CINCINNATI (AP) -- One game in, the San Francisco 49ers' trip is already worth writing home about.Kendall Hunter ran 7 yards for the game's only touchdown with 3:59 to go Sunday, rallying the 49ers to a 13-8 victory in front of the Cincinnati Bengals' smallest crowd for a home opener in 30 years.Hunter's run completed the only noteworthy drive by the 49ers (2-1), who didn't even cross midfield until midway through the third quarter.Cincinnati (1-2) was limited to a pair of field goals by Mike Nugent during rookie quarterback Andy Dalton's first dismal performance. He threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, the first of his career.There were only 43,363 fans at 65,500-seat Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals' smallest crowd for a home opener since they played at Riverfront Stadium in 1981.The 49ers sent them heading for the exits when Reggie Smith intercepted Dalton's forced throw with 1:45 left.David Akers kicked three field goals for San Francisco, including a 53-yarder after Dalton's first interception, pushing the lead to 13-6. After Smith intercepted Dalton again with 1:45 to go, punter Andy Lee ran out of the end zone for a safety to finish it off with 2 seconds left.It was a satisfying start to the 49ers' weeklong stay in the Buckeye State. They'll practice at Youngstown State the next few days, then head to Philadelphia for their next game.An ugly arrival ended with Alex Smith's only good moments. He led a 10-play, 72-yard drive, hitting tight end Vernon Davis with a 20-yard pass on a misdirection play to set up the winning touchdown.Until the closing minutes, it appeared the 49ers had forgotten to pack their West Coast offense. Ugliness abounded.Running back Frank Gore fumbled to set up Cincinnati's field goal for a 6-3 lead in the fourth quarter. He also had a pass hit him in the facemask. Referee Jerome Boger said one 49ers false-start penalty was on "the entire offensive line."The late drive saved them. Smith was under constant pressure and finished 20 of 30 overall for 201 yards and five sacks. The 49ers blunted drives with penalties, and Kevin Huber's punts pinned them at their own 10, 11, 12, 14 and 17, leaving too much ground for one of the NFL's least-productive offenses to cover.Also, the 49ers were missing receiver Braylon Edwards, who hurt his right knee during an overtime loss to Dallas last Sunday.The Bengals were at full-strength after deciding to let receiver Jerome Simpson play. He missed two days of practice because he's the focus of an investigation into a drug shipment to his home. He got into the game on the opening series and finished with only one catch for 6 yards.Dalton had passer ratings above 100 in his first two starts, but repeatedly forced throws against the 49ers' defense. He went 17 of 32 for 157 yards and a rating of 40.8.
The San Francisco 49ers' defensive line will have a new member coming off of the bye week.
The 49ers claimed defensive lineman Sheldon Day of waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday. The Jaguars waived Day on Saturday in order to make room for the return of rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook off of injured reserve.
Day, a 2016 fourth round pick, posted 11 tackles and two tackles in 22 games over the last two seasons with Jacksonville. He played fewer than 30 snaps in all seven games with the Jaguars this season.
Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, defensive tackle Tank Carradine, and defensive tackle Chris Jones are all on injured reserve, while defensive lineman Aaron Lynch missed the 49ers' last game in Week 10.
San Francisco ranks 22nd in the league in sacks, 23rd in pass defense, and 31st in rush defense.
LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL.
"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."
James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.
"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."
Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall.
"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."
Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground.
"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."
For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns.