TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 3: San Francisco At Minnesota Vikings

49ers
Vikings
San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals
Jacksonville Jaguars v Minnesota Vikings
Quarterback
Winner The 49ers may turn out to be the best team in football this season, and much of that belongs to Alex Smith. He has improved dramatically over the last two seasons. He has become an accurate passer who makes great decisions and that leads to victories.
The Vikings may have something with Christian Ponder calling signals. He has rallied the Vikings in the fourth quarter of the first two games, and the Vikings appear somewhat competitive. Ponder has arm strength, accuracy and executes down the stretch.
Offense
Winner The Jim Harbaugh era is all about playing physical football on offense and letting the punishing offensive line dominate. The running game is dependable with Frank Gore overpowering defenders. Tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree excel at making clutch plays.
The Vikings should be able to compete offensively with the Niners. They have the best running back in football in Adrian Peterson. Wide receiver Percy Harvin caught 12 passes against the Colts and he has the quickness to get open. Michael Jenkins is a decent complementary receiver.
Defense
Winner The 49ers appear to have the best defense in football in the early going. They frustrated the Packers in the road opener and kept the explosive Lions from scoring a touchdown until garbage time. Justin Smith and Aldon Smith are both smart and aggressive players who team with middle linebacker Patrick Willis to dominate.
If the Vikings are going to have any chance in this game, Jared Allen must be on his game and find a way to get to Alex Smith. He did not have a sack in the loss to the Colts. Linebacker Erin Henderson had 12 stops against the Colts and is an outstanding tackler.
Special Teams
The 49ers have rarely been known for their kicking game, but that has changed with the explosive David Akers handling field goal duties. Punter Andy Lee does not have a strong leg, but he knows how to drop the ball inside the 20.
Winner The Vikings should have the opportunity to pop a couple of big plays in the return game this season with Harvin handling kickoff returns. Placekicker Blair Walsh has a strong leg and connected on a 51-yarder against the Colts.

The Winner Is

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals
Winner 49ers
3 out of 4

The 49ers are off to an excellent start and they should have a chance to assert themselves in the NFC and possibly represent the conference in the Super Bowl. However, they are not going to win every game and a hard-running Viking team could push them hard if Minnesota gets off to a good start.

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