Last Week Niners Live broke down every angle of the game against the Denver Broncos. Our preseason coverage continues as we preview game number 3 on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. We will break down the key offensive and defensive match ups.
49ers Offensive Line & Running Backs vs. Minnesota’s Front Seven
Carlos Hyde will once again try to atone for a dismal performance. Both Joe Staley and Trent Brown did a great job with pass protection, but a poor job of run blocking. Vikings Defensive Ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter won’t make that task any easier. Daniel Kilgore had one bad snap last week at Center and guards Zane Beadles and Brandon Fusco will be challenged by interior lineman Tom Johnson and Linval Joseph. Pro Bowler Anthony Barr will provide outside pressure at the Sam linebacker spot, while Eric Kendricks and Emmanuel Lamur are the middle linebackers facing the challenge presented by fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Brian Hoyer & C.J. Beathard versus Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter
The question on everyone’s mind is; will C.J. Beathard’s performance against Denver (discussed in this video) earn him a shot with the first unit, or will Brian Hoyer solidify his spot as the starter? Whatever Head Coach Kyle Shanahan decides, that person will have to contend with the duo of Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen. Hunter (shown in this video) is a star in the making and led the Vikings with 12.5 sacks, while Everson made his second straight Pro Bowl appearance. If the pass protection is as good as it was last week, then it will come down to which quarterback can establish a consistent flow.
49ers: WRS & TEs vs. Minnesota Secondary
Pierre Garcon will look to battle Vikings Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Marquise Goodwin could have another big night as the status of left cornerback Trae Waynes is questionable after suffering a shoulder injury just two weeks ago (via CBSSports.com). Look for veteran cornerback Terence Newman to get playing time as strong safeties Anton Exum Jr., and Jayron Kearse fills in for Andrew Sendejo who has an undisclosed injury. Two-time Pro Bowl free safety Harrison Smith will be ready to go. Trent Taylor was held out of the Denver contest, but should be back in action Sunday Night. Jeremy Kerley will also be looking for targets. Aldrick Robinson will look to continue his mastery of Shanahan’s offense. The tight end battle appears to be clearing up with both George Kittle and Vance McDonald looking to cement their front-runner status. Blake Bell, Logan Paulsen, Cole Hitukini and Garrett Celek will all be looking to make their case for the final tight end position.
49ers: Front 7 vs. Minnesota’s Running Backs and Offensive Line
Earl Mitchell and Tank Carradine looked good against Denver’s offensive line and will look to build on that performance this week. Solomon Thomas continues to advance, while Arik Armstead looks to put behind his lackluster performance against Denver. Look for Chris Jones to get more reps as the 49ers continue to monitor DeForest Buckner. Navorro Bowman and Reuben Foster will continue to get more reps in the middle linebacker spots. We saw Ray Ray Armstrong, Eli Harold and Dekoda Watson with the first unit at the (Sam) spot, while Ahmad Brooks didn’t come in until the 3rd quarter. The Vikings backfield has moved on from Adrian Peterson, with their second round draft pick Dalvin Cook as the lead running back. He will be escorted by fullback C.J. Ham. Latavius Murray suffered an ankle injury last week (per CBSSports.com ) and remains questionable for Sunday. The Vikings O-line is led by Riley Rieff and free agent signee Mike Remmers at the tackle positions. Former 49er Alex Boone and veteran Joe Berger are the tackles and at Center is Nick Easton.
49ers: Pass Rush vs. Sam Bradford
There is no question who the Vikings starting Quarterback will be. Sam Bradford, who came over in a trade last year from Philadelphia (via Vikings.com) has one of the quickest releases in the NFL and he has weapons at his disposal. While there has been a significant push in the middle by Tank Carradine, Solomon Thomas, and Earl Mitchell, the 49ers are still looking for answers on third down. Elvis Dumervil saw action last week with the first unit and Aaron Lynch could be back in action.
49ers: Secondary vs. Vikings Receivers and Tight Ends
Eric Reid will look to establish his presence at Box Safety. Lorenzo Jerome played with the first unit last week, but Jimmie Ward is expected to be back to compete for the Free Safety spot. They will be challenged by Former Pro Bowl Tight End Kyle Rudolph. Rashard Robinson has had mixed results this preseason and his job won’t get any easier against Stefon Diggs. Dontae Johnson gets the matchup against Vikings number two receiver Adam Thielen. LaQuan Treadwell is questionable after suffering a leg injury last week (via CBSSports.com). This means former Arizona Cardinal Michael Floyd, Jarius Wright and rookie Stacy Coley should get considerable playing time in the battle for the 3rd receiving spot. K’Wuan Williams will look to continue his dominance at slot corner, while Keith Reaser is also expected to get playing time.
Storylines: Trading Places Among Teams
Alex Boone and current 49ers Guard Brandon Fusco, teammates last year, now face their former team for the first time on Sunday. Nick Easton was acquired by the Vikings in 2015 through a mid-season trade with the 49ers (per Vikings.Com). This will be the first head to head matchup between Vikings Head Coach (and defensive mind) Mike Zimmer, and 49ers Head coach (offensive mind), Kyle Shanahan.
Sunday Night will serve as the first of only two prime-time games this season featuring the 49ers, who are eager for a better showing than last week against Denver. Minnesota is expected to compete for the NFC Central Division title. Both rosters will be trimmed after the conclusion of this game. Look for a spirited contest between two of the standard bearers of the NFC.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author and new Staff Writer @NinersLive.net, David Edmondson. Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims