The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS–Sam Bradford pivoted right and saw his completed swing pass to Dalvin Cook become a painful five-yard loss after being swarmed by San Francisco rookie linebacker Reuben Foster.
Bradford fumbled from the shotgun on Minnesota’s next snap, pushing the Vikings another seven yards back.
The punt, one of 11 in 13 preseason possessions by the first team, came one play later.
For an offence that has lagged behind its peers on defence in three years since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach, this was a deflating start–even in an exhibition.
“I thought it was just a little bit sloppy,” Bradford said after the 32-31 victory Sunday night fuelled by a second-half rally behind the backups.
“Too many mistakes,” he noted. “I thought we did a decent job getting drives going, getting a first down, getting two first downs, and then it seems like we just do something to shoot ourselves in the foot and stop it.
“To be a good offence, to be a good football team, you can’t do those things,” Bradford stressed.
“And we’ve got to figure out a way to eliminate that.”
With Cook and Latavius Murray joining Jerick McKinnon in the backfield, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph complemented in the passing attack by newcomer Michael Floyd, with any contribution by Laquon Treadwell an additional bonus, this group does not lack vitality or versatility.
Bradford, who set the NFL record for completion percentage in 2016, has proven his accuracy when he’s protected.
He looked sharp when he had time to throw against the 49ers.
And even when he was flushed from the pocket, he more than once made a deft move away from the pressure to set up a downfield heave.
The revamped line, however, obviously is still a work in progress.
Riley Reiff was in at left tackle for the first time after missing the beginning of training camp with back trouble while left guard Alex Boone was back after a brief absence to a leg injury.
But the front five was far from formidable.
“If we come in at halftime next week and are doing the same thing, then it becomes a concern,” Boone said, looking ahead to the season-opener Sept. 11 against the New Orleans Saints.
“More than a concern: a problem.
“To have everybody out there for the first time together, talking, communicating, playing together, it was good for that,” he added.
“But we have to do more on offence.”