Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers: 5 keys to victory


The preseason is over and it’s almost time for the Minnesota Vikings to take the field for their regular season debut.  That game will be the final one of week 1 of the NFL season, as it is the final game of ESPN’s double-header on Monday Night Football.

Minnesota’s opponent will be the San Francisco 49ers.  This 49ers squad is a team that has endured a lot of hardship this offseason, with many of the team’s stars retiring and question marks forming at those positions.  However, it is never smart to look past any opponent, especially one that has the offensive firepower San Francisco has.

Here are the top 5 things it will take for the Minnesota Vikings to defeat the San Francisco 49ers:

  • Convert third downs.  This has been a major problem for Minnesota Vikings this preseason.  As a team, the Vikings attempted 65 plays on 3rd down and converted only 19 of those for a first down.  Succeeding on less that 30% of those plays will not cut it during the regular season.
  • Keep Teddy Bridgewater off the ground.  For the starting quarterback to only be sacked once during the preseason is a great sign.  However, it is possible that we’ll have different faces starting at 4 offensive line positions, with Matt Kalil the only one staying pat at left tackle and John Sullivan‘s status is in question because of a back injury.  Otherwise, Brandon Fusco moved to left guard, Mike Harris will be at right guard and rookie T.J. Clemmings will be manning the right tackle spot.
  • Run the ball efficiently.  We’ve already talked about the struggles and freshness of the offensive line, but the running backs themselves haven’t been good this preseason.  The team only picked up 25 first downs on the ground and averaged a poor 3 yards per carry.  That could very well change with superstar and former NFL MVP Adrian Peterson in the mix, but that has yet to be seen with this new offensive line.
  • Play disciplined defense in the secondary.  The 49ers have veteran wideouts that know how to get open.  Torrey Smith knows how to take the top off a defense and Anquan Boldin is a big, reliable target.  Sprinkle in young, athletic guys like Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington, and Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, Harrison Smith and the rest of the boys back in the defense will have to be on their toes.
  • Aug 8, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end

    Brian Robison

    (96) reacts during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

    Establish a tireless pass rush.  We haven’t heard much from Brian Robison, but he should explode if he’s lined up against struggling right tackle Erik Pears.  Out of the 78 qualifying guards last year, Pears graded out by Pro Football Focus at #76.  A move to offensive tackle is not likely to make him any more efficient.  We’ll also need to see efficiency from Everson Griffen and the middle of the defensive line to disrupt Colin Kaepernick.

    Those are the five things that the Minnesota Vikings must do to get a win for the regular season opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.  You can catch the action starting at 9:20 pm CT Monday, September 14, 2015 on ESPN.

    Next: Minnesota Vikings 2015 Game By Game Previews

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