The 49ers did not give Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer many clues about what to expect from their four exhibition games.
But one thing Jim Tomsula’s version of the 49ers made clear during the preseason is that there will be a quicker pace to their offense.
“I can tell he wants to be an up-tempo offense,” Zimmer said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Thursday. “They’re getting in and out of the huddle quickly.”
Tomsula made it a point of emphasis for the offense to get the call early and break the huddle with at least 22 seconds on the play clock.
After struggling the past four seasons with the simple mechanics of merely getting to the line of scrimmage and getting the snap off in time, the 49ers will be put to the test for the first time on Monday night. The 49ers and Vikings close out the first week of the regular season with a 7:20 p.m. kickoff at Levi's Stadium.
Zimmer does not have too much familiarity with Tomsula, who never served as a coordinator before landing the 49ers' job in January. It was the second time Tomsula was a candidate for a head-coaching job. Coincidentally, Tomsula was interviewed for the Vikings’ head-coaching job in January 2014. He reportedly made a strong impression with general manager Rick Spielman and assistant GM George Paton. Owner Zygi Wilf also spoke with Tomsula on the phone. But the Vikings hired Zimmer three days before the 49ers’ season ended with a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game.
“I’ve known of him for a while,” Zimmer said of Tomsula. “I’ve never coached with him or really been around him too much. He’s a guy who’s going to get them to play hard. You can see that on tape on both sides of the ball. They play extremely hard. They’ve always done that when he was on defense. . . So those things are all, from what I can tell, his stamps on the way things are.”
Zimmer said there was not much he and his coaching staff could derive from the 49ers’ approach during the exhibition season. The Vikings have gone back to check on the histories of 49ers coordinators Geep Chryst and Eric Mangini, but neither has served in their current coaching positions for a while. The Vikings started introducing parts of their 49ers game plan a week ago.
“The one thing we don’t want to do is we don’t want get too stale on one team,” Zimmer said. “Usually you get three days of practice each week. We’ve had a little bit more than that. We’ve practiced a little bit longer on them. We’d have a period in practice going back maybe a week or so.”
So the first game of the season becomes a guessing game. Zimmer said a good portion of the Vikings’ plan is based on what they believe the 49ers’ collection of personnel does best on offense.
“We try to look at what their strengths are and where we feel their strengths are and the things they can do with it,” Zimmer said. “Obviously, they got some really good players on that side of the ball. A lot of times it’s do what we do and be good at it.”