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49ers at Vikings: What I’m Looking For

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The ‘dress rehearsal’ game against a college homecoming opponent

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This preseason has been ho-hum and underwhelming, just like almost every other preseason. And that’s the way it should be. Oh sure, there’s some key positional battles we’ve been paying attention to, but there’s been no holdout drama, no coaching turnover, nothing that could turn a season upside down pretty fast.

So why, then, is there such a sense of...I don’t know, unease, maybe...all across Vikings Land right now? For me, it’s because of a few things. Things that we thought would be questions, and have borne out so, at least early on. Yeah, it’s still early, but we can see trends, and a couple of those trends need to reverse themselves. Let’s take a look at what things to look for Sunday night, shall we?

Scoring some touchdowns would be pretty sweet. Although the first team offense improved a fair amount between weeks 1 and 2, they still haven’t put any points on the board. That’s troubling, and it would be nice to see that change this week. Heck, would two, or even three scores in the first half be too much to ask? Three probably, but two? Just two? Anyone? But to do that they need to...

Improve Red Zone efficiency. The initial drive for Vikings first team offense last week was a very nice one, going over 70 yards, and it looked like they were going to punch it in. But then back to back penalties resulted in killing any momentum that drive had generated, and they needed to settle for a field goal. The Vikings aren’t going to be a score at will offense, so they need to take advantage of scoring opportunities when they arise.

Offensive Line Play: Lots of talk after the Seahawks game last week about how well the interior part of the line played. It was notable because the starting LG, Alex Boone, was out with a minor injury, and Nick Easton started in his place, with rookie Pat Elflein at center. And they played very well. It’s hard for me to say that Easton needs to start in place of Boone, though, as the projected starting line of Riley Reiff, Boone, Elflein/Easton (probably Elflein), Joe Berger, and Mike Remmers hasn’t played together in any game action yet. I want to see how well Reiff and Boone play on the left side before I’m willing to entertain any changes. But if nothing else, I think we’ve gotten a glimpse of down roster guys, and I really like the depth that Easton and LT Rashod Hill provide right now. The line is in a much better place than it was this time last year, and with each series, I’m feeling better about this unit.

Stop the run: The defense still has their moments in stopping the run though. They were better against the Seahawks than they were the Bills, but still gave up a lot of yards. Although budding sumo wrestler Eddie Lacy only had 20 yards on 6 carries, the Seahawks still ran 34 times for 153 yards. I would really like to see that number come down, especially with the first team on the field.

Make me feel good about Mackensie Alexander in the slot: Because right now, I’m as nervous as someone who’s about to come out to his family as a Nickelback fan as I am about Alexander in the slot. I still think he’ll be good, and yeah that was Doug Baldwin he got rolled up on last week, but if the Vikes have a gaping hole in the slot, it’s gonna be exposed all year long.

Prediction: Still don’t care, it’s pre-season. But come on, man, it’s the 49ers. Vikings 27-13.