Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre returned to game action Sunday evening against the San Francisco 49ers, but just for a brief time. Head coach Brad Childress said Favre would participate in just 10 plays, but he only wound up playing in just four.
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Favre’s night could have been cut short by Childress after he got knocked down during a sack on a second down play. He was taken out of the game after the next play and was replaced by No. 2 QB Tarvaris Jackson.
Here are some other quick observations from the game:
• Vikings RB Adrian Peterson made his preseason debut for the team. He got quickly involved in the passing game, something that team observers have said might happen this season.
• Minnesota is woefully thin with depth at receiver. With starter Sidney Rice still unable to practice because of his lingering hip issue and Percy Harvin (complications from migraines) being held out, the coaches don’t have many proven options to work with.
• Minnesota’s offensive line gave up too many pressures to San Francisco’s front-seven. That wasn’t the case against the St. Louis Rams last week. It could be that Minnesota’s line struggled with San Francisco’s 3-4 defensive scheme. St. Louis plays a traditional 4-3.
• Second-year SS Jamarca Sanford started over second-year SS Tyrell Johnson. The two players were in perhaps the most hotly contested training camp battle on the team.
• Remarkably, MLB E.J. Henderson was able to start this game despite suffering a broken left femur last December. You can’t underestimate what it means to have him back in the lineup. Look at what the Philadelphia Eagles went through after losing MLB Stewart Bradley last season.
• Rookie QB Joe Webb is a bit mechanical as a passer and tends to stare down his intended receiver a bit too much. However, he clearly has a better than average arm and really moves well for his size — just check his 48-yard scamper for a TD. There is clearly something to work with here with Webb. It just will take time to develop him.
• Save for the 24-yard completion to No. 2 TE Delanie Walker, the big play element wasn’t there for the San Francisco offense with the starters in the game. Not having No. 1 TE Vernon Davis (knee sprain) clearly changes the way defenses line up against San Francisco’s offense. No player needed to be double teamed without Davis in the lineup. The big play element came in the form of backup WR Ted Ginn on his 60-yard catch.
• While it doesn’t show in his statistics, rookie RB Anthony Dixon, who started the game for Frank Gore, is a perfect fit for San Francisco’s power running game. His four-yard TD run around left end was impressive. He’s the kind of downhill runner that head coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye were looking for out of this year’s draft.
• While he didn’t wind up playing despite dressing for the game, veteran RB Brian Westbrook should provide a decent role for the 49ers. Dixon clearly needs to work on his pass protection, an area where Westbrook excels in. Not only will Westbrook see time in passing situations, but he should prove to be a good mentor for the rest of the backs on the roster.
• OLB Travis LaBoy, who has had his injury problems over the years, was very active in this game for the 49ers. If healthy, he should be very productive coming off the bench this season. He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft as a 4-3 defensive end, but some scouting sources felt he would be a better fit for a 3-4 scheme.
• Not much has been expected out of second-year QB Nate Davis, but just watching him in this game, you can see how strong of an arm he has. I know from talking to former NFL scout Russ Lande about Davis, Lande believes Davis is capable of being a starter some day for San Francisco.