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


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.

Kaepernick's parents defend his anthem protests: 'Very proud of our son'

Kaepernick's parents defend his anthem protests: 'Very proud of our son'

Colin Kaepernick began his silent National Anthem protests in late August.

For almost four months, his parents have remained quiet.

But after reports that Kaepernick did not have the support of his parents, Teresa and Rick Kaepernick reached out to ESPN's The Undefeated on Friday to set the record straight.

"Colin is carrying a heavy load and following a difficult path that he truly believes in. He is putting his entire future and possibly his life on the line for those beliefs. As his parents, it pains us to read articles and tweets saying that his family does not support him; this could not be further from the truth. We want people to know that we are very proud of our son and admire his strength and courage in kneeling for the rights of others," the couple said in a statement to the publication.

Kaepernick's parents also commented on those you have called their son un-American or labeled his protests as anti-Military.

"Colin has chosen to kneel for the national anthem as a protest to the continuing racial inequality in this country. He has explained his reasons for this in multiple interviews, yet it seems some people still do not understand his point. For whatever reason, there are some who want to view this as an anti-military protest or an un-American stance. These views could not be further from the truth, but we know that people will believe what they wish to believe. The recent remarks (attacks) by Admiral Harris supported by the Pentagon are over the top, and we feel the desire to make a public statement in support of our son," The Kaepernicks said in their statement.

They concluded their statement by discussing the reaction the family received due to Kaepernick's protest, including detailing the hate mail that has been sent to them.

"When Colin first 'took a knee', his family was as surprised as anyone. We did not understand why he was doing this and were overwhelmed with the public reaction and hate. Colin not only received terrible racist tweets, but also received letters directly to our home similar to that recently received by [Denver Broncos linebacker] Brandon Marshall. We were truly shocked at the amount of racist hatred out there! Until this had occurred, we had naively believed that the racial atmosphere in this country was far better than it actually is. Prayer and talks with our son gave us a much better understanding of the reason for his protest and how we should view it."

The Undefeated's Martenzie Johnson also spoke to Teresa Kaepernick by phone on Friday and she threw her family's support behind her son.

"I just want to be on the record that we absolutely do support him," she said.

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

The 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season, the team announced late Friday.

The deal is worth $35 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money, ESPN reported. The actual contract terms and amount of fully guaranteed money is expected to be less than the reported figures.

McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He has touchdown receptions this season of 75 and 65 yards.

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

McDonald is in the final season of his original four-year, $3.99 million contract he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2013.

In McDonald’s three previous seasons, he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and three touchdowns.

McDonald spoke last week about the greater chances he's gotten to prove himself since the 49ers traded Vernon Davis last season.

“I just always look back at the opportunity when Vernon went to (Denver),” McDonald said. “Just being able to have the trust and the opportunity to start games and play every down.”

Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, "He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league. So really depends on week to week what people have available at the safety spot to kind of match up with him. But he’s certainly someone that I think people defensively have to game plan for.”