Week 3: 49ers-Vikings matchup

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

San Francisco at Minnesota
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minn. - TV: FOX; DirecTV: 706
*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
*Keys to the game: Adrian Peterson said last week that he's about 95 percent of his pre-injury self. The Vikings need every percent they can get against San Francisco's stifling run defense. Peterson averaged just 3.8 yards per carry against a far inferior Colts defense, and the 49ers' linebackers have the coverage ability to stay on the field and be menacing for all three downs. The underneath passing game is key for QB Christian Ponder, who completed 12 passes to WR Percy Harvin last week but for only 8.7 yards per catch. The Vikings must find some yards after the catch in order to move the ball with any consistency. Minnesota also wants to control the clock with San Francisco's offense suddenly looking very balanced. QB Alex Smith is beginning to stretch the field more, and if the Vikings don't generate a few turnovers to generate additional possessions this one could get out of hand.
*Matchup to watch - 49ers LG Mike Iupati vs. Vikings NT Letroy Guion: The former understudy to under tackle Kevin Williams, Guion is making the transition to nose tackle. The Vikings' run defense has been the same since Pat Williams retired after the 2010 season, and Guion will have his hands full with Iupati, a 6-5, 331-pound road grader who RB Frank Gore loves to run behind.
*Player spotlight - Vikings CB A.J. Jefferson: The 49ers are familiar with Jefferson, a third-year player acquired from Arizona just before the start of the season. At 6-1, 190, he has good size but is still learning the Vikings' defense and did not get into last week's game.
*Fast facts: The 49ers are 12-0 when Smith has a 100-plus passer rating. ... Vikings DE Jared Allen has 32 sacks in his past 27 games.
The 49ers have it rolling on both sides of the ball and have already knocked off a pair of likely NFC contenders. Minnesota must run effectively and protect the ball to be competitive - two tasks that aren't easy against San Francisco's defense.
*Our pick: 49ers 30-16

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