San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings: 5 Things To Watch For


Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Week three has the San Francisco 49ers going up against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday with the team looking to start the regular-season 3-0 for the first time since 1998.  The 49ers are running on all cylinders on offense, defense and special teams, and there is little doubt the Vikings can withstand the Niners steamroll coming into Minnesota.  Here are five things to watch for in the game on Sunday:

Moss Back in Minnesota

One of the biggest storyline for Sunday’s game is Randy Moss returning back to Minnesota where he played for the Vikings from 1998-2004 and in 2010.  Moss is 2nd all-time in Vikings history in receptions (587), receiving yards (9,316) and touchdowns (92).  Vikings fans still have love for Moss so can expect some cheers for him when he is on the field.  Even though he has been used scarcely on offense we can expect Moss to have a breakout game with two touchdowns and close to 100 receiving yards.  With all of the weapons the 49ers have on offense, it seems as if Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman are waiting for the right time to unleash Moss in their game plan.  The 49ers know Moss still can make plays and so does Moss.  So, there is no better time than this weekend’s game in Minnesota for Harbaugh to take off the training wheels on Moss.

Moss on going back to Minnesota,

"I’m looking forward to just hearing the Metrodome rock. Now I’m with the away team, and I look forward to a good game."


"You didn’t seem interested in talking about your snaps or playing time. Why is that?"


"Because it’s really not up to me. Like I said, I just come out here and practice every day. When called upon, I just go out there and try to make plays. So it’s not up to me."

Joe Staley vs. Jared Allen

The battle that might be talked about the most at the end of the game is between Joe Staley and Jared Allen.  Both players are tops at their positions at left tackle and right defensive end.  Back in 2009 was the last time both went up against each other, with Allen recording a sack and three tackles.  This season Staley gave up 2.5 sacks to Packers linebacker Clay Matthews in week one but stopped Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch from sacking Alex Smith in week two.  Both Staley and Allen are leaders on their respective lines and play intense and nasty on the field.  Heading into week three, Allen is still looking for his first sack of the season.  Niner fans can count on Staley to continue Allen’s quest for his first sack of the season.

Staley on defending Allen,

"It’s going to be a great challenge going against him. He presents something a little bit different than Clay and the guys last week. He’s a little bit more slippery and longer. He’s more of a savvy guy. He’s really not going to run straight down your throat."


Stopping Adrian Peterson

Quarterback Christian Ponder is developing nicely but Adrian Peterson is still the focal point of the Vikings offense.  Stopping Peterson will stop the Vikings offense and lead to a 49ers victory.  Patrick Willis, who was drafted in the same year as Peterson in 2007, will likely shadow the running back all game.  Limiting Peterson’s yards per carry will be one of the keys to preventing him from getting big gains that moves the offense down the field.  Willis and NaVarro Bowman are important part of this, but the push the defensive line gets each play will help stop Peterson as well and get pressure on Ponder.

The Vikings have a legitimate receiving threat with Percy Harvin, who has 18 receptions and 188 yards in two games this season, but the 49ers’ secondary will be focusing in on him.  Their job will be easier if the 49ers defensive front seven can penetrate the line of scrimmage quickly to push Peterson back for short gains on runs plays.  If the 49ers defensive front seven can continue this all game, the secondary will be able to blanket Harvin and the rest of the Vikings receivers leaving few options for Ponder.

The 49ers defense held the Packers offense to just seven points through three quarters in week one.  In week two the defense only allowed 230 passing yards by Matthew Stafford who was a 5,000-yard passer last season.  The 49ers defense will be all over Peterson and Ponder this week limiting the Vikings offense to just over 200 yards.

Ted Ginn Jr. Hopeful to Return From Injury

Last season the 49ers started 37 offensive drives at midfield or in opponent’s territory, which ranked 4th in average drive start (23.9-yardline).  San Francisco average drive start was helped by the return teams which ranked 1st in kickoff return average with 27.2 yards.  Ted Ginn handled a majority of those returns and averaged 27.6 yards per return.  Ginn also took care of the punt returns and led the specials teams to 5th in punt return average (12.4 yards) last season.

So far this season the 49ers have not had Ginn on the field because of an ankle injury.  He is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game and he has been limited in practice all week.  The 49ers will need him as the Vikings rank 4th in opponents average drive start after a kickoff, which is the 19.4 yardline.  Ginn traveled with the 49ers and it looks like if anything he will be returning punts, which is a welcome sign for the special teams.

Ginn on being injured,

"You just have to stay upbeat, stay relaxed. Everybody else is going to take care of their business, so you have to take care of yours to get back into the fight."

Defending Vernon Davis

The Vikings defense has given up at least one touchdown to a tight end in the first two games of the season.  In week one the Vikings allowed Jaguars tight end Mercedes Lewis to find the end zone.  In week two they allowed rookie Dwayne Allen to score his first touchdown of his career that gave the Colts a 7-3 lead.  Vernon Davis has shown he is a beast to be reckoned with and he poses nightmarish matchups for linebackers and safeties because he runs and catches like a wide receiver.  There is no way the Vikings defense will be able to stop Davis, especially with linebacker Erin Henderson missing the game with a concussion.  In two games Davis has eight receptions for 116 yard and three touchdowns.  Davis’ size and strength will be too much for the Vikings defense and he will have at least one touchdown during the game.