Second year quarterback Christian Ponder might just be a day removed from his Minnesota Vikings’ loss to the Indianapolis Colts, but he has to already be awfully worried about what he is going to see this week against the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners opened at -6 on the NFL odds for this Week 3 clash, and a large reason why involves their secondary.
Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers are two of the toughest quarterbacks to stop in the NFL. Had Rodgers played in all 16 games last year full bore, both men would have thrown for over 5,000 yards, and the two combined for 86 TD passes between them. That being said, both were held down by this ferocious 49ers’ secondary and the pass rush, which has forced both elite signal callers into iffy games.
Stafford and Rodgers are a combined 49-of-76 (64.5%) passing for 533 yards with three scores and two picks against San Francisco this year, making for an iffy quarterback rating of 87.2. The 49ers rank No. 11 in the league in total defense at 310.0 YPG and No. 11 in scoring at 20.5 PPG, but in the end, we have to recognize the fact that these first two games have come against absolutely brutal foes who figure to both finish the season in the Top 5 in the league in scoring and yardage.
This week, Minnesota has its work cut out for it. Ponder has thrown for 515 yards, and he has a 75.8% completion percentage, but he is going to be facing the toughest test that he has had thus far to date in his young career.
Minnesota doesn’t have a single pass of 30+ yards all year long. The 49ers have allowed just two passes to cover that type of distance, one of which went to James Jones in the opener, and one which was nothing more than a little swing pass to Joique Bell against the Lions last week. All of that is incredibly impressive when you consider the fact that the 49ers have already gone against the likes of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Calvin Johnson this year, and none of them have a catch for more than 28 yards.
Kickoff from the Metrodome is set for 1:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday afternoon in Week 3.