Ladies and gentlemen, it is once again time for us to head over to the site covering the Minnesota Vikings’ opponent for the week to gather a bit of intel. This week, we sit down with Niners Nation, SB Nation’s home for everything relating to the San Francisco 49ers.
I had the pleasure of exchanging questions with Ryan Bainbridge from Niners Nation this week. You can see the answers I gave him to his questions in this post over at NN, and here are the questions I had for him and his answers.
1) The initial injury report for the week looks a little scary for the Niners’s offense, with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Trent Williams all being held out of practice after being hurt in the Niners’ Week 6 game. Of those three players, which one could the Niners least afford to have miss this Monday’sgame?
I would say Trent Williams. McCaffrey is the leader for Offensive Player of the Year through 6 games and has been undeniably valuable since his the trade brought him to San Francisco. But the Niners running game should be able to produce still without CMC. Jordan Mason had a solid outing against Cleveland when McCaffrey got hurt and Elijah Mitchell will be back into the fold to help the rushing attack.
But Williams is harder to replace. Jaylon Moore took the left tackle reps when Williams went down and the offensive line play as a unit took a dive. Granted, that was against a stout Browns defensive line with maybe the best edge rusher in all of football. Still, this offense can’t do a lot of the things it wants when Williams is out and opponents can get push on the edges.
2) Despite his struggles against Cleveland last week, Brock Purdy has had a very good season so far for San Francisco. Is the sentiment now that he can be the long-term quarterback for the Niners or is there still the thought that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan might try to go a different direction at some point?
There is no question right now that Purdy is seen as the long-term answer by coaching and front office in San Francisco. Shanahan has shown more confidence in the Iowa State product than he has in any other quarterback in his 49ers tenure.
Even with Jimmy G it felt like the coaching staff was held back on calling a more aggressive vertical passing attack. But Purdy has been given the chance to prove he can push the ball downfield and has shown he can do it with great consistency. He displays great anticipation, touch, and accuracy. Plus Purdy’s added a level of calm creativity when the play breaks down or pressure is in his face.
It hasn’t even been a full season worth of games, so is there a chance everything comes crashing down? Maybe. But Niners fans have fully embraced Purdy as the future at the position and are excited about what that means for the franchise long term.
3) The Niners are incredibly talented on every level on the defensive side of the ball. If that unit has a Most Valuable Player, who would it be?
Linebacker Fred Warner. He’s what makes everything work. Nick Bosa was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 and has a major impact in every game, but what Warner offers at his position is completely unique and elevates the rest of the pieces on defense.
Warner’s insane athleticism is on full display as he runs the seam with opposing number one receivers and pursues sideline to sideline against the run. This year new defensive coordinator, Steve Wilks, has been giving Warner more opportunity to blitz and he’s shown he has the ability to disrupt a pocket.
Against Dallas, Warner recorded a sack, interception, and forced fumble on his way to NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
4) Give us one “under the radar” player on each side of the ball that you think will play a role in the Niners’ success on Monday night.
With Deebo Samuel possibly inactive, there’s a trio of receivers that could get more opportunities. Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McLoud, and rookie Ronnie Bell will all be given more snaps. Jennings has been an underrated third receiver on this roster for a few years and my thought is he has a big game if Brandon Aiyuk is seeing more double coverage than usual in Samuel's absence. Bell could be a sneaky pick here but Shanahan’s usage with rookie wide receivers has been shaky.
On defense, there are a ton of stars that make an impact but the most under-the-radar starter in my opinion is safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. He might not always show up on the stat sheet (although he led the team in picks last year) but he allows the rest of the defense to play aggressively while holding down the deep middle.
5) Our friends at the DraftKings Sportsbook have the over/under for this one currently sitting at 44 points. Do you think this will be another low-scoring contest like both teams played last week or do you think these teams can combine for enough points to get over that number?
I could see it going either way. The 49ers defense has allowed the least amount of points per game and that could be reason to pound the under. But it could be a rebound game for the offense, meaning Purdy and company put up 30 or more. I think Minnesota, playing at home, will find ways to get in the Redzone and score a few times throughout the game, but don’t see them forcing a ton of stops on defense, so give me the over.
Thanks again to Ryan for taking the time to answer our questions for this week!