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Pre-Season, Take Two

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MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-0) PRE-SEASON SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-0)

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Date: 22 August 2010
Location: San Francisco, CA
Time: 7:00 PM Central
Stadium: 3Com Candlestick Park
TV: NBC
Know Thy Enemy: Niners Nation
Gonzo's Prediction: Doesn't matter as long as everyone stays healthy
Final Score: See above

Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre Brett Favre.

Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, what else are we looking for tonight?

Improvement in the running game - Minnesota's rushing "attack," such as it was, was awful last week against the St. Louis Rams, and to say that the Niners defense is a step up from the one we saw in St. Louis is a pretty sizable understatement. This team absolutely, positively must start getting their run blocking down, because this offense can't take the kind of passing attack they got last season for granted, with injuries and everything else potentially putting a kink into things. Not sure if Adrian Peterson is going to play in this one, but whether he does or not, the running game has to be better this evening.

The battle at right corner - Antoine Winfield is only going to play a series at left corner before giving way to Chris Cook, but the battle for Cedric Griffin's right corner spot is wide open. Second-year player Asher Allen will get the start tonight, and he'll rotate with Lito Sheppard every other series. The Niners have a great young wide receiver in Michael Crabtree, but the rest of their WR corps is a little suspect. (I don't include Vernon Davis there because I don't think he'll be seeing a lot of CB coverage tonight.) Sheppard was brought in as a veteran presence to replace Griffin while he heals, but the youngsters like Cook and Allen have made for an interesting battle thus far. I'll be keeping an eye on what both of them have to offer this evening.

Keeping up the defensive intensity - As already documented, E.J. Henderson makes his triumphant return to the gridiron this evening, and he'll be leading a Viking defense that looked outstanding against the Rams, yielding zero points to the Rams offense through four quarters, whether it was the first-string, the backups, or the guys that will be selling insurance a couple of weeks from now. (Remember, the only points the Rams scored came via a punt return.) The Minnesota defensive line looked particularly good, and they'll have a more difficult matchup tonight against San Francisco, even though the Niners are going to be breaking in two rookies on the offensive line (tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati). Hopefully there won't be any drop-off from last week.

Those are some of the things I'm going to be looking for. . .how about you folks out there?

It's about two hours until game time. . .let's just hope for a good, solid game of football where everybody leaves the field under their own power and doesn't have to be put on IR afterwards.