We normally only publish our Mailbag on Monday mornings, but with the Vikings preparing to face the 49ers in San Francisco on Saturday, we wanted to do a special edition leading into the Divisional round game.
Remember that you can send comments or questions to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday, we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.
Why are they making the Vikes play with only a six-day break? They played two AFC games last Saturday, so why don't they play two AFC games this Saturday? The Vikings are getting the bad end of this scheduling.
View practice images from the Vikings practice on Jan. 9 at TCO Performance Center.
There's no arguing that a six-day week is less than ideal when preparing to face a team that enjoyed a first-round playoff bye. But unfortunately, the NFL chooses all the dates, times and networks for games, so a lot of it has to do with TV scheduling, etc.
But one thing you can count on is that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer won't make excuses. He said the following during his press conference with Twin Cities media members earlier this week:
"It's similar to playing a Monday night game and then you have to get ready for a Sunday game. Obviously, we're going out to the West Coast, so that'll be a little bit different, but, hey, it's playoff time. It's big-boy football now."
If you'd like, you can view the rest of Coach Zimmer's press conference below.
Stefanski has done a really good job utilizing our weapons. Somehow, some way, I pray he gets even more aggressive this upcoming week and beyond to NOT fall into [conservative] play calls ... your thoughts?
– Alan from Brooklyn Park (MN)
I agree that Kevin Stefanski has done a great job this season as the Vikings offensive coordinator, and Head Coach Mike Zimmer has also spoken highly of the variety of ways Minnesota has found to win. As you mentioned, the Vikings have no shortage of talented players on offense, and Stefanski dedicates himself to finding the best way to utilize those players to make the most impact.
As far as the aggressive mindset, remember that every game is different. Many factors that go into an offensive game plan – whether the team is playing from ahead or behind, the opponent's defensive system, opposing personnel, etc. – and determining an aggressive vs. conservative approach.
One thing I can say for sure is that I trust the Vikings coaching staff has been hard at work this week prepping for a dynamic 49ers defense.
"Vikings Postgame" Live After Saturday's Game
Visit vikings.com, the Vikings App, Vikings Now (Connected TV app), or the team's Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages to watch "Vikings Postgame" after Saturday's game against the 49ers.
Who determines – or what goes into – the Vikings uniform combination for each game? SKOL!
– Jonathan from Piqua, Ohio
Great question! The home team decides what jersey color it will wear (white like the Saints did last week, or dark), which by default determines the jersey for any visiting team. For instance, because the Saints opted to wear their white jerseys at home, the Vikings wore purple. As far as determining the pants/jersey combo, that part is up to each individual team. Minnesota opted for purple-on-purple in New Orleans, a combination that the Vikings had never worn in a playoff game before.
Against San Francisco, the Vikings are wearing white jerseys with purple pants.
See photos of the Vikings equipment staff readying the team's uniforms for Saturday's Divisional Round matchup with the 49ers.
I've been a Sacramento Viking fan long enough to remember the last time the Vikes beat the Saints in a Wild Card game, then faced SF and [Joe] Montana in the division round in SF. The Anthony Carter show. Hoping the symmetry works again.
– Jeff from Sacramento, California
Thank you for your support from the West Coast, Jeff! The Vikings can use all the fans in California they can get this weekend.
As you referenced, the 1987 Vikings certainly made a special run in the playoffs after finishing 8-7 (the season was shortened by one game because of a players' strike that resulted in the use of replacement players for three other games). Minnesota's record enabled the team to eek into the playoffs. As a reminder, only five teams made it back then: three division winners and two Wild Card teams. San Francisco (13-2) won the NFC West and a first-round bye thanks to a 3-0 showing with replacement players.
I like the way you called it "The Anthony Carter Show." The receiver caught 10 passes for a whopping 227 of Wade Wilson's 298 passing yards, and the Vikings limited eventual Hall of Fame WR Jerry Rice to three catches for 28 yards.
Minnesota attacked future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, and another future HOF QB, Steve Young, replaced Montana with the 49ers trailing 27-10 with 6:29 left in the third quarter. It was the first benching of Montana in his professional career.
Chris Doleman recorded 2.0 sacks, and Scott Studwell and Henry Thomas had one apiece.
Reggie Rutland returned an interception of Montana 45 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Vikings a 20-3 edge at halftime. Carl Lee added an interception of Young.
The Vikings upset the Niners 36-24 to advance to the NFC Championship Game the following week. That year marked the most-recent time that Minnesota has won multiple playoff games in one season.
It certainly will be interesting to see if history will repeat itself this weekend, 32 years after the Vikings followed the same postseason path.