Pregame flavor from the Metrodome

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Vikings would like a new stadium to replace the Metrodome.

The flavor here isn't so bad, though, particularly from the press box.

Former Vikings coach Jerry Burns is chatting up former referee Jerry Seeman and former Vikings tight end Stu Voigt directly over my left shoulder. There's no glass separating the press box from the rest of the stadium, so there's a good feel for the environment.

I can see a few dozen fans in 49ers jerseys behind the team's bench directly across the field. And there's a guy wearing a Jerry Rice jersey walking down to his seat directly below. I saw several conflicted couples before the game, one wearing 49ers stuff and the other wearing Vikings gear.

The teams have gone back into their locker rooms one final time before kickoff.

Jerome Boger is the referee for this game. I ran across him this morning and said hello, then went back through my records to see his history with the 49ers. He has worked one of their games, a 33-30 overtime victory over the Seahawks at Qwest Field last season. Nothing too eventful to that game from an officiating standpoint.

I'll be watching the punt-return units for these teams. Allen Rossum nearly had a 75-yard touchdown return against Seattle in Week 2 (a penalty negated the return). The Vikings have allowed a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown this season. They are allowing 19 yards per punt return (while averaging a healthy 18 yards on their own returns). Perhaps a big return will shape this game.