Monday Morning Mailbag: Fans’ Thoughts Heading into Vikings vs. 49ers

Monday Morning Mailbag: Fans’ Thoughts Heading into Vikings vs. 49ers

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Happy game day (and extension of National Tight Ends Day). We had some fun with the “holiday” that began in jest in San Francisco for the Playbook game program fans will receive tonight at U.S. Bank Stadium by featuring T.J. HockensonJosh Oliver and Johnny Mundt.

Also wanted to congratulate Vikings Ring of Honor member Jared Allen for winning more than $100,000 for his Homes for Wounded Warriors charity while making an appearance on “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.”

As a reminder, we’ll continue to work in fans’ emails in our Rehash series on days after games and in Final Thoughts, which usually posts on Fridays but hit Saturday this past week. Please check it out if you haven’t for a few other fans’ comments.

High probability that the “experts” are all predicting a 49ers win by a significant margin. JMHO (Just my humble opinion), if every Vikings player focuses on the details and plays to his ability, the game will be close, and a win is more than possible. Just an opinion. So far this season the Vikings seem to lack the focus needed to play 60 minutes of quality football. Why?


— Noel in Bayfield, Wisconsin

Noel’s email came in before we posted the Week 7 Expert Picks, and sure enough, San Francisco is favored to win, according to that roundup.

But the NFL is a constant reminder that anything can happen. I will agree that it’s likely to require 60 minutes of quality football for an underdog to pull an upset, even when playing at home.

The Vikings clearly feel they haven’t played their best football so far this season, and I’d agree with that based on the mistakes that have been made through six weeks. There’s still a considerable amount of season remaining, and the first opportunity to play better is tonight’s tremendous stage.

Adding to the matchup is the chance Minnesota (2-4) has to make up some ground within the NFC North standings after Detroit fell to 5-2 in a 38-6 loss at Baltimore. Green Bay dipped to 2-4 after a 19-17 loss at Denver. Chicago improved to 2-5 with a 30-12 win over the Raiders.

What is [Kevin O’Connell’s] awareness on the pulse surrounding his ability to manage the game while play calling simultaneously? Any rifts developing amongst offensive staff?

Should note I do not want rifts and believe strongly in the direction of the franchise, but there has been a demonstrated struggle to adjust and pivot (whether it be second half, etc.). Is there any word or buzz within the building that Wes Phillips could take over play calling?

— Matt Boffa in Newtown, Pennsylvania

O’Connell strikes me as the type who is consistently assessing whether things are functioning at an optimal level. He’s previously explained his philosophy as to why he wants to call plays on offense, seeing it as a way to streamline communication with Kirk Cousins.

He and Phillips seem to have a great relationship. When Phillips was mentioned in the past hiring cycle, he said he wanted to return to Minnesota to work with O’Connell.

Several play calls have put the Vikings in position to score before drives ended with turnovers, including four giveaways with the ball inside the opponent’s 2-yard line. That’s an extra 12 to 28 or so points on just those four possessions, and perhaps some drastically different end results on scoreboards.

It does seem that there have been major lulls in third quarters, to go along with first quarters that have been substandard compared to what was accomplished last year, which can again be connected to the turnovers.

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