Maybe it should be called the “Virtual Bowl.”
Both the 49ers and Vikings are using virtual reality technology this week to prepare for their game Monday night, although the 49ers say the new technology – and how to best use it – is a work in progress.
“A little bit here and there, but really haven’t used it too much,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “It’s something that we have to kind of progress with as the technology progresses.”
“Yeah. We have used it,” said Kaepernick’s counterpart, Teddy Bridgewater. “It’s a nice piece of equipment. It’s good to have and spend a little time on it throughout the course of the week. It gets you prepared for your next opponent.”
Six teams have signed on with STRIVR Labs of Palo Alto to provide virtual looks of their practices this season: the 49ers, Vikings, Cowboys, Saints, Cardinals and Jets. The Saints and Cardinals also face each other in Week 1.
Early each week, a STRIVR cameraman arrives at practice and films, usually while standing behind the quarterback, the scout team as it mimics the opponent’s defensive schemes. The images are then stitched together to give the user the exact, 360-degree experience a quarterback would have.
As of now, only the 49ers quarterbacks have used the technology, although it could expand to other position groups over the season. Safety Eric Reid and offensive tackle Joe Staley, for example, were on hand for STRIVR’s demonstration to the 49ers in the offseason.
Coach Jim Tomsula said the 49ers have dedicated a room for virtual reality in the stadium.
“I have put it on, our coaches have put it on, the players have put it on,” Tomsula said. “ ... It’s a pretty neat deal. If you grew up playing video games, it’s a real cool deal.”
Mr. Monday – Kaepernick is 4-0 as a starter on “Monday Night Football” with nine touchdown passes and no interceptions.
“Well, I really didn’t know that,” the 49ers quarterback said when told of his stats. “But I’ve loved playing under the lights since high school. Just kind of takes you back to the old days of being under the lights. It’s a different vibe than when you’re playing in a day game, and I think everyone likes that feeling.”
Bridgewater, meanwhile, will play in his first Monday night game.
Injuries – The 49ers have only one name on their injury report: cornerback Tramaine Brock, who was limited in practice by a hamstring strain. That’s the fewest number of injured players on any team’s report this week.
The Vikings, meanwhile, placed starting center John Sullivan on injured reserve with a designation to return after he had back surgery Wednesday.
Tight end Chase Ford (shoulder), running back Zach Line (knee) and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee) were limited in practice. Tight end MyCole Pruitt (ankle) practiced in full.