Vikings Defense Needs to Bring Their A-Game Against the 49ers

The Minnesota Vikings will have to bring their A-game if they have a hope of defeating the San Francisco 49ers. A few weeks ago it felt improbable that the Vikings would be sitting at 5-5 heading into Week 11, but here we are. Now we are matching up against the 5-5 San Francisco 49ers and both teams are better than their record shows. Both teams need to win to bolster their playoff hopes. The 49ers offense is one of the better ones in the NFL and the Viking’s defense is wracked by injuries and absences. However, the Vikings keep finding a way to get it done, so do not count them out.

State of the Defense

The Minnesota defense will be without several key players today. 

Player PositionReason
Michael PierceDTElbow
Everson GriffenDEMental Health
Camryn BynumSAnkle (Questionable)
Dalvin TomlinsonDTCovid
Danielle HunterDESeason-ending pec injury
Vikings Defensive Absences Week 11

That group encompasses what was the entire starting defensive line. Right now it appears that DJ Wonnum, Patrick Jones II, and/or Eddie Yarbrough will need to start at DE; Sheldon Richardson, James Lynch, and/or Armon Watts will likely start at tackle. Hopefully, both Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus, who is back off the Covid list, will be available to play and provide depth at the safety position. 

Next Man Up

There are some keys to the defense finding success this weekend. 

  • Cornerback Patrick Peterson has been slowly improving after his return from a hamstring injury. He returned and had 3 solo tackles against Green Bay last weekend. 
  • Bashaud Breeland is also recovering from an injury (groin). Fans expected big things from Breeland and while he has not been the ‘splashy’ player they expected he has been slowly and steadily improving. He can be a smart player who reads the field well. He was instrumental in defeating Green Bay, allowing only 2 catches on 5 targets for 25 yards and forcing an incompletion. 
  • Camryn Bynum will hopefully play today. Bynum is a standout among rookie safeties. He is exactly the kind of young player coaches love – smart, athletic, and eager. He had been filling in for Harrison Smith and has had 18 solo tackles, 1 interception, and a pass deflection. Fans are eager to see more of him. 

How to Get the Win

This cobbled-together defense, consisting of some newer vets and experienced players, will need to find some cohesion to get the win today. The Vikings are coming off some big, thrilling wins. The team has to remain focused and disciplined and not get overconfident. The defense has some opportunity to mix it up and give the 49ers some new looks. The 49ers tend to use a 21 personnel offense and the Vikings base and nickel defense will likely struggle to stop them. One answer would be to use Camryn Bynum as a 3rd safety. A player as athletic as Bynum can be played in multiple positions. He has been productive and is hungry for more chances to prove himself. 

The Vikings do not have a top 5 defense. What they do have is passion and desire to win. They have found ways to come out on top and keep their playoff hopes alive. The 49ers are in the same position, needing a win, and it may come down to who wants it more.