San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil Is X-Factor
The San Francisco 49ers are considered the best defensive team in the league today. In a passing league, that’s a huge accomplishment for Jim Harbaugh and his boys.
This 49ers team boasts the best defensive line in football, with guys like Justin Smith and Aldon Smith at the helm, while also being sound in the secondary. Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings will have their first crack at this vaunted Niners defense today.
Of course, Adrian Peterson will also be featured in this offense, but neither Ponder nor AP will be the x-factor in this game. That title belongs to Matt Kalil, the Vikings 2012 first round selection. Kalil was selected fourth overall by the Minnesota Vikings in this past draft, and for good reason. The former USC Trojan has all the physical intangibles to be an excellent pass protector.
He has a long frame and a giant wingspan. Kalil is also a solid run blocker, with the potential to get better once he adds a bit of weight to his frame. The cherry on top is his lineage. Kalil has an All Pro brother to look up to in Ryan Kalil, center of the Carolina Panthers. However, lineage won’t help him here against this ferocious 49ers front seven.
Kalil will likely be matched up with Aldon Smith, and if so, he has to be ready for different fronts. The Niners like to put Aldon Smith with his hands to the dirt, and rush him as an end. If so, Kalil must be ready to hold at the point of attack.
Smith has game changing strength despite his lean frame. In addition, the 49ers will rush him standing up, so Kalil must be ready for that quick first step. While Ponder has the mobility to throw on the run, he’ll find it hard to escape with All Pro Linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman lurking in the area.
If Kalil can keep Ponder upright, the Vikings will have a semblance of a chance against what many consider the best team in football.