Minnesota Vikings vs. 49ers: 5 players to watch

5 of 6

Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Robert Blanton (36) celebrates a play against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

4. Robert Blanton

The Vikings staged a safety competition for the second straight preseason, and for the second straight preseason Robert Blanton emerged victorious.

This time Blanton won the job almost by default. His main competition came from second-year player Antone Exum but Exum was hampered by injury and never showed quite enough on-field discipline to satisfy Mike Zimmer.

Not that Blanton exactly lit up the world himself this preseason. He was a culprit in two glaring broken coverages in the final pair of preseason games, and did nothing overall to reverse the impression that he lacks physicality and playmaking ability.

It’s fairly obvious what Mike Zimmer wants from his starting safeties: Versatility, discipline and physical play. Blanton doesn’t exactly exemplify these qualities, but he is strong enough in coverage and run support to hold down a starting job…at least until someone emerges who is closer to the ideal.

Next: A running back