Utah.