Vikings vs. 49ers game preview: Christian Ponder and Colin Kaepernick go head-to-head

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Two NFC playoff teams from a year ago will go at it in the third and most important preseason game.

Two quarterbacks from the 2011 NFL Draft class will go head-to-head on Sunday night. One was drafted in the first round and is playing for his job this season. The other was drafted in the second round has lead his team to a Super Bowl.

We're talking about Christian Ponder and Colin Kaepernick, two quarterbacks on the opposite end of the job security spectrum. Ponder is more experienced in terms of games played and was the higher draft pick, but Kaepernick has the edge in ability and achievements at this point in their respective careers.

In the third and most important preseason game, we should see plenty of both quarterbacks as they prepare for their third NFL seasons.

Meet the Vikings

The Vikings enter the 2013 season with plenty to prove on offense. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the NFL, but Christian Ponder needs to take a step forward to get this offense to the next level. That may be tough to do with the departure of Percy Harvin, but the Vikings are hoping Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson can help pick up the slack.

Defensively, Minnesota will relying on rookies Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes to make an impact right away. Floyd won't play for the remainder of the preseason after injuring his knee in the first exhibition game.

Meet the 49ers

Kaepernick enters his first full season as the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback, and he will have plenty of talent around him to help make it a successful one. Michael Crabtree may be injured, but the 49ers still have one of the league's best offensive lines and a formidable group of receivers. Add in Jim Harbaugh's coaching ability, and it's not a stretch to call San Francisco one of the NFC's most dangerous offenses.

But the 49ers built this thing on defense, and the strength lies in the front seven, which is loaded with young, talented players. They will be looking for improvement from the secondary, but Nnamdi Asomugha has shown signs of life after signing a team friendly deal with San Francisco this offseason.

Local Takes: Vikings

Niners Nation asked Daily Norseman about Ponder, and the answer was honest and blunt.

I think Ponder has the skills and personnel necessary to succeed this year. I also realize that he needs to be MUCH more consistent and mature as a decision maker. In my mind this season is make-or-break for Christian Ponder. After the dust settles on the 2013 season we'll definitively know whether the Vikings have their quarterback of the future or if they'll have to go back to the drawing board yet again.

Local Takes: Niners

The 49ers have a new wide receiver, trading A.J. Jenkins for Jonathan Baldwin. Daily Norseman asked Niners Nation about the trade:

I think both sites are getting positive feedback about the new wide receiver. In the initial comments after the trade, you could have traded out Jenkins for Baldwin in the AP and NN posts, and it would have sounded very similar. Both fan-bases were as much hoping for the change of scenery as anything else.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Niners Nation and Daily Norseman, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@DailyNorseman - Vikings SB Nation Blog

@TomPelissero - Vikings beat writer

@NinersNation - 49ers SB Nation Blog

@MaioccoCSN - Niners beat writer

Odds

The 49ers are favored by 5½ points, according to Odds Shark.

Next Week

The 49ers will take on the Chargers in San Diego. Minnesota will host the the Tennessee Titans in the preseason finale.

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