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Updated: September 20th, 2012 4:41pm
Notebook: Niners' success against run could be bad news for Vikings

Notebook: Niners' success against run could be bad news for Vikings

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - The San Francisco 49ers have made life extremely difficult on opposing running backs in starting 2-0 this season.

The Green Bay Packers had 45 yards on 14 rushing attempts in a Week 1 loss to the 49ers, but a team-leading 27 of those came from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Last Sunday night in a victory over the Detroit Lions, the 49ers held Detroit to 82 yards on 26 attempts, with 67 coming from the running back tandem of Kevin Smith and Joique Bell.

The 49ers did this using six or seven men in the box. Given the Vikings' struggles to get the ball down the field in the passing game, the 49ers might feel free to put eight-men in the box on Sunday at the Metrodome in order to slow Adrian Peterson. If they are able to stop the Vikings' run game, it could be an extremely long day for the home team.

"I'm sure they'll come in focused on trying to stop the run," Peterson said. "That's where we just have to be productive offensively, keep those guys honest. Complete some balls down the field and still run the ball. We have a job to do, and I feel like if we're able to execute our game plan then we should be OK. ...

"These guys are good. But we're looking forward to the challenge. I don't think they've faced a run attack offense like we have. So I think that can switch things up."

Peterson has rushed for 144 yards on 33 carries with two touchdowns this season after spending the offseason rehabbing to return from torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee.

While Peterson said he is feeling better every week, he also is going to be facing the challenge of having defenders near the line of scrimmage until the Vikings prove they have a vertical game.

This is what happened to him in his first two seasons with the Vikings in 2007 and 2008. "I've been seeing eight-man fronts since I've been here so it's nothing new," he said.

However, Peterson does acknowledge that it would help to have the vertical passing game as part of the Vikings' arsenal in order to loosen up things.

"That helps open up the run game and vice versa, so that's something we want to do," he said. "Get the passing game going a little more. Where our deep balls kind of spread their defense out some. I feel like we'll be able to do that this week."

Reed added to injury report

Defensive end D'Aundre Reed was added to the Vikings' injury report Thursday and was limited in practice because of a calf injury.

Center John Sullivan (ankle) was limited in practice for a second day in a row.

Also on the injury report but able to participate fully in practice were safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle); cornerback Chris Cook (biceps); tight end Rhett Ellison (ankle); linebacker Marvin Mitchell (ankle); defensive end Brian Robison (elbow); and wide receiver Jarius Wright (ankle).

Robison is wearing a brace on his left elbow.

Helping out

Frazier was among those in the room on Monday when veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield decided to speak to the team after the Vikings' 23-20 loss at Indianapolis. Adam Vinatieri's 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds left gave the Colts the win after the Vikings had tied the score with 31 seconds remaining.

"It's always good when the veteran guys give a little word of wisdom," Frazier said. "We've had some other guys that talked. Michael Jenkins has talked to the team, Brian Robison has talked to the team. It helps when veteran guys say something, especially with so many young guys on our team. They hear from them, what it takes to win in our league. I think it helps. I know it used to help me when I was a player to hear from the veteran guys. So I think it's good sometimes."

Asked if the veterans on this team are a bit edgy after a tough loss that followed a 3-13 season, Frazier said: "I don't know, it's still so early. The thing I've tried to stress to our guys is there is no reason for us to panic. We're playing at home this weekend and we should be excited and looking forward to this. There shouldn't be a sense of panic at all. Not where we are right now."

About that call

Defensive end Jared Allen was upset after being called for a personal foul in the third quarter Sunday when he hit Colts quarterback Andrew Luck out of bounds.

Luck had gained 1-yard on a third-and-16 play from the Vikings' 46-yard line, but the penalty gave the Colts a first down and they went on to get a field goal on that drive.

Allen has had time to see that play again on film since Sunday and hasn't changed his mind that he disagrees with what appeared to be the correct call.

"If that's a running back, they probably wouldn't call it," he said. "They called it, so obviously I've got to own that but you're trying to make plays. That's what the football game is. You're chasing the guy out of bounds. ... If you stop chasing guys down, eventually they're going to know that and they're going to turn the corner and maybe he picks up that first down.

"Again, the refs called it a personal foul, so you have got to eat that for what it is because you can't get it back. They still got the 15 yards and still got the first down and were able to kick a field goal. But it's not going to change the way I'm going to play. I'm going to continue to hustle after guys.

"I'm going to continue to do whatever I can to get the guy on the ground. I launched (at Luck) when he was in bounds, it's not like I hit him in the head. I hit him in the arm. It's just trying to make a play. ... In the scheme of things, it sucks to get the personal foul. You've got to own that, especially when it costs you a field goal, but I'm not going to stop chasing guys out of bounds. If I feel like I can get a piece of him on the way out I'm going to do it."

Allen, who had an NFL-leading 22 sacks last season, doesn't have one in two games. He said he wasn't going for a sack of Luck on the play in which a flag was thrown.

"It wasn't even about getting the sack, because he had already crossed the line of scrimmage," he said. " ... I'm just trying to make a play."

Expanded role

Tight end John Carlson has been the target of only one pass and has no receptions through two games.

But offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave indicated that could change Sunday.

"We're overdue in getting John involved, so we're looking forward to making up for lost time with him," Musgrave said. "He's done a good job of getting back healthy. We had some plays in for him being on the field with Kyle (Rudolph) last week and they didn't materialize. So we'll look forward to making up for lost time."

Carlson, signed to a five-year, $25 million free-agent deal during the offseason, missed much of training camp and did not play in any preseason games after suffering a sprained medical collateral ligament in his right knee in late July during a practice.

Getting his kicks

Chris Kluwe is 12th in the NFL with a net punting average of 44.8 yards and has put three punts inside the 20-yard line.

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Kluwe has been, "a little bit inconsistent," in the first two games.

"He's hit some really nice balls and he's hit some that, you know, we expect more from him," Priefer said. "He expects more from himself. I would hope that, as we go forward, he's going to be more consistent and hit the good ball more times than not."

Priefer said he has talked to Kluwe about the issue.

"We talk about it, we look at it on tape and he knew when he came off the field, he's been doing this for such a long time that he knew exactly what happened," Priefer said. "It's either too long of a stride or the ball is dropped inside a little bit and as you know with punters, that ball is always moving and I know it's not windy, but it's still moving.

"How it comes off your hand, how long your stride is, those (are the) little things that we need to keep working on and keep tweaking with him, even as a veteran, you're always trying to get better."

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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