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The Vikings shouldn't expect this separation from defenders when the San Francisco 49ers come to town this weekend.
Second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh has the San Francisco 49ers playing a brand of football reminiscent of the Mike Ditka-led Chicago Bears teams he played for in the late ‘80s and early '90s.
Led by All-Pro linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman, the 49ers play a fast and physical style of defense previously reserved for AFC stalwarts Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
San Francisco finished fourth in total defense in 2011 and was second to the Steelers in scoring defense, surrendering a mere 14.3 points per game.
Dominant performances against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions to open the 2012 season put the league on notice that last season was the beginning of a new era of 49ers football.
The Packers and Lions feature two of the NFL’s most potent offenses, led by a pair of outstanding quarterbacks. The Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco’s Week 3 opponent, have neither.
To be fair, second-year quarterback Christian Ponder has shown promise, and Adrian Petersen is one of the league’s premier running backs. Opposing defenses must also account for wide receiver Percy Harvin, but those three won’t keep the 49ers' defenders awake at night.
The Vikings needed overtime to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1. They were on the losing side of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s first NFL victory last week.
Even the home crowd won’t be enough to keep Minnesota in this contest. Remember that shutout I mentioned in the intro? This is it.
Prediction: San Francisco 27, Minnesota 0