Practice And Wait, Gus

Gus Frerotte took all of the snaps with the first team Wednesday and, from what VU is hearing, is doing so as the anticipated starter for Sunday's game with the 49ers. But, he isn't counting his chickens just yet.

One of the good things of having a coach who played more than a decade in the NFL is that he understands the mindset of players under his charge. The down side of that is, as a player who played hurt, if a key component to his team says he's ready to go, the thought process of the player may take precedence to the thought process of a coach.

That is the dilemma facing Mike Tice this week. Daunte Culpepper continues to show improvement from the three fractured transverse process bones in his back, but, as of Wednesday, his work was being done running in a swimming pool, not on the practice field.

Frerotte took all the snaps Wednesday and is going into the rest of the week on the assumption he will start. The final decision will likely be made Friday -- not necessarily to VU or the rest of the media, but for Frerotte's benefit.

Culpepper maintained Wednesday to VU and others that he wants to play Sunday. But the final decision will be up to Tice. The question before him is whether to risk further injury this week (or even next week heading into a bye) or to err on the side of caution and let Frerotte take the wheel. While it seems to us the decision makes more sense to let Culpepper sit this week and perhaps test his back vs. Atlanta in Week 5, nothing has been dismissed about Culpepper playing Sunday. Like everyone else, from VU to Frerotte, it's a wait and see mode.

THURSDAY NOTES
* Culpepper is still listed as doubtful on the injury report. Randy Moss (back) and Billy Lyon (calf), both of whom sat out Wednesday's practice, are listed as questionable. D'Wayne Bates (foot) is also listed as questionable, but VU has been told he might miss Sunday's game as a precaution. Two other players currently listed as questionable -- RB Doug Chapman (ankle) and DB Jack Brewer (chest) -- are expected to be upgraded to probable by the end of the week.
* The Niners have a couple of serious injuries of their own. Starting left OT Derrick Deese is listed as questionable with a high ankle sprain. He didn't practice Wednesday. Key reserve guard Eric Heitmann is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury of his own.
* Is there such a thing a running back controversy? If there is, the 49ers have one. Several players within the organization, according to a VU 49ers source, have said the team should settle on one RB as their go-to guy. Both players in question -- Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow -- have said they would live with that eventuality, but coach Dennis Erickson hasn't commited to it yet.
* How much does this game mean? Ask FOX Sports. After being stuck with the Q-team analysts like God-awful Curt Menafee for three weeks, the Vikings and 49ers will get FOX's No. 1 team -- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth. For those unfamiliar with this group -- it's been awhile for Vikings fans -- it's the equivalent of getting John Madden and Pat Summerall "back in the day."
* From the "Rain on My Parade" Department comes this: Of the eight teams that started 3-0 a year ago, only Oakland made the playoffs. The other seven spent the month of January watching several teams that struggled out of the gate in the playoffs. The Vikings hope to buck that trend, whether the Seahawks, Broncos, Chiefs or Colts do -- or the Panthers, who come off their bye week with a 2-0 record.

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