The San Francisco 49ers and the rest of the NFL will get their first look of the season at reigning MVP Adrian Peterson as they host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night at Candlestick Park.
It’s the third game of the preseason for both, and while the starters typically get more action, the Vikings will probably use Peterson for one or two series total, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
In Peterson’s absence, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier has deployed Joe Banyard and Toby Gerhart. Banyard had 47 yards and a touchdown in Minnesota’s 20-17 loss to Buffalo last week.
In two games, Banyard has 55 yards total, but most came from a 38-yard sprint versus the Bills. Fourth-year back Gerhart has 30 yards on 10 attempts, one less than Banyard.
But the main battle in Minnesota pits Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. As of now, the former Chief and Patriot has taken the most snaps, going 16-for-27 for 241 yards with one score and an interception. While underwhelming former first-round pick Ponder has completed six passes on 14 attempts for 68 yards and a pick.
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How both mesh with new receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings, could be a huge deciding factor.
Another matchup to watch is the one brewing between corners Marcus Sherels and Bobby Felder. The undrafted rookie Felder is second on the team in tackles with 10 total tackles, but Sherels has played a dual role as a return specialist.
On the flip side, San Francisco young linebackers Nick Moody and Nathan Stupar are leading the team in tackles this preseason. Moody has 16, Stupar 12. It seems both can help the 49ers maintain their hold as one of the top defenses in the NFC by providing some depth.
Like Peterson, Sunday is the chance for the 49ers to get an extended look at last season’s upstart quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has only played in two series since the Super Bowl.
San Francisco is 1-1 in the preseason, including last week’s 15-13 win over Kansas City. Starting running back Frank Gore rushed for 54 yards on two attempts, but the rest of the offense could only generate five field goals, and went 6-for-18 on third down.
The game starts at 8 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available at NBC Live Extra here.
NBC will broadcast the game nationally.
Betting Odds: San Francisco is favored by 3 points
Over/Under: 39 points
Prediction: San Francisco 20, Minnesota 13