Earlier this week I had a few minutes to exchange questions with Ted Glover from Daily Norseman. I've posted those questions after the jump. We discussed everything from Christian Ponder to Erin Henderson's injury to Mike Singletary's work as their linebackers coach. If you have a few minutes, swing by Daily Norseman for my answers to Ted's questions about the 49ers (including a special steel cage question!).
A couple days before this Q&A, I also had some time to talk with Christopher Gates of Daily Norseman in a Google Hangout. For those that missed it, check it out below. It's 40 minutes long, so feel free to bounce around. Apparently there is a way to download it as an mp3 file, but I'm still trying to figure that out. If you google it, here are some of the results.
It might actually be better as an mp3 because we had a technical glitch that resulted in the main camera focusing on Chris the whole time, with Chris and myself in smaller side-by-side cameras below. Either way, it was a fun discussion and I encourage you to check out at least a few minutes of it when you get time. I'm hoping to do preview Hangouts like this each week.
NN: The Vikings got some crap for taking Christian Ponder at a spot many considered too early. He showed some signs last year and is suddenly putting up a high completion percentage. Where is Ponder at in his development and how do you see him proceeding this year?
Daily Norseman: I think the consensus is he's getting better each week. It's funny, but it always seems that no matter who the starting quarterback is in Minnesota, half of the fans aren't happy with him, no matter how he does. Ponder has played very well for the first two weeks of the season. He's made smart decisions with the football, and lead the Vikings on two fourth quarter comeback drives, one in a very improbable manner in week one. He looks a lot more comfortable in the offense, and has spread the ball around.
That said, he doesn't have a whole lot of help catching his passes other than Percy Harvin, and the other receivers have had a hard time getting open on a consistent basis. He's been criticized for not taking shots downfield, but I'm sure if he did and got picked off, he'd be ripped for that, too. I think he's going to be one of the better stories in the NFL when it's all said and done, and the Vikings made the right choice in drafting him. Other than about a four year run with Daunte Culpepper, quarterback has been a transient position for the Vikings, and that is not a recipe for success in today's NFL. Ponder will solve that problem for a long time.
NN: Is Adrian Peterson man or machine? He made a Jerry Rice-like return from knee issues and seems none the worse for wear. He had 85 yards against the 49ers a couple years ago, and three yards as a rookie. How will the Vikings attack the 49ers vaunted rushing defense?
DN: Adrian Peterson is a cyborg, quite possibly proof that Skynet does exist and is already sending Terminators back to the early 21st century, pre-positioning them for the Great Judgement Day. The way he has been able to come back and play at a high level has been impressive and comforting. As to attacking the 49ers defense, I think Minnesota will need to be patient. The offensive line is better than it has been, and if the Vikes defense can keep the game close and they don't have to play catch up, they can use Peterson and Toby Gerhart to move the chains and eat the clock.
They can't expect to rip off 6 or 7 yards at a time, but if they can use the running game to get into favorable down and distance situations, and keep wearing down the defense, Peterson might be able to really make some noise in the second half and rip off some big runs.
NN: Can we get an update on Erin Henderson? He has sat out two days of practice. Will he play, and if not how does it impact the defense?
DN: Well, he didn't know he had a concussion until he went out for practice on Wednesday, and said he didn't feel right. The training staff ran him through the concussion protocols, and he's been kept out of practice the last two days. They'll test him again tomorrow, and then they'll make a decision on his availability.
If he doesn't play, it looks like Marvin Mitchell will take his place, and Jasper Brinkley, the starting middle linebacker, will take over Henderson's role in the nickel defense. Henderson's been having a decent season so far, and I think his loss will be felt most on passing downs.
NN: 49ers fans could not be happier with Jim Harbaugh in charge. But I might as well ask about Mike Singletary. Has he had any noticeable impact with the team, or as a linebackers coach has he remained behind the scenes?
DN: He's really been low key since he was hired. I was able to get a press pass for the Vikes last year at training camp, and he's still as intense as ever on the practice field. His coaching results really haven't seemed to translate, though. Yes, Chad Greenway made the Pro Bowl last year, but the rest of the linebacking corps hasn't made nearly the amount of plays they need to for the Vikings to be successful. Is that all Singletary's fault? No, but the linebackers as a whole will need to have a good game on Sunday if the Vikes have any chance at all.
NN: Give us one offensive (not AP) and one defensive player (not Jared Allen) to keep an eye on and how they will impact the game. And of course, drop a prediction.
DN: Percy Harvin has been a beast for the Vikings through two games. He seems to make the offense go so far, and with the Vikings still kind of easing AP back into a full workload, expect Harvin to get fed the ball a lot. He's deadly in open space, and give him a step and he's gone. On defense, the defensive end opposite Jared Allen is Brian Robison. He's really been improving over the last two seasons, and with Allen struggling early, somebody on the defensive line needs to get something going.
As for a prediction, well, let's be realistic here. The 49ers were one or two plays from going to the Super Bowl, the Vikings were a couple plays from having the #1 overall draft pick. The Vikings improved this past off season, but if the Vikings beat the 49ers, they'll have to play a perfect game, and be a +5 in the turnover margin. That's not going to happen, but don't be surprised if the score is a lot closer than most 49ers fans think: 23-16 San Francisco.