Despite jumping out to a 2-0 start to begin the season, the San Francisco 49ers are still being disrespected. However, a win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday might just be enough to earn themselves a spot amongst the elite teams in the NFC.
Even after beating the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals on the road in week one, and dominating the Seahawks in week two, almost every significant NFL analyst is picking the Vikings to hand the 49ers their first loss.
Granted the Week Three matchup will be played in Minneapolis, those who are actually paid to cover the NFL might want to give the 49ers a bit more credit. The 49ers have no individual positional holes and have no weaknesses in any facet of the game.
San Francisco can rely on their defense, running game, and even Shaun Hill's arm to win games (9-3 as a starter). Plus, not to mention the 49ers have one of the best special teams in the NFL. Their punter Andy Lee is a Pro Bowler, place-kicker Joe Nedney is automatic, and Allen Rossum can make big plays in the return game.
The 49ers and their fans know that their is something special brewing under Mike Singletary but apparently the rest of the NFL still doesn't believe in what this team can do. But let's not forget what happened the last time Viking running back Adrian Peterson matched up with 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. Minnesota ended up romping a much weaker 49ers team but Willis dominated Peterson, holding him to just three yards on 14 carries.
Not only was Peterson shut down in that game, but on Sunday his team will be facing a revamped 49er defense that has been punishing opposing quarterbacks (three INTs, four sacks, constant knock downs and Patrick Willis knocked Matt Hasselbeck out of the game) and have allowed opposing runners to just 2.5 yards per carry.
Although the Vikings have Brett Favre, at 40-years-old, the former gunslinger turned "game-manager" by Minnesota doesn't put much fear into the minds of 49er defenders. In-fact, last year the 49ers dispatched Favre and the New York Jets in a punishing fashion winning 24-14.
Furthermore, the Vikings receiving corps isn't exactly the Packers receiving corps of the 1990's and therefore Favre's new receivers will be in for a rude awakening going up against a physical 49ers secondary.
Going off what has been seen through the first two weeks, I'll take the 49ers defense to keep the Vikings offense under 17 points.
However, another issue is that "expert" analysts are claiming that the 49er offense will not be able to move the ball against the Minnesota defense.
The Viking defense which is suppose to be "incredibly dominant" against the run has given up 4.0 yards per carry so far this season and the two teams they've played were the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions, not exactly Vince Lombardi's Packers or Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys.
Write it down right now, Frank Gore will run effectively against the Vikings on Sunday and it will be enough to enable Shaun Hill to make the clutch throws when necessary in order to win the game.
And yes, the 49ers will win on Sunday because they are hungry. Hungry to stop being the butt of jokes, hungry to return this once proud franchise to it's glory days and hungry for respect.
With the way the 49ers can control the game, expect a Shaun Hill to Vernon Davis touchdown to be the game winner, 49ers 20 Vikings 17.