|Vikings RB Adrian Peterson called Patrick Willis the best linebacker in the NFL. (AP)|
Looking back at the 2007 NFL Draft, Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson thinks it should have been pretty clear who the first two picks should have been.
The first? Himself.
The second? San Francisco LB Patrick Willis.
"I don't know why me and him weren't the No. 1 and No. 2 picks coming out," Peterson said Wednesday. "I really thought that way because I know talent when I see it and he was a guy that I respected for how he played the game. We play the game the same way, just different positions. "
The soft-spoken Willis took a much more modest stance when informed of Peterson's comments.
"We were drafted where we were drafted and I'm thankful that a team took a chance on me, whether it was the first round or the seventh round," Willis said. "Just to have an opportunity to play in the National Football League is a blessing to me and I'm going to continue do my very best and stay humble and be grateful for it every day."
What the two can agree on is that there is shared admiration for each other.
"Patrick Willis has earned that nod as the best linebacker in the game," Peterson said. "A lot of other guys that surround him make that [San Francisco] defense good too."
Peterson, who needed just nine months to return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, knows he'll have a stiff challenge on Sunday when San Francisco plays at Minnesota. The 49ers rank sixth in the NFL against the rush (63.5 ypg) and have allowed just four rushing TDs in the past 19 regular-season games.
In his first two games back since the injury, Peterson has carried 33 times for 144 yards with a pair of TDs. His average yards per carry (4.4) is slightly below his career average (4.8).
His quick recovery wasn't surprising to Willis, who worked out with Peterson coming out of college.
"Just seeing how he worked then and all the success he's had in the league," Willis said. "To see him do what he's done the past two weeks, that doesn't surprise me at all."
NFL rescinds fine to QB Smith: QB Alex Smith wore his customary San Francisco Giants hat during the postgame press conference following the team's 27-19 win against Detroit, but learned that's a no-no as far as the NFL is concerned.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks initially fined Smith $15,000, but rescinded it and issued him a warning.
LB Bakhtiari returns: The team announced it signed LB Eric Bakhtiari to a two-year contract. Bakhtiari was among the team's final cuts after the final game of the preseason, but was brought back after the league suspended Clark Haggans for three games.
"Whenever you let someone go, they're exposed to the rest of the teams in the National Football League," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, we liked Erik a lot when he was here. The effort he gave and what he did in the preseason. Excited to get him back on the field today."
Bakhtiari led the team with 2.5 sacks in the preseason and ranked second with 15 tackles. He played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego and was a player representative on the hiring committee when Harbaugh arrived.
WR Ginn back at practice: WR Ted Ginn Jr. returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since injuring his ankle in the team's third preseason game. With Ginn sidelined the first two weeks, WR Kyle Williams was active and handled punt return duties, while RB Kendall Hunter returned kickoffs.
If Ginn is ready to play Sunday at Minnesota -- which it looks like he will be -- it is unclear if Williams will be among the team's active players. Rookie WR A.J. Jenkins was active in the season opener, but was swapped for No. 3 QB Scott Tolzien against Detroit.
CB Brown fined, tweets photo of fine letter: CB Tarrell Brown was fined $5,250 for wearing red sleeves instead of white sleeves in the team's game against Detroit on Sunday. Upon receiving the letter from the NFL, Brown used his Twitter account to post a picture of the letter, which included appeal-process instructions and login information for the NFL's secure website.
RB Jacobs still rehabbing: RB Brandon Jacobs was in uniform Wednesday, but spent the early portion of practice rehabbing off to the side.