The quest for the Super Bowl starts Sunday as the Vikings welcome an upstart 49ers team to U.S. Bank Stadium. How will the Purple and Gold fare against Jimmy Garoppolo and company? The Full Press Vikings staff makes their predictions.
Madison Parkhill: Vikings 24, 49ers 19
Kyle Shanahan offenses are difficult to gameplan against, but Mike Zimmer and his talented defense are one of the best in the league. I expect Zimmer to aggressively deploy his new nickel package with George Iloka or Harrison Smith as the second linebacker and Anthony Barr as a pass rusher. This will consistently pressure Garoppolo, forcing most drives to end in punts or field goal attempts. On offense, I expect a pressured Kirk Cousins to look somewhat uneven, but another dominant early season performance by Stefon Diggs leads the Vikings to a week one win.
– Madison Parkhill writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings. Follow him @MadPark44.
Roger Dier: Minnesota 33, San Francisco 9
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo won five straight games for the 49ers at the end of last season that didn’t mean anything then and even less now. On Sunday, Garoppolo faces what was the best defense in the NFL last season and may again be this year.
The 49ers start four new linebackers and their best one, Reuben Foster, won’t be one of them; Foster is suspended for the first two games. San Francisco’s best free agent acquisition, Jerick McKinnon, tore up his knee on Saturday and is gone for the season. Cousins and his Vikings pass catchers are going to control the clock with short passes and running from Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook. The Vikings will dominate on defense.
– Roger Dier writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings and the NHL. Follow him @Dierstraits1.
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Clayton Brooks: Minnesota 27, San Francisco 10
In his three years as a full-time starter, Cousins has never won a season-opener. I believe that streak ends this Sunday. With the offseason moves that this team has made, the Vikings will have all the pressure on them to prove prognosticators that they are Super Bowl contenders. The Vikings are equipped to live up to that building, and it’ll start with a victory on their own turf. San Francisco may have found their next great quarterback in Garappolo, but they still have a number of question marks across their roster, particularly on defense. With the loss of McKinnon for the year, the 49ers run game will struggle even more than it was already likely to do even if he was healthy. The Vikings deep secondary shouldn’t have much trouble matching up with the 49er receiver group.
– Clayton Brooks writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings. Follow him @ClaytonRBrooks2.
Sam Smith: Minnesota 24, San Francisco 13
The 49ers are an up-and-coming team with a quarterback I like a lot. However, I have little faith in their ability to run the ball at all without McKinnon, and I do not think their skill position guys are enough to supplement a dearth of a running game. The Vikings defense is simply too good to allow a strong showing from a young 49ers team, regardless of how good Garoppolo may be.
As for the Vikings, I would not be surprised if it takes them a quarter or two to click. San Francisco’s defense could be a sneaky good one, particularly up the middle with DeForest Buckner. It may take a few drives both to establish Cook and get Cousins comfortable. As such, this will not be an offensive explosion, per se. However, I think the Vikings control for the majority of the game, with the outcome only appearing close due to a garbage time 49ers touchdown.
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