The Minnesota Vikings are heading into their first week of the regular season where they will play against the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers have had a lot of turnover with their coaching staff and roster this past offseason and that can make it difficult for the Vikings to prepare for because they don’t know exactly what they are going to be getting on the field, especially since it is only Week 1 and teams often won’t show too much in the preseason.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, of course, wasn’t too concerned about that when asked about it on Thursday, but he made it sound like the coaching staff has had to dig a little deeper into the tape archives than they would normally.
“We look at (defensive coordinator Eric) Mangini who was a coordinator before, when he was a head coach, what they did defensively,” Zimmer said. “We look at the preseason. We go back and look at last year, especially their personnel, the players like NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks and those guys, (Eric) Reid the safety. We do our due diligence.”
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also isn’t too worried about the additional challenges because he trusts the game plan that the coaching staff has set up for them. He also trusts in the ability of his teammates around him to adjust to any adversity that is thrown their way.
“The coaching staff has put together a great game plan for us,” Bridgewater said. “We can’t be too concerned with San Francisco, because we know that we have a job to do, which is to go out and execute our offense. You know, it is tough, they have a new coaching staff, seven different starters on defense this year. Just try to judge them off of the preseason, but some teams don’t show everything in the preseason. We know that there are going to be some surprises come Monday night. They’re going to do some things that we didn’t see them do in the preseason and that’s where we just make adjustments on the run.”
One adjustment that the Vikings will likely have to deal with during the game is the athletic ability of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He is one of the more dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL, making it important for the Vikings defense to contain him or he could end up having a huge game.
The Vikings struggled with mobile quarterbacks a year ago, and this year contain has been an emphasis for their defense.
Another player that the Vikings are planning on keeping an eye on throughout the game is wide receiver Anquan Boldin. He was Kaepernick’s favorite target a year ago, recording 83 receptions for 1,062 yards and five touchdowns.
Throughout his career, Boldin has been considered one of the toughest players in the NFL, and Zimmer knows that his physicality is something they are going to need to lookout for.
“He’s physical, he’s sneaky in his routes, he’s shifty, he’s a great blocker – that’s difficult, he’s a big guy, he’s good run-after-catch, so all of those things,” Zimmer said.
“Yeah, he’ll kind of shove you out of the way too sometimes. Don’t tell the officials I said that.”
Another thing that could affect the outcome of the game is the time difference that the Vikings have to deal with when traveling to San Francisco. When the game starts at 7:20 p.m. out west, the Vikings will be used to it being 9:20 p.m. in Minnesota.
This would normally be a cause for some concern, but because of the way the Vikings’ preseason schedule was set up, Zimmer is not worried about it at all. “I think the good thing about it is that we’ve had five night games in a row,” he said. “I think we would have thought about it differently if we had day games all this time, but I think it’s going to be more of a challenge on the next week, just because we get back at 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday.”
The head coach even jokingly said that he is not so much worried about his players because they are used to playing in these night games. Instead, he is more worried about the Vikings faithful who want to stay up all night trying to watch and cheer their team on.
“Our guys are pretty much used to the night game schedule,” he said. “It’s a little bit later, but as far as here it will be more difficult for the fans. They’re going to have to make sure they stay up and sleep in that morning or don’t go to work the next day. I’m not asking them to do that.”