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Reginald Maudling's Shin

Vikings v. 49ers 8/10/2012

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Greetings from the East Bay. I realized the night before last that this game was being played in San Francisco (for some reason I thought it was at the dome, probably because they play in the regular season there), so I scrambled to find some tickets online and made the game. Granted it's the first preseason game so you can't gauge much, but dammit I'll try.

Before I get to the game, I have to describe this weather. As a Minnesotan by birth, it is in my DNA to discuss weather in depth at any possible opportunity, so I must share this with you (mainly) midwesterners. At noon it was 100 degrees of blazing, intolerable heat when I went out to lunch. At 5:00 after I crossed the Oakland Hills, past the Bay and into the San Francisco peninsula (30 miles give or take as the crow flies), it was upper 50's, cold, and windy. I know, I'm a wimp for complaining about 50 degree weather. But you know, I haven't been this cold since I moved out here over a year ago. And you try to endure a 40 degree temperature change in 1 hour, tough guy. Kudos to the San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders, by the way. They gutted it out and kept on their skimpy outfits for the entire first half, and only added light jackets in the second. Is it bad that I feel like Morris from "Slapshot" when describing cheerleaders and their outfits?

OK, to the game: Christian Ponder continues to provide no insight as to whether I think he's going to be a long term success in this league. He made some nice throws to Kyle Rudolph, and did have a 52-yard completion on the first possession of the game, but this ball was late and under thrown. Stephen Burton completely burned his man but had to stop and wait for the ball. That was the only ball that I recall him throwing downfield. They did move the ball against the first team defense pretty well, with no Peterson and no Harvin, so there's that. I still feel nervous with him in the pocket. I don't know if this is the kickass offense, or the receivers, or lack of protection, or him, but he seems to be trying to do too much too often. Favre got away with that scrambling, staying in the pocket too long, improvisation crap when he was here because he had years of experience and a huge arm. Ponder has neither and if he keeps going after 4 yards when he ought to throw the ball away he's going to get killed behind this line.

Of course, the wide receivers didn't help things. I think as a group they may have had more drop than receptions. Again this is the first preseason game but I've seen most of these guys before, and it baffles me how the Vikings are going to try to develop a young QB with minimal weapons at WR. I mean Michael Jenkins? Really?

Defensively the team looked pretty lousy and allowed a merely decent running team to look like the 1980's Nebraska Cornhuskers on several plays. Brandon Jacobs ran around Mistral Reymond like a pylon. Colin Kaepernick scored on a 78-yard bootleg (vs. 2nd team, but still, that was really bad). Of course Jared Allen was out and his replacement got blown out several times. Winfield didn't play, but I don't know how much you can count on the wounded veteran CB at this stage in his career.

After Joe Webb entered the game this one turned ugly. I don't know what to do with this young man, as he has glimpses of raw talent but long stretches of ineptitude. I guess he kind of is what he is, not quite good enough to invest a lot of game time in to develop.

As bad as this game was to watch I was impressed by a few players. Kyle Rudolph runs smooth, crisp routes and has soft hands. Harrison Smith made a nice play staying at home on a reverse to Kyle Williams. I hope he wins a starting safety job over the duds they have starting now. Matt Kalil is huge. He may have been burned a time or two but I think he'll be the real deal. He looks like he has the tools: agile and quick feet. Definitely not another Bryant McKinnie (who IMO relied more on size than technique. And he enjoyed cunnilingus with greasy strippers. Yuck). Our kicker Walsh was impressive. I lol'd at LaMichael James trying to run one back 13 yards deep in the end zone.

Finally, everyone should be happy they never have to go to Candlestick Park. Besides being in a rough neighborhood, impossible to drive to, constantly cold and windy, it is a pain in the ass. The concession stands had deep, stationary lines the entire game, making it impossible to get something to eat if you actually wanted to watch football at a football game. Keep in mind this is the first preseason game and the place was maybe 1/2 full, probably more like 1/3. I'm not one to complain about the food at a sporting event, but at least at the Metrodome you can get to the food if need be.

Most of the fans were pleasant and cordial. The vast majority, really. Most people here remind me of midwestern folks, always friendly, courteous, and looking to help you out. There were a lot of Viking fans in attendance. However, the economy in the bay area must be doing really well, as dozens of degenerates can afford to spend $100 a ticket for the opportunity to get hammered and hang out in the upper concourse to try to start fights with random people the whole game. Kudos to the 49ers for extracting 30 grand per ticket for a PSL to price these losers out of the next stadium. Your family is poor Kenny! Please tell me Viking fans don't behave like this at the dome.

What do I take away from this game? Nothing, as it should be. I think the Vikings still need massive upgrades in several areas, and obviously nothing from one preseason game is going to alter that opinion. It would be nice to see improvement from the disaster that was last year. Hopefully they got their draft picks right and Kalil, Smith, etc. will help. Hopefully Ponder continues to learn to play the position (and hopefully he has the skills to do so). But that's really all we have is hope, as this is going to be a long rebuilding process. But at least we don't play at Candlestick.
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