Daniel House provides his preview of the Vikings third preseason game vs. the San Francisco 49ers. He adds his thoughts, television information, injury reports, and the top battles to watch during tonight's critical preseason game.
Vikings vs. 49ers Preview
Television: NBC (Channel 11 in Minneapolis)
Play-by-Play: Al Michaels Analyst: Chris Collinsworth Sideline Reporter: Michele Tafoya
KFAN-FM 100.3/KTCN-AM 1130
Play-by-Play: Paul Allen Analyst: Pete Bercich
Sideline Reporter: Greg Coleman/Ben Leber
Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman - 6:00 p.m. CT
NFL Preseason Live via NFL.com (subscription required)
• The Vikings and 49ers have played seven times during the preseason
with the 49ers holding a 4-3 advantage.
• The Vikings and 49ers have split the regular season series. The teams
have met 45 previous times in the regular season with the series all
• The Vikings and 49ers have met 5 times during the postseason. San
Francisco holds a 4-1 series lead in the 5 times that they have met in the
NFC Divisional Playoffs.
• The last time the Vikings and 49ers met in the preseason was on
8/10/12, a 17-6 49ers victory.
Injury ReportMinnesota Vikings:
Pos. Player Injury Status
WR Jarius Wright Concussion Doubtful
DT Christian Ballard Personal Out
DT Sharrif Floyd Knee Out
CB Marcus Sherels Family Matter Out
San Francisco 49ers:
Pos. Player Injury Status
TE Vance McDonald Unknown Questionable
RB Kendall Hunter Achilles Expected to Play
Quarterbacks- The third preseason game is the most telling way for media members like myself to get a closer look at the way the offense will formulate. After one series in the first game and the 1st quarter in the second contest, Christian Ponder will play into the third quarter of tonight's preseason game. Ponder finished last Friday's game vs. the Bills with a less than stellar performance, recording 5 completions on 12 attempts, while adding 53 passing yards. The first-team offense failed to move the ball during their tenure and the team punted the ball a total of 7 times on the night. The coaching staff followed early preseason protocol, in which they don't scheme for the opponents tendencies. This week is the first time the Vikings have handled the week as if a regular season game would be played on Sunday. With all of this work, I want to see the Vikings and Christian Ponder look efficient and move into the endzone, which is something the first team offense has failed to accomplish this preseason.
Running Backs- Of course, the much anticipated Adrian Peterson preseason debut begins tonight in primetime on 'NBC's Sunday Night Football'. He won't see extended action, but will see the field for one series, which will total about three carries. The reigning MVP is hungry for game action and is looking to build upon his 2012 season, which resulted in Peterson falling just 9 yards short of Eric Dickerson's single season rushing record.
Besides Peterson, I will be waiting to see Matt Asiata's performance after missing three blitz pickups during the last preseason game vs. Buffalo. Will he see more action or could Bradley Randle hit the field in an extended role? Fans are waiting to see "Pocket AP" in extended action, as he has become a fan favorite for the Minnesota faithful.
Wide Receivers- The first team receivers will see more time this evening and I'm waiting to witness the continuity Christian Ponder and Greg Jennings have developed. Both haven't been on the field long enough to see how the duo will mesh this season. Jarius Wright will be missing tonight's game after suffering a concussion in the second preseason game vs. the Buffalo Bills. This means Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerome Simpson will see more time with the first-team offense, in one of the most crucial preseason games. Both will be working hard to show they are ready to play a big role in the Vikings 2013 offensive scheme. Finally, Joe Webb hasn't seen extended time this preseason and it seems like he may be on the 'bubble' to make the 53-man roster. If he sees a similar role in tonight's preseason game, does this mean his time in Minnesota could be coming to an end?
Tight Ends- We witnessed tight end John Carlson as a focal point of the Vikings offense in the preseason opener vs. the Houston Texans. In game number two, he saw a more non-descript performance. Can and will he be used more when the Vikings gameplan for this game. This position group is the most solidified area on this roster and should be one of the Vikings huge keys to success this season.
Offensive Line- The Vikings starting offensive line struggled with pressure off the edge last Friday vs. the Buffalo Bills. This caused Rhett Ellison to line up on the end to provide more stability from a blocking standpoint. In addition to all of this, the centers had problems snapping the ball to the quarterbacks on two occasions. Given the Bills used a million exotic blitzing schemes, this all could be a mirage, but I want to see an improvement. I think this will be straightened out when the coaching staff schemes for the game and the offensive line has a firm grasp of how the defense will attack them. Nonetheless, this a still a valid concern for this football team's success.
Defensive Line- With Sharrif Floyd out for tonight's game, players like Fred Evans and Letroy Guion will see a more extended role in the contest. The real question is whether tier two defensive lineman will rise to the occasion. George Johnson and Lawrence Jackson are both fringe players who need to make a strong case for the 53-man roster. The main defensive line will be intact, which gives us the first opportunity to see this defensive group handle the 'read-option', which the Vikings will see from teams like the Redskins, Panthers, and Eagles during the regular season. The defensive ends are required to stay at home, as the quarterback has the ability to use several different schemes to cause defensive headaches.
Linebackers- Desmond Bishop will see time with the first string defense tonight, as the Vikings decide whether they are comfortable with Marvin Mitchell or Bishop as the starter. Bishop made his Vikings debut in the last preseason game vs. Buffalo and made a nice contribution. He entered the game late in the second quarter and was awarded 4 assist tackles and was credited with a half-sack. He recorded a nice hit on a Bills running back and is looking more comfortable in his return to NFL action. Tonight will be his first appearance with the first-team defense; can he rise to the occasion?
Defensive Backs- With the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of inexperienced cornerbacks, how will this group handle the 'read-option' look from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick? The secondary looked impressive in a short stint vs. the Bills, but will get enhanced time in tonight's game. I will be watching the comfort level of players such as Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson. Can they handle the different scheme the 49ers will display and are the Vikings in need of more depth at cornerback if a player like Brandon Burton struggles in limited action? This area will be an important storyline during tonight's game.
Safety- Jamarca Sanford and Harrison Smith will see time as the starters and Mistral Raymond and Robert Blanton will follow. Blanton has shown his inexperience during several moments of the preseason, but has shown some flashes of positive play in his small exposure. With a player such as the hard-working Andrew Sendejo clicking at his heels, Blanton needs to show he is worthy of development. If he can, the Vikings may consider keeping five safeties or Blanton may defeat Sendejo all together. This position will be the area to monitor during roster cuts, as the Vikings make a very difficult decision.
Special Teams- Will Bobby Felder handle the punt return job in his second outing, as he attempts to win the job over cornerback Marcus Sherels? Sherels will be absent as he attends his father's funeral, but is respected for his reliability in the return game. Felder has defensive versatility, special teams coverage capabilities, and more importantly understands his role is very important. If he can solidify himself this evening, he may win a roster spot as a special teams ace for this team.