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

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town on the email. If Twitter is your jam, you can send a question to me that way as well.

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. Hockenson, Josh Oliver and Johnny Mundt.


Click here for the digital version of the Playbook.

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.

Upset NIGHT!

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.

Nice to see a winning score, but holy smokes, hard to watch this offense. Yikes.

Something has gone off the rails with Cousins and the head coach.

The head coach is not performing very well as an offensive coordinator.

He may think he is a great play caller, but honestly, the proof is in the pudding. And, Cousins looks lost most of the time. Maybe they should have kept [Adam] Thielen and "not" drafted [Jordan] Addison?

If he cannot give up play calling to Cousins, as I have previously mentioned, then turn it all over to the offensive coordinator. Maybe Coach Kevin can be a Bud Grant type coach? Just stand there in a nice business type outfit and manage things?

I wonder what happened? It is very curious to me — maybe it is something about Cousins being a "short timer"? Thoughts?

— MB Shaw in Atchison, Kansas

Play calling continues to be a frequent subject matter in the inbox.

Backstory, MB suggested earlier in October that O'Connell hand over play calling duties to Cousins based on a game plan that had been mutually agreed upon two days in advance, allowing Cousins to call plays similar to some QBs of yesteryear.

There's so much information that goes into each play that's added to a weekly call sheet, as well as factors that can change mightily within a game, that would make an approach unlikely by almost any team.

Cousins does collaborate throughout the week with the coaching staff to let them know his comfort level with plays as they're being installed.

Will we ever see trick plays like we see with other teams? Detroit especially.

— Dee Dee Garrels

Maybe? There's a chance a trick play could help the Vikings steal a possession. They were successful in their execution of a fake punt against the Chiefs for that very reason back in Week 5, but we haven't seen much in the way of that on offense.

Perhaps the absence of Jefferson in the lineup might make the Vikings more interested in a trick play, but a big key to success is catching an opponent off guard.

Well, 2-4, isn't as bad as 1-5 right? Nothing is a gimme in this league. Now despite not having a few of their best players, the 49ers will be tough to beat, especially with that defense of theirs. The boys in purple and gold trim better be on their game. I hate those uni-colored uniforms by the way, bad fashion statement lol. Having said that, I know that I've been hard on management and a few players this season so now's the time, boys, to step up. You know who you are. I pray for a solid game with few stupid turnovers. Let's work the clock by the run, sustain some drives and outscore those guys... The fans deserve it!


— Nicholas Balkou

The Vikings will be wearing purple jerseys on purple pants for the 13th time in franchise history, but this will not be the #PrimetimePurple look. Instead, it will be the same combination the Vikings wore in their playoff loss to the Giants and in last season's Week 4 win over the Saints in London.

A big component of team football is every player doing his 1/11th on every snap, which means taking care of every aspect of every assignment and even better care of the football.

Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the 49ers.

Why have the Vikings not picked up defensive help? I.E. Frank Clark, Akeem Hicks or Desmond King. Also, run game needs a boost. Need to start [Cam] Akers. [Alexander] Mattison has dropped too many passes and fumbles. If we get lucky and beat 49ers, can go on a run. But who are we kidding, they are not going anywhere in playoffs. Draft a franchise QB, top free agents and make some impact trades. Long suffering fan in Connecticut.

— Frankie D.

The Vikings have shown a willingness to evaluate and address needs, even during the season. Trading for Hockenson last year was an example of that.

Some have wanted the team to execute a complete fire sale, even a couple of weeks into the season and several before the trade deadline at the end of the month. The Vikings will be able to see how Monday goes, as well as Week 8 at Green Bay before making any determinations on trades.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 7, 2024.

Give [Ty Chandler] more touches. He needs to be utilized more. SKOL.

— Rich Fisher

Offensive opportunities for Chandler have been quite slim while he's been filling in for Kene Nwangwu as the primary kickoff returner. Now that Nwangwu, an All-Pro kick returner, is back from Injured Reserve, maybe Chandler will get worked into the game plan a bit more.

O'Connell was asked Saturday about the prospect of Nwangwu being involved in the rung game and included some words about Chandler.

"Ty has still done some really good things, hasn't quite gotten the opportunities as of late, but our confidence in that group is still sky high, and we'll figure out if we're putting individual guys in for plays, or if it's more a rhythm-of-the-game type of thing, but we'll see that as well," O'Connell said.

What can be done to improve the quality of future drafts so that players will be drafted who have a lasting impact on the Vikings future success?

— Roger Johnson in Edina, Minnesota

As familiar as the annual draft event is, each one is its own entity. Teams who made the playoffs the previous season are going to picking later than teams that had bad records. This past year, the Vikings were limited in their number of draft picks from previous trades and wound up making six total selections. But, three players identified as priority free agents who went undrafted wound up signing with the Vikings and making the 53-man roster, so Ivan Pace, Jr., Andre Carter II and NaJee Thompson, as well as Hockenson's output (Minnesota sent its 2023 second-rounder to Detroit in that deal), should be included in the assessment of this draft.

There's players in the past two years who haven't had deeper opportunities but they are continuing to be developed by the coaching staff.

O'Connell has noted in the past that each pick will have his own curve.

Heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, the Vikings have eight picks (at the moment), which will allow for a bit more flexibility to move up the board if the team wants to do so.