Editor's Note: The above video is from a media session with Eric Mangini on Friday, September 11, 2015.
SANTA CLARA – Technically, they are first-year players. Their official rookie seasons in the NFL were spent rehabbing injuries.
But you can be assured the Minnesota Vikings will give the full rookie treatment to whomever is lined up at cornerback for the 49ers opposite of Tramaine Brock.
Kenneth Acker, who 49ers coach Jim Tomsula intimated would start Monday night against the Vikings, is ready to see plenty of action come his way.
"For sure," Acker said. "It's a rookie situation in a way because it's (our) first actual game. I look it as an opportunity where I know the ball's going to come at some point."
Tomsula said Keith Reaser remains in the mix for the starting job, too. The 49ers drafted Acker and Reaser in 2014. They knew Reaser, a fifth-round pick, would not be available for his rookie season due to two surgeries to repair a torn ACL (the first graft was not successful). Acker spent the season on injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his foot.
On Monday, Acker and Reaser could play huge roles in this new-look team’s Monday night unveiling.
“You don’t get the sense from any of them that it’s too big for them,” 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini said. “You don’t get a sense that they’re in awe of it. If anything, you feel their excitement. You feel their excitement about the opportunity that they have and the challenges that they’re going to have and that’s what you look for.
“The last thing you want as a coach is to have a guy that you’re comforting through the first game. So I’ve liked that and young guys have a nice quality about them, because sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know and that’s a good thing.”
Acker said he began looking at Vikings receivers Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson even prior to training camp in anticipation of playing a vital role in the 49ers’ defense.
“It’s not like I was sitting there dissecting them months ago, of course not,” Acker said. “But I definitely looked at the receiver corps to see who I’d be facing. And got a little sense of what’s going to happen before it does.”
Although he entered the NFL in the same draft class as Acker and Reaser, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater holds a big advantage in experience. Bridgewater started 12 games last season. He completed 70 percent or better of his pass attempts in four of his final five games last season.
Bridgewater mostly throws high-percentage passes. But now with the addition of Wallace, he has another deep threat against whom the 49ers’ cornerbacks must be wary.
“He’s a quality quarterback,” Acker said. “He’s learning like all of us right now. He’s in his second year. It’s one of those times when a quarterback kind of feels comfortable in a situation. He’s been in the offense for a year. He’s going to know where his check-downs are at all times.
“When you have a running back like Adrian Peterson, of course you’re going to know where your check-down is.”