This week, our beloved Minnesota Vikings kick off their 2018 campaign this Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis. This is the real deal, kids. We’re finally past all the preseason hype, and Mike Zimmer and Company finally get to put rubber to the road.
With that, let’s take a look at this weeks opponent: The Kyle Shanahan-led San Francisco 49’ers. San Francisco made some late-season noise in 2017 after acquiring quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (no relation) from the New England Patriots. There has been a ton of talk over the offseason of the Niners challenging for a Wild-Card spot out of the NFC West. Coming off a 6-10 season, finishing dead last, that seems like a tall task, even with Jimmy G at the helm.
The 49’ers on Offense
The team was so impressed with Garoppolo that he was signed to a $137.5 million contract, including a $48.7 million signing bonus. And they wasted little time getting him some help, drafting Notre Dame Offensive Tackle Mike McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft.
They also signed former Vikings Running Back Jerick McKinnon during the free-agency period and intended to plug him in as the feature back. In preseason, the team was impressed with McKinnon, but unfortunately he tore his ACL last week, ending his season before it even started. It sucks to see that happen to McKinnon. Injuries are a part of life in the NFL, and McKinnon seems to be taking the setback well, telling the Sacramento Bee:
“My main thing is just I’m excited for the process. It’s going to be a challenge, everything is a challenge. Everybody that knows me knows I love challenges, so I just see it as probably one of the toughest challenges I’m going to have to face, but I’m excited for it.”
Here’s hoping that Jet makes a full recovery.
The 49’ers haven’t been gun-shy about spending money on the offensive side of the ball. According to Spotrac, San Francisco is second in the NFL in cap allocation on the offense, committing a whopping $99 million. Yes, they signed Garoppolo and his contract is a big part of that, but the Vikings - who rank 14th at just under $78 million - signed a couple of guys named Cousins and Diggs to pretty hefty contracts, as well.
What does the extra $21 million get them? Well, $4.45 million of it goes to fullback and Harvard-Alum Kyle Juszczyk. Juszczyk (ironically, pronounced YOOZ-CHECK), is the eleventh highest-paid player on the 49’ers roster. Keep that number in your head for a moment, $4.45 million. Now, think about this statistic: 14 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. That is Juszczyk’s career rushing total. Career! Who says going to Harvard doesn’t pay?
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in entering his fifth season in the league, part of the same draft class as Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. He spent the first three and a half years as understudy to Tom Brady. At least one publication thinks Garoppolo is ready to take Brady’s place among the greats. The Sporting News’ Nicholas McGee states:
“His level of composure in the clutch combined with Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme is a recipe for Garoppolo to emulate Brady’s achievements with the team the great No. 12 loved growing up.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like to see Garoppolo do it over a period of more than seven starts before crowning him the next Tom Brady.
But throwing a football apparently isn’t the only “game” that ol’ Jimmy G has! He created a stir recently by taking *ahem* Actress Kiara Mia on a dinner date in Beverly Hills! No worries of Deflategate by the looks of things. (and, yes… the link to her Twitter is most definitely NSFW) Sports Gossip website Terez Owens took a thinly-veiled shot at Garoppolo and Mia, while invoking the now-infamous Nike ad featuring former Niners QB Colin Kaepernick.
Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything #niners pic.twitter.com/qzT9KySotV— Terez Owens (@TerezOwens) September 5, 2018
It wouldn’t be right to end the Niners offensive wrap-up with a story like that, so I’ll leave it with this story instead: The 49’ers signed offensive lineman Zack Golditch to their practice squad late last week, after he spent training camp with the Los Angeles Chargers. Golditch is a 23 year-old undrafted rookie guard out of Colorado State University. Ordinarily, this would hardly be newsworthy. But Golditch’s story is a little different - he is a survivor of the horrific 2012 Aurora theater shooting. Golditch was shot through the neck, just below his ear. Thankfully, it missed his spine and any major arteries. There are a few pretty good stories about what happened to him that night, if you’re willing to do a quick search of the interwebz.
The 49’ers on Defense
While San Francisco spends money on offense like it grows on trees, the same can’t be said about the defense. Only six teams spend less than the $58.5 million the 49’ers will spend this season. By comparison, the Vikings will spend nearly $92 million on the defensive side of the ball this season, good for second-most in the league. This is due partly to the fact that the 49’ers have recently invested heavily through the draft on the defensive side of the ball, and many of their best defensive players are still playing under their rookie deals.
One player who is definitely not playing on his rookie deal is veteran cornerback - and longtime Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman. Sherman was signed this offseason after rupturing his Achilles tendon in 2017. Sherman is part of the Players’ Association Executive Committee, and believes that another lockout is inevitable, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season. Sherman told Joe Stiglich of the Associated Press:
“It’s going to happen, so it’s not like guys are guessing”
Kyle Juszczyk gets paid four-plus million dollars, and the owners don’t like that? REALLY!? C’mon! Hard to believe.
As to this weekend’s game, Niners Linebacker and all-around special person Reuben Foster won’t be suiting up for the game, due to being suspended by the league because of his arrest on drug and weapons charges. He apologized for the incident and promised never to do it again.
At least we won’t have to see him do this:
Reuben Foster!! the rookie out of #Alabama #NBC pic.twitter.com/WNCuEWzFrg— InsideBamaRecruiting (@RTRnews) August 28, 2017
Hi sky Look at Former #Rolltide LB Reuben Foster's Hit vs the #Vikings #NBC pic.twitter.com/5YY0xqV2AF— InsideBamaRecruiting (@RTRnews) August 28, 2017
Ridiculous Quote of the Week
The best receiving group as a whole in the NFL.— Odysseus (@headedforhades) September 2, 2018
@ me if you want, but I’m right #49ers #49ersFaithful pic.twitter.com/4Z9Gpiu198
Wonder if he’d want to bet 14 and a half years worth of sandwiches on that?