Without Sharrif Floyd at the three-technique tackle spot, the Vikings made do with overachieving role players such as Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen for the better part of the past two seasons.
This offseason, though, the Vikings signed former Pro Bowler Sheldon Richardson to a one-year contract, adding a dynamic three-technique tackle to the middle of a line that already included Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph and Danielle Hunter. The Vikings have more than $32 million of cap space wrapped up in the group this year. On Sunday, that looked like a prudent investment.
The group combined for two sacks, eight quarterback hits and two tackles for loss in a 24-16 win over the 49ers, setting the tone in a game where Jimmy Garoppolo completed only 15 of 33 passes and threw three interceptions. Richardson made six tackles, splitting a sack with Everson Griffen, drawing a holding penalty and hitting Garoppolo on his last interception.