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NFL San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings: Players to Watch

Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings will host the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday in the Metrodome, in what promises to be an exciting affair.

It may or may not be exciting, depending on whom you ask. The general consensus? Experts and fans alike envision the 49ers running away with this matchup, and while the odds are in favor of the away team, the game still must be played.

Here are three players to watch for in the 49ers-Vikings matchup.

1) Adrian Peterson (RB)

This is an obvious selection, but Peterson’s impact or lack thereof will swing this game.

If Peterson can make solid runs, he should open up the offense for Christian Ponder and that Vikings passing attack.

This is not a passing attack that relies heavily on the deep ball, but if the Vikings intend to keep the 49ers defense honest, Peterson must show up Sunday.

The 49ers defense boasts not only the best front seven in football, but also a pair of All Pro linebackers in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

The Niners thrive at stopping the run. It’s their identity on defense. If Peterson can make an impact against this stout 49ers front line, expect Ponder to have some success in the air.

2) Patrick Willis (ILB)

Another obvious selection, but Willis will have the important role in slowing down Peterson.

This has been a matchup to watch for years now, and with the 49ers now boasting a championship caliber team, this face-off gets even more exciting.

Bowman will also be in the mix, but Willis is the primary run stuffer in this defense. If the 49ers take away the run game, as they’ve been doing for the last year and half, the Vikings will be in for a long day.

3) Jasper Brinkley (ILB)

Why Jasper Brinkley? Brinkley is the starting middle linebacker for the Vikings, but this Sunday, his role will expand after weakside linebacker Erin Henderson was ruled out.

Henderson played a crucial role for the Vikings. In nickel packages, Henderson would stay in the game, while Brinkley was subbed out.

Henderson was a solid coverage option and played all three downs. It will be tough to replace his production, especially this Sunday, against a much improved 49ers offense.

Brinkley will likely stay in nickel packages, and could be covering a myriad of pass catchers from the 49ers improved receiver corps.

There will be times where Brinkley will line up against Vernon Davis and if so, he will be tested.

While the Niners have involved more of their receivers in the passing game, Davis is still the key cog in their aerial attack, especially in the end zone.

Brinkley must hold his own in coverage for the Vikings to have a chance.