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Minnesota Vikings starters no match for San Francisco 49ers backups

The Minnesota Vikings didn't put on a great showing against the San Francisco 49ers, but there are still important lessons fans can take away from this Week 3 preseason contest.

The Minnesota Vikings didn’t put on a great showing against the San Francisco 49ers, but there are still important lessons fans can take away from this Week 3 preseason contest.

The Minnesota Vikings fell to 0-3 on the preseason as they were roundly defeated by the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers, 34-14, at Candlestick Park. The 49ers improved to 2-1 in preseason action.

Letting them play

The game was a study in coaching philosophy contrasts. San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh only played his starters for a few series, while his Minnesota counterpart, Leslie Frazier, kept his starters onto the field well into the third quarter.

It was a risky gambit on Frazier’s part. Although third-year starting quarterback Christian Ponder unquestionably needed the playing time, the decision cost incumbent defensive tackle Kevin Williams a third-quarter knee injury when a reserve offensive lineman decided to take a cheap shot at him. Fortunately, the injury proved not to be serious.


One of the things that stood out in this game is that second-year left tackle Matt Kalil has apparently developed a more aggressive playing style. This is good, as he is already a dominant player at his position, and a little aggression can only benefit him. The problem is that it opened him up to some foolish personal fouls that took place well after the play. Penalties like these simply shouldn’t happen; just ask 49ers wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who was flagged for three personal fouls in one game — two of which were called on the same play!

On the other side of the ball, the defense looked soft.

In particular, linebackers Erin Henderson and Desmond Bishop seemed lost in coverage. That might have been because they’re still working out a few bugs. Both players are working in new positions, and Bishop, who played in a 3-4 defense with the Green Bay Packers, is still getting accustomed to Minnesota’s 4-3 scheme. Whatever the reason, something just didn’t look right with them.

Frazier did the right thing by keeping them in longer than other defensive starters. Preseason is all about evaluating individual players, after all.

Silver lining

Everyone wants to win, and it’s never fun to take a loss — especially not a thorough drubbing like this one — but when it comes to the preseason, the final score isn’t the point anyway.

It’s important to watch these games for what they are. Sure, everyone wants to see how well the starters work together, yet for passionate football fans, it’s in the third and fourth quarters that preseason comes to life. There’s something compelling about watching unheralded players on the bubble battle for their football lives. And Week 4 will be the best of all, as these battles rise to a fever pitch.

FalconsFan0125 moderator

My FF team names are old and immature. But IDGAF. 

Titsburgh feelers or Jacquizzed InMyPants

JVince 11
JVince 11

I really can't decide on how much I like Chris Johnson, CJ Spiller, and Trent Richardson type RBs... they are all on bad teams that if they get behind the RBs won't get many carries... I just.. don't know what to do with them.

$50 Fiddy 50$
$50 Fiddy 50$

Conch what team is yours , bucs rule is gatrbuc right

$50 Fiddy 50$
$50 Fiddy 50$


I just realized how old you are a feel a little dirty for flirting with you so much, you are of age right?? Please say yes Please say yes!!

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

@JVince 11 I think Cleveland will do much better than predicted this year. I don't think Bills will do well though.


@JVince 11  I think CJ is set up better than the other two... because teh East is going to suck dick this year. 


@EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. @JVince 11 

Cleveland has a decent defense. And I honestly don't think Weeden is as bad as people are saying. I'd take him over Gabber, Sanchez, Ponder, Palmer, Bradford, and whoever the Bills are playing. 


@falconsriseup19 Which do you value more S-Jax or Forte? Same question for Marshall or Fitz as well. So I know what to package something around.