The Minnesota Vikings had a less-than inspiring showing against the San Francisco 49ers in their preseason opener on Friday. It wasn't all bad though, as the offense managed to move the ball early on with some solid play from second-year quarterback Christian Ponder, while the offensive line saved its tumultuous breakdowns until the second stringers came out to play. That said, the game was a 17-6 loss, and there are a lot of negatives to touch upon.
Like the Minnesota run defense. San Francisco does boast a strong roster of running backs, but they managed to gash Minnesota for 198 yards in the first half alone without star running back Frank Gore. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a 78-yard touchdown run and Rock Cartwright, of all players, busted off a big run.
Again, this is the preseason, but the Vikings still shouldn't be giving up that kind of yardage on the ground. Guys like Jared Allen and Kevin Williams weren't in the lineup, but Minnesota is a team that likes to rotate its defensive line and these are issues that need to be corrected. As noted by Joe Oberle of CBS Sports, head coach Leslie Frazier was unhappy with the run defense specifically:
"There are some things we've got to work on, our run defense especially," Frazier said. "We will address those issues at camp next week."
Of course, it was the very first preseason game, and they could certainly come out and look much better, but that kind of run defense doesn't just show up one time. The holes the 49ers were able to run through were gigantic, and it will definitely be a point of focus in practice as the Vikings prepare to take on the Bills. Buffalo does figure to be an easier test in the running game, as they don't boast the kind of running back depth the 49ers do.