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Kaepernick is preparing for his first full season as the 49ers' starting quarterback.
There are many reasons to be excited about this Sunday night game that concludes Week 3 of the preseason.
The San Francisco 49ers are defending NFC champions and arguably the NFL’s best team, but their star-studded defense will be tested in this contest by Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the reigning NFL MVP.
The 49ers came up one win short of a championship last season, but they are expected to be right back in the hunt this season. Leading the way will be quarterback Colin Kaepernick, for whom preseason snaps could be important as he prepares for his first full season under center in San Francisco.
The Vikings, meanwhile, will be attempting to make another run at the playoffs with Peterson leading the way. They will also be hoping to see development from third-year quarterback Christian Ponder this preseason, and he will be put to the test by defensive end Justin Smith, pass-rushing outside linebacker Aldon Smith, inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman and the rest of the 49ers’ talented defense.
Both of these teams have some key new additions to watch as well.
The 49ers have bolstered their secondary this offseason by signing former All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and drafting free safety Eric Reid with their first-round pick. They also added another big playmaker to their offense in wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
The Vikings offense added two big playmakers of their own in veteran wideout Greg Jennings and rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. This game will also showcase two defensive rookies for Minnesota, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, both of whom have huge potential.
There will be a number of key players not playing in this game, however. The 49ers are already down wide receiver Michael Crabtree and cornerback Chris Culliver, who will sidelined by injuries for at least most of the regular season. Inside linebacker Patrick Willis is also out for the preseason with a slight hand fracture.
Peterson is also unlikely to play more than one or two series, even though it is a Week 3 contest. He's less than two years removed from a torn ACL, and the Vikings shouldn’t be taking unnecessary chances with their superstar running back before the regular season begins.
Nonetheless, the talent on both of these NFC playoff teams from last season makes this a contest well worth watching. It could well be a first glimpse of the season of a league MVP or a Super Bowl champion.
Dan Hope is an NFL draft featured columnist for Bleacher Report.