Adrian Peterson is the key to the Vikings' success.
The Minnesota Vikings handed the San Francisco 49ers one of their four regular-season losses in 2012, but in their next meeting, there won’t be as much on the line.
The two teams meet on Sunday night in the third preseason game for both.
Injuries have been an issue for the Vikes and Niners through training camp and preseason, but the same can be said for most every NFL team. The third exhibition game usually gives coaches and fans the most extended look at the starters of every club. Both organizations will have their fingers crossed when this one begins.
With so many exciting stars on both of these squads, this is one of the most compelling preseason games so far this year.
Here’s how you can watch.
|Date and Time||TV||Spread|
|Saturday, Aug. 25 at 8 p.m.||NBC||49ers (minus 5) per Bovada|
ESPN and Bovada
Let’s take a look at the injury situation for both teams.
Rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is expected to miss the rest of the preseason after a minor procedure on his left knee, per ESPN.
Minnesota has other depth issues at defensive tackle with Christian Ballard listed as questionable as he handles a personal issue. Per Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Ballard has been placed on the active/left squad list.
On offense, the Vikings could be without wide receiver Jarius Wright. He is recovering from a concussion and is listed as questionable, though he has returned to practice on a limited basis, per Craig.
Safety Darcel McBath was placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, per the 49ers’ official site. That’s not the only instance of an undisclosed injury in relation to the Niners.
Tight end Vance McDonald missed practice on Wednesday with an unpublished injury, per Janie McCauley of the Sacramento Bee. He is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Running back Kendall Hunter will play in Sunday’s game against the Vikings, per the Niners’ Twitter account.
Harbaugh: "Kendall (Hunter) is ready to go. Our medical staff has cleared Kendall…excited about him getting out on the field as well."— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 21, 2013
Key Things to Watch
Can Jonathan Baldwin Make an Impact?
The Niners just acquired receiver Jonathan Baldwin in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for A.J. Jenkins. Baldwin has great physical tools, but never put things together in Kansas City. His disappointing tenure with the Chiefs could be partially due to the poor quarterback play in Kansas City.
With the Niners, he’ll have one of the best young signal-callers in the game throwing him the ball in Colin Kaepernick. With Michael Crabtree out, Baldwin has an excellent opportunity to make an impact.
Harbaugh expects WR Jon Baldwin to play against the Vikings this Sunday. #49ers— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 21, 2013
What he does in this game could help get him a strong look from the coaching staff moving forward.
Adrian Peterson is the key to his team’s success, but the Vikings need Christian Ponder to take the next step in his career. Peterson hasn’t played this preseason, but he is scheduled to play against the Niners, per Craig. The Vikings will have a full complement of their best weapons on offense.
Ponder has been underwhelming in the first two preseason games so far. Watching him play extended time against one of the best defenses in the NFL is a good test at this point in the year.
Competition to Grab Crabtree’s Targets
Vernon Davis will pick up some of the slack left by Crabtree’s absence, but Baldwin and other receivers will have an opportunity to shine in this game.
This could be the start of a breakout for Baldwin, Lavelle Hawkins or rookie Chuck Jacobs.
Vikings’ Competition at Strong Safety
On the Vikings’ unofficial depth chart, Jamarca Sanford is listed as the starting strong safety, but Mistral Raymond may still be able to wrestle some snaps away from him.
Raymond has racked up nine tackles in two preseason games, but Sanford intercepted a pass against the Buffalo Bills in his only preseason appearance this year.
The next chapter of this battle will play out on Sunday.
Preseason games are always hard to predict, but with the starters playing more snaps, the better team should still prevail. In this case, that team is the Niners. They’ll gain some revenge from their loss in 2012 with a 20-6 win over the Vikings.
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