4 Big Differences Between the 49ers and Vikings Through the First 6 Weeks of the Season

Vikings Head Coach
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

On Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers will face off inside U.S. Bank Stadium.

The two teams have gotten off to very different starts this year. Minnesota has struggled to a 2-4 record while San Francisco, despite losing last weekend, largely has dominated opponents on their way to 5-1.

There are some major discrepancies in the production and scheme of these two teams that stand at opposite sides of the NFC standings. Here are 4 big differences between the two teams ahead of Monday night’s showdown.

4 Big Differences Between MIN & SF

Turnover Differential

4 Big Differences
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the turnover battle has been a consistent losing effort for the Vikings so far this season. Minnesota leads the league with 13 of them, including nine lost fumbles. Kirk Cousins has fumbled the ball seven times, which leads the NFL and has lost five of them.

On the other side of the ball, the Vikings have forced just six turnovers of their own, giving them a -7 turnover differential, making them a bottom five team in the league in that department.

Meanwhile, the 49ers have turned the ball over just three times this year, tying them for the fewest in the league. They’ve also forced 11 turnovers on defense, which is the fifth-most. Their turnover differential of +8 is the best in the league through six weeks.

Penalties

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

One thing the Minnesota Vikings have been very good at this season is avoiding penalties. They are averaging just five penalties per game (third-best in the NFL) and just 42.7 penalty yards per game (sixth-best) so far this season.

The 49ers, on the other hand, have not fared as well in that department. San Francisco has averaged 7.5 penalties and 64 penalty yards per game through their first six weeks. Both totals are fourth-worst in the league. Last weekend, they were penalized 12 times for 103 yards in their loss to Cleveland.

Blitz Rate

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Another major difference between these two teams comes in their defensive scheme. Brian Flores has come into Minnesota and completely revamped the scheme. After blitzing at the ninth-lowest rate in 2022, the Vikings are now blitzing more than any other team at a whopping 57.9% rate. For context, the second-highest rate belongs to the New England Patriots at 43.4%.

The 49ers, on the other hand, have relied almost entirely on their front four to put pressure on QBs and wreak havoc in the running game. That’s the luxury of having guys like Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, and Drake Jackson on the front. As a result, they’ve blitzed on just 20.3% of their defensive snaps, the fourth-lowest in the league.

Time of Possession

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Cleveland Browns
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, much like the turnover battle, the Vikings have been unable to do much in terms of time of possession this season. Minnesota’s drives have sputtered out on a regular basis, either due to those pesky turnovers or poor luck on third down.

The Vikings are currently the very worst team in the NFL in time of possession. They are holding the ball, on average, for 26 minutes and 14 seconds. This is over 30 seconds fewer than any other team in the league.

San Francisco has not had this problem. They are winning the time of possession battle on a regular basis, and they are holding onto the ball for an average of 32 minutes and 46 seconds.

NOTE: This article originally appeared on our sister-site, PurplePTSD.com.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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