The San Francisco 49ers are playing on the road for the first time this season against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday at 4pm PT. The exhibition matchup follows a week of joint practices at the TCO Performance Center where members from both teams lauded the additional competition.
"Both teams here are trying to get better," George Kittle said. "When you can compete in this environment where you can slow it down and talk about stuff and the bolts aren't flying, it's really beneficial to both teams. Honestly, I think these two practices are more important than the game."
For this week's Four Downs, 49ers Team Reporter Lindsey Pallares and 49ers Spanish Insider Jesús Zarate have joined me to break down several storylines ahead of the team's preseason contest against the Vikings.
1st Down: What is Your Expectation for the Team's First Away Game?
@LindseyLares: An Opportunity for Young Players
With most of the expected starters likely sitting out this second preseason game, I anticipate younger players and rookies to get the bulk of the playing time versus the Vikings. This could be a huge opportunity for these players to prove they belong on the 49ers 53-man roster with the final cut slated for the end of the month. U.S. Bank Stadium is a great venue, so playing there should be a good first experience for less tenured members of the team.
@JesusZarate87: Players Looking to Earn a Spot on the Roster
In the team's first away game, I expect to see many of the rookies and players who are fighting for a spot on the team to continue to make progress. Especially, because this game will be a great opportunity for many of those guys to showcase all of their talent and growth. I am assuming most of those players that still need to secure a spot on the roster will play the majority of the time. Shanahan said before these preseason games that he does not want to play the starters during the second game. That means other players have a great chance to make a good impression against the Vikings.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Tenured Players to Serve as Leaders
Saturday night's game in Minnesota will be the first time the team plays on the road. During the 49ers joint practices with the Vikings, many players shared how their first trip served as a great bonding experience. The first NFL away game could be a tricky one for the rookies on the team since they are out of their element after developing a routine in Santa Clara since rookie minicamp in May. I am expecting tenured players to serve as leaders for the rookies to lean on as the young players show off their skills on the field and fight for a spot on the roster.
2nd Down: Which Position Group Matchups are You Most Excited to Watch?
@LindseyLares: 49ers Secondary vs. Vikings Receivers
I am excited to watch the 49ers secondary contain the Vikings wide receivers. The 49ers invested a lot of resources into improving the defensive backs group this offseason, and there is no better challenge for the newer additions than to battle it out with Minnesota's wideouts. Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson had a great day of practice on Wednesday, and while he may not play Saturday, the rest of Minnesota's wide receivers are looking to follow his lead.
@JesusZarate87: 49ers Offensive Line vs. Vikings Defensive Line
I am very excited to watch the 49ers offensive line vs. the Vikings defensive line. Specifically, players like Spencer Burford, Aaron Banks and Jake Brendel. When Alex Mack retired and Laken Tomlinson left in free agency, there were questions along the interior of the offensive line, but young players have stepped up and are starting to answer those questions. I know it's early, but it has been really nice to see guys like Burford and Banks take most of the reps during practice with the first-string unit and do a good job. Same goes for Brendel, who is competing to win the starting center position.
@BriMcDonaldTV: 49ers Receivers vs. Vikings Secondary
I'm looking forward to watching the 49ers receiving corps play up against the Vikings secondary. During the NFL Draft, Minnesota picked up safety Lewis Cine in the first round and cornerback Andrew Booth in the second. Watching the Vikings young DB unit compete against San Francisco's young wide receivers should be an exciting matchup throughout the game. The newest 49ers receivers have been showcasing impressive performances; third-round draft pick Danny Gray was just one yard away from recording a 100-yard game in his first-ever NFL contest and return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud III has been solidifying his skills at wide receiver throughout training camp.
3rd Down: Which Rookie or Free Agent Will Stand Out the Most in Week 2 of the Preseason?
@LindseyLares: CB Samuel Womack III
Womack III had two interceptions in the preseason opener and a nice pass breakup during joint practice with the Vikings on Wednesday. It feels like the rookie cornerback is hitting his stride, and it will be exciting to see if he can continue building off his performance from last week against the Packers.
@JesusZarate87: Womack III
In this game, I believe Womack III will continue to stand out. Not just because of the two interceptions he registered against Green Bay, but also the way the rookie played in general during that first preseason matchup. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, describes him as being "sticky" in coverage and he truly is. He's always close to the action and with those long arms is able to break up passes often and intercept the ball.
