The San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings square off Sunday evening in the third preseason game of the year. It is viewed by most as the dress rehearsal game with starters playing through the first half, and potentially into the third quarter.
During the regular season, we’ll talk with the opposing team’s blog to get a handle on their team, and preview various matchups. For preseason games, we are doing things a little bit different. Matchups are not as big a deal because teams use the preseason to prepare their teams rather than win games. There is less game-planning against the opposing team, and more game-planning to see what your various positional units can do.
With that in mind, I chatted with Daily Norseman editor Christopher Gates, and we talked about players to watch. He broke down offensive and defensive players facing the chopping block who could be decent waiver options. He then offered up a couple players worth watching when the fourth quarter arrives. We’ll have some unknown players on the field who likely will be either out of the NFL or on a practice squad when Week 1 of the regular season arrives. It helps to know who we’re watching.
Vikings offensive bubble player to watch
There's still a fight for spots in the Vikings' rebuilding project on the offensive line. The starters appear to be pretty well set, provided they can all get healthy and on the field together, and at least a couple of backup spots are set. But it's time for Vikings fans to keep an eye on players like Zac Kerin, Danny Isidora, Willie Beavers, and even T.J. Clemmings as we get further on in the game. Clemmings might be a lost cause already, but the other players are still in a fight for a roster spot.
Vikings defensive bubble player to watch
I think we've gotten to the point where we can't call Tashawn Bower a "bubble player" any more, but with as much talent as the Vikings have on their defensive line, he's definitely towards the bottom of the depth chart at this point. An undrafted free agent from LSU, Bower has been crushing everything in his path while playing against backups over the past couple of weeks, and it remains to be seen if he's going to move up at all. Still, he's been fun to watch, and at this point it's hard to see him not making the 53.
Vikings player to watch in the fourth quarter
The Vikings have, apparently, not been impressed with the performance of Taylor Heinicke in the third string quarterback role these past couple of weeks, so they signed former University of Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner earlier this week. Leidner never exactly lit it up with the Gophers, but has enough size and athletic ability where he might be able to stick as a developmental type of player. I'm not sure how many snaps he's going to get, but he could be someone to keep an eye on if Mike Zimmer wants to throw him out there.