49ers key matchup No. 3: Sopoaga vs. Sullivan

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49ers key matchup No. 3: Sopoaga vs. Sullivan

This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Vikings matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (FOX-TV), at Mall of American Field.49ers NT Isaac Sopoaga vs. Vikings C John SullivanTale of the tape
Sopoaga (90): 6-foot-2, 330 pounds, ninth season, Hawaii
Sullivan (65): 6-foot-4, 301 pounds, fifth season, Notre DameNose tackle Isaac Sopoaga has been the forgotten man on the 49ers' starting defense through the first two games.That's because Sopoaga played only 15 snaps from scrimmage combined in the 49ers' season-opening victories over the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.When the 49ers face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, that will change. Sopoaga will be asked to play a lot as a run-stuffer in the middle of the 49ers' line against a team that wants to run the football.MAIOCCO: 49ers defense faces first run challenge
"He'll definitely get more play than he's been getting based upon the way Minnesota plays," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.And how's that?"If you follow us, you know we're going to try to establish the run," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said.Running back Adrian Peterson is rounding into top form after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee in December. Peterson has rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 33 rushing attempts in the first two games. Frazier suggested Peterson's work load could increase.MAIOCCO: Peterson says Willis should've been No. 2 pick
The Vikings love to run the ball behind center John Sullivan, who last season signed a five-year, 25 million extension. No team in the NFL has run as many plays straight up the middle as Minnesota. On 28 runs over center, the Vikings have averaged 4.25 yards per attempt.Sullivan, who played every snap in the Vikings' Week 2 loss at Indianapolis, went through limited practice Wednesday and Thursday due to an ankle injury. He is expected to play Sunday, and he'll have his hands full against a fresh Sopoaga.Sopoaga plays nose tackle in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme. When the 49ers go with extra defensive backs in passing situations, Sopoaga is the first player to exit the field.Finally, he'll get a full day's work. His job will be to tie up Sullivan, and perhaps even a guard, to prevent the Vikings' offensive line from getting to the second level to block Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.If Willis and Bowman are able to make plays near the line of scrimmage in the run game, it means Sopoaga has done his job.

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

PHOENIX – The 49ers had a recent visit with Tampa Bay free-agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, general manager John Lynch confirmed on Sunday.

Smith, 27, sustained a torn right ACL in the Buccaneers’ season opener in September while running down the field on punt coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers gave Smith a physical during his visit to Santa Clara. The club has yet to make a contract offer, Lynch said.

"We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see," Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings.

Smith (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seven sacks in 2015 for the Buccaneers.

After going undrafted in 2012 out of Missouri, Smith signed with Miami. He spent time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before landing on the New York Jets’ practice squad. Smith worked his way into the Buccaneers’ defensive-line rotation in ’14 after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

The Buccaneers gave Smith the low tender of $1.797 million as a restricted free agent. Any team can sign Smith to an offer sheet. Tampa Bay would have the right of first refusal but would get no compensation if the team chooses not to match the contract.

With 71 players under contract, the 49ers have $74.5 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

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