@BriMcDonaldTV: RB Jordan Mason
Last week against the Packers, Mason rushed for 30 yards on six attempts. Running backs and assistant head coach Anthony Lynn mentioned that Mason has done an "outstanding job" and "created some competition in the room" during training camp. I think the running back will do the same during the team's second preseason game.
4th Down: What is Your Bold Prediction for Saturday's Game Against the Vikings?
@LindseyLares: My bold prediction is that Gray will have a 50+ yard touchdown reception, and that Womack III will have another pick.
@JesusZarate87: Bold prediction against the Vikings, I think the 49ers defense again will provoke at least three turnovers.
@BriMcDonaldTV: The 49ers defense will force two fumbles.
Up Next Latest Videos Channel Cart Talk: Talanoa Hufanga Talks Dream Jobs, 2022 Goals Latest Videos Channel 49ers Foundation Players for a Purpose Event Raises $760,000 Latest Videos Channel Aiyuk, Samuel, Warner, Williams Talk 'Picking Up Intensity' Latest Videos Channel Ryans on 'Competitive Spirit' at Joint Practice with Vikings Latest Videos Channel Brick by Brick: Bringing the Energy Latest Videos Channel Shanahan Recaps the Team's First Joint Practice with Vikings Latest Videos Channel Lance, Kittle, Bosa Talk Competition at Practice vs. Vikings Latest Videos Channel Los 49ers: Comienzan los 49ers con el Pie Derecho Latest Videos Channel Could Trent Williams Crack the Top 10 of the NFL's Top 100 List? Latest Videos Channel Mic'd Up: Hufanga Celebrates the Team's First Preseason Win Latest Videos Channel George Odum, Kyle Juszczyk Discuss the 'Grind' of Training Camp Latest Videos Channel Shanahan Shares Injury Updates Ahead of Preseason Week 2 Latest Videos Channel 'Top 100 Players of 2022': Jimmie Ward Named No. 96 Latest Videos Channel 'Top 100 Players of 2022': Kyle Juszczyk Lands at No. 100 Latest Videos Channel Jackson, McKivitz, McCrary-Ball Talk Learning from Team Vets Latest Videos Channel DeMeco Ryans on What it Means to Play '49ers Defense' Latest Videos Channel Resumen de la Victoria de Pretemporada en Contra de los Packers Latest Videos Channel Gray, McCloud III, Womack III, Lance Talk Team Energy on the Field Latest Videos Channel Shanahan Evaluates Performances of Young Players in #SFvsGB Latest Videos Channel 49ers Top Plays vs. Packers in Preseason Week 1 Win Latest Videos Channel Brock Purdy Lobs Alley-Oop to KeeSean Johnson for Two-Point Conversion Latest Videos Channel Brock Purdy Finds Tanner Hudson in the End Zone for a Third-Down TD Latest Videos Channel Robert Nkemdiche Goes Untouched through Backfield for 5-Yard TFL Latest Videos Channel ¡Bombazo de Trey Lance para Touchdown de Danny Gray! Latest Videos Channel Samuel Womack III Wrestles Football Away from WR's Grasp for an INT Latest Videos Channel Nate Sudfeld Finds a Wide Open Ray-Ray McCloud III for 39-Yard TD Latest Videos Channel Samuel Womack III Nabs Second INT vs. Jordan Love for 50-Yard Return Latest Videos Channel Marcelino McCrary-Ball Hauls in Deflected Pass vs. Packers Latest Videos Channel Danny Gray Stays Inbounds on Massive 76-Yard TD from Trey Lance Latest Videos Channel Previa del Primer Partido de Pretemporada de los 49ers vs. Packers Latest Videos Channel 49ers Top Plays from their Divisional Round Win Over the Packers Latest Videos Channel Best Plays from the 49ers Defense and Special Teams vs. the Packers Latest Videos Channel Training Camp Rewind: Breaking Down the Top Storylines from #49ersCamp Latest Videos Channel Los 49ers: El Training Camp 2022 Termina con una Buena Nota Latest Videos Channel Brick by Brick: Whatever It Takes Latest Videos Channel Talanoa Hufanga, Tyrion Davis-Price Talk Excitement for Preseason Games Latest Videos Channel DeMeco Ryans Shares His Preseason Advice for Young Players Latest Videos Channel McCloud III, Johnson, Burford Talk Team Bonding at Training Camp Latest Videos Channel Shanahan Talks Preseason Games, Expectations for Young Players Latest Videos Channel DeMeco Ryans Commemorates Dwight Clark, Talks Defensive Progression