The 49ers wrapped up a two-day scrimmage/practice with the Vikings on Thursday, and these four players are likely glad they absorbed the work.
The Minnesota Vikings probably had an ax to grind against the San Francisco 49ers, especially after losing to the Niners a year ago and then being eliminated in the divisional round of the playoffs two seasons ago.
That’s history now, however, and these two teams aren’t scheduled to square off against each other this regular season.
They will battle it out in preseason action on Saturday, though.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t likely to deploy a lot (if any) of his starters during the exhibition bout, and he’s already on record saying he’d prefer not to play quarterback Trey Lance. However, with Lance returning to his home state of Minnesota, perhaps Shanahan elects to roll the second-year pro out there.
Regardless, San Francisco’s back-to-back practices over two days with the Vikings carry plenty of benefits, and these four players have to feel considerably better matching up against another opponent for a change.
Joint practice with Vikings benefits 49ers QB Trey Lance
Lance had an up-and-down training camp squaring off against what looks to be an elite 49ers defense this season.
The doldrums of camp, going up against the same players and scheme time and time again, can get tedious, and the first-year starter certainly needed to face off against a different group of defenders who were plenty interested in deploying their own scheme and confusing Lance as much as possible.
On Wednesday, Lance managed to hit wide receiver Danny Gray for a long touchdown with the wideout beating veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson:
On-site reports state Lance went 11-of-16 during practices and had that rapport with both Gray and fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel, too, frequently lining up opposite Minnesota’s first-team defense.
The following day, Lance was still feeling the pressure but managed to hit Samuel again on a smart play:
It must have been a relief for the 2021 No. 3 overall NFL Draft pick to not face off against a pass rush and secondary as formidable as that of the Niners even though there was still plenty of pressure.
Whether or not Lance gets to hone those skills against Minnesota in an exhibition situation is yet to be determined, but the practices certainly taught him some valuable lessons.