Here’s a few matchups I’m looking at:
CAN THE VIKINGS RUN ON THE 49ERS DEFENSE?
It will be interesting to see how the Vikings offense line fares on Sunday, with Brett Jones at center and Tom Compton at left guard, in addition to Reiff at left tackle, Remmers at right guard and Rashod Hill at right tackle.
The 49ers have DeForest Buckner on their defensive line, but even his run defense wasn’t that great last season, and everybody else along the 49ers DL was worse. Beyond that, the 49ers will be starting a couple unproven linebackers - including rookie 3rd round pick Fred Warner. Malcolm Smith missed all of last season, and hasn’t fared well in the three seasons prior to that. Smith was also limited in practice yesterday with a hamstring issue. The 49ers top LB - Reuben Foster - will be out serving a suspension.
Expect the Vikings to test the 9ers’ LBs early and often with both run and pass, which could lead to big games for Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray.
HOW GOOD IS RICHARD SHERMAN THESE DAYS?
It will be interesting if Kirk Cousins throws much into Sherman’s coverage. Sherman has been a shut-down corner for a long time, but started showing his age last season before he suffered an Achilles injury that sidelined him the rest of the season in Seattle. Now with the 9ers, and with just 34 snaps in preseason, how well will he play?
WELCOME TO THE NFL MIKE MCGLINCHEY
On offense, the 49ers will be starting rookie first-round pick Mike McGlinchey at right-tackle. He was mediocre in preseason, and will be facing off against Danielle Hunter, who may give him a rather rude welcome to the NFL.
JIMMY G VS. MIKE Z
Jimmy Garoppolo has been in the league for several years now, but still has just over a handful of games under his belt. Look for Mike Zimmer and the Vikings defense to throw a lot of different looks at him, with lots of pre-snap movement to get in his head. And if the 9ers aren’t able to put together an effective ground game without Jerick McKinnon, it could be a long and painful outing for Jimmy G, who can throw the occasional INT.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the return of the double-A gap blitz look against the 49ers’ interior OL and Jimmy G, among other things.
Sheldon Richardson had his best game (largely due to run defense) last season at the 49ers week 12. The 49ers OL outside of Joe Staley at LT (who is a stud), will be tested against the Vikings DL.
With all the issues the Vikings had in preseason on special teams, combined with the new specialists and returners, it will be interesting to see how the Vikings fare on special teams. I’m hoping for a mistake-free game on special teams, but with a new punter, kicker, holder, returner, special teams players, and new rules, anything could happen. Hopefully it will be uneventful.
The 49ers had a lot planned for Jerick McKinnon in their offense this year, so losing him for the season with an ACL tear was a big blow. Losing MLB Reuben Foster to suspension for two games will hurt too.
Still, Jimmy G looks like the real deal and he’s got a couple good receivers to throw to in Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. But Mike Zimmer and the Vikings defense in the roar of the crowd at US Bank stadium isn’t about to let a young QB steal the show, especially absent a decent ground game.
I’m looking for a dominant defensive performance from the Vikings to start the season, with an impressive ground game making things easier for Kirk Cousins in his debut as a Viking, and a comfortable Vikings win. 27-13.
The Vikings are 6.5 favorites at home against the 49ers. Will they:
This poll is closed
Beat the spread
Win, but not beat the spread