Christopher Gates from Daily Norseman took the time to inform us of what to expect for Monday night’s matchup between the Vikings and the 49ers.
1. The loss of Justin Jefferson is obviously a difference-maker for the Vikings' passing game. How do you believe the offense will adjust with him inactive?
Jefferson is one of those players who forces defenses to do different things to compensate for his abilities. That’s why he’s such a huge loss because there’s really nobody that can replicate the things that he does. That means that defenses are going to be able to play the Vikings more straight-up than what they’ve seen in recent years.
They no longer have to devote multiple players to stopping Jefferson and can even blitz more frequently than they otherwise might because the other receivers aren’t the level of threat that Jefferson is. With Jefferson out, the Vikings are going to utilize more two-tight end sets and make an attempt to run the football more frequently, even though running the football has not proven to be successful for the most part this season.
2. The Minnesota defense has been rejuvenated under new DC Brian Flores. What has Flores brought to that side of the ball that has impacted the turnaround?
Flores is the anti-Ed Donatell, who ran the Vikings’ defense last year and didn’t really show a lot of variation in his defensive play-calling. They just sort of sat back in a passive sort of defense and waited for opposing offenses to make a mistake, utilizing very few blitzes in the process.
This year, Flores has called more blitzes than any other defensive coordinator in the league. You would think this might leave the Vikings susceptible to the big play, but they’re giving up explosive plays at the lowest rate in the league through the first five games. The Vikings’ defense, for the most part, is young and inexperienced, so Flores is at least trying to do something to put them in a position to be successful.
3. Is there a Vikings player or unit you feel like isn’t getting enough national attention for their performance so far this season?
I know that offensive linemen generally aren’t widely recognized anyway, but it’s time that Christian Darrisaw started getting mentioned among the best offensive tackles in the league. He’s already garnered those sorts of ratings from sites like Pro Football Focus, but he’s an offensive lineman who’s a joy to watch in isolation when you get an opportunity.
He’s drawn favorable comparisons to Trent Williams, whom Niner fans are obviously familiar with, and while he might not be on Williams’ level yet, it would appear that he’s rapidly approaching it. Maybe by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, he’ll get his due, but I’m not completely sure if he’s getting it right now.
4. When looking at how the 49ers and Vikings matchup, do you think there is an advantage Minnesota may have that is being overlooked?
It’s really difficult to find one on paper, that’s for sure. The Niners’ roster is just so loaded at every position that it’s hard to find a place where the Vikings might have an advantage. Minnesota’s offensive line has really stepped up its level of play this season, but the Niners’ defensive front is arguably the best in the league, so I’m not even sure I could give the Vikings an advantage there.
I don’t know if you’d count Brian Flores vs. Brock Purdy as a matchup in this sense, but if we are then that might be something. Purdy has been solid for the Niners, but Flores is likely going to throw some things at him that he’s never seen before, and that could end up being something the Vikings could take advantage of.
5. DraftKings Sportsbook has the spread set at SF -6.5. Do you think the 49ers bounce back after their first loss of the season or will Minnesota keep their momentum from last week’s victory and cover or pull the upset?
The Vikings struggled with a bad Bears team last week and now have to face one of the Super Bowl favorites. Granted, the game is at home and that could give the Vikings a bit of a boost, but Week 6 showed that there’s really no reason to trust this offense without Justin Jefferson, even if rookie Jordan Addison continues to step up his game.
I can’t, in good conscience, pick the Vikings to win this game, and though the Vikings have shown a propensity for keeping things close, I’d have to take the Niners to win by more than that 6.5-point number as things