Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers
Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, California
Monday, September 14, 2015, 10:20 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: San Francisco -3 1/2
Current Line: Minnesota -2
Opening Total: 41
Current Total: 41 1/2
Opening Money Line: 49ers -195 / Vikings +168
Current Money Line: Vikings -127 / 49ers +107
After a very eventful offseason that included a new coach, numerous player retirements and suspensions, the San Francisco 49ers finally began their season Monday night. The 49ers host the Minnesota Vikings in the last game of week one.
The series is tied 22-22-1 between the Vikings and 49ers. Minnesota has won five of the last six meetings including 3 straight. Minnesota won the last meeting 24-13 in the old Metrodome in 2012. The Vikings haven’t played in San Francisco since 2007.
Last year, under first year coach Mike Zimmer, the Minnesota Vikings went 7-9. The season was marred when star running back Adrian Peterson was suspended for the season after just one game because of troubling child abuse allegations. Peterson plead guilty in November, but did not serve any jail time. He was reinstated in February and looks to return to his role as arguably the best running back in the league. The Vikings went 4-1 during the pre-season this year.
Before last year, coach Jim Harbaugh had led the 49ers to three straight appearances in the NFC Championship game and even a Super Bowl loss in 2012. Harbaugh had clashed with team owners John and Jed York and GM Trent Baalke over personnel decisions despite the on field success. Last year, after an uninspired 8-8 season, the team decided to part ways with Harbaugh. The 49ers say it was a mutual decision, but Harbaugh claims they forced him out. Either way, Harbaugh is now the head coach at his alma mater the University of Michigan. The 49ers promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach. Tomsula served as the interim coach for the 49ers in the last game of 2010 after Mike Singletary was fired. However, Tomsula has no head coaching experience except for that game. The 49ers were 1-3 in the pre-season.
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Minnesota was #27 in total offense at 316 yards per game, including 203 passing and 113 rushing yards. The Vikings were #28 in passing. Minnesota averaged 20 points per game last year. Last year, Minnesota allowed 345 yards per game on defense, including 223 passing and 122 rushing yards. The pass defense was #7 in the league but the rush defense was #25. Minnesota allowed 21.4 points per game. The Vikings were -1 in turnovers.
Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater became the starter after the second game last year. In 13 games, he threw for 2,919 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and rushed for 209 yards on 47 carries with a touchdown. Bridgewater should be better with a season under his belt and learning from Turner, one of the best offensive minds in the league. Back-ups Matt Cassell and Christian Ponder are both gone. Cassell is with the Buffalo Bills and Christian Ponder is with the Oakland Raiders. Shaun Hill will likely serve as the back-up this year, but barring injury this is Bridgewater’s show now.
Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon filled in for Peterson last year at running back. Asiata had 164 carries for 570 yards with 9 touchdowns, and also had 44 catches for 312 yards with a touchdown. McKinnon had 113 carries for 538 yards, but did not have a touchdown. He also made 27 catches for 135 yards. Both are back, but obviously they will return to the immense shadow of Peterson. He rushed for over 1,200 yards with 10 touchdowns in 2013, and also made 29 catches The Vikings also added DuJuan Harris from the rival Green Bay Packers. Fullbacks Zach Line and Rhett Ellison will also get some carries.
The Vikings traded a fifth round pick to the Miami Dolphins for receiver Mike Wallace. Last year’s leading receiver for the Vikings, Greg Jennings then signed with the Dolphins as a free agent. Wallace had 67 catches for 862 yards and 10 touchdowns last year for Miami. Jennings had 59 catches for 742 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jarius Wright had 42 catches for 588 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also had 71 rushing yards on 5 carries. Charles Johnson was signed midway through the season off the Cleveland Brown’s practice squad and became the deep threat the offense needed. He had 31 catches for 475 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cordarelle Patterson is very versatile but he seemed to regress in 2014. He had 33 catches for 384 yards and a touchdown, and also had 10 carries for 117 yards with a touchdown.
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The 49ers averaged 327 yards per game on offense, including 136 rushing and 191 passing yards. The 49ers were #11 in total offense, thanks to the #4 ranked rushing attack. The passing game was anemic though and was #30 in the league. San Francisco was #25 in scoring at 19.1 points per game. The 49ers were +7 in turnovers. San Francisco allowed 321 yards per game on defense, including 221 passing and 101 rushing. The 49ers were #7 or better in all three categories. San Francisco was #10 in points allowed at 21.2 points per game.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has seemingly regressed. Last year, he threw for 3,369 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and rushed for 639 yards on 104 carries with a touchdown. He was sacked 52 times last year. Kaepernick simply needs to play better this year and cut down on the interceptions and mistakes. Kaepernick spent 10 weeks in Arizona during the off-season working on his mechanics, and even spent some time with Kurt Warner. Blaine Gabbert is the back-up to Kaepernick.
Running back Frank Gore is now with the Indianapolis Colts. Gore rushed for 1,106 yards on 255 carries with 4 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 111 yards with a touchdown. Carlos Hyde will take over as the starting running back after rushing for 333 yards on 83 carries with four touchdowns, and making 12 catches for 68 yards.The 49ers also signed Reggie Bush from the Lions. Bush missed numerous games last year with an injury. He only rushed for 297 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also had 40 catches for 253 yards. Kendall Hunter was also supposed to be back after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. However, he reinjured the knee and is out for the season. The 49ers also drafted Mike Davis in the fourth round out of South Carolina. Fullback Bruce Miller had a handful of carries, but had 18 catches for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Receiver Anquan Boldin had 83 catches for 1,062 yards with 5 touchdowns. Michael Crabtree moved across the Bay to sign with the Oakland Raiders. He had 68 catches for 698 yards and 4 touchdowns. The 49ers signed Torrey Smith from the Ravens to replace Crabtree. Smith had 49 catches for 767 yards with 11 touchdowns. He is probable with a knee injury Stevie Johnson signed with the Chargers after making 35 catches for 435 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Vernon Davis looks to rebound from a subpar season. He had 26 catches for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. The 49ers also drafted tight ends Blake Bell (4th round, Oklahoma) and Busta Anderson (7th round, South Carolina). Receiver Jerome Simpson is suspended for six games for violating the substance abuse policy. Receivers Dres Anderson and DeAndre Smelter are both out for the season with knee injuries.
Minnesota is 5-1 ATS overall, 4-1 in road games, 5-2 against NFC teams and on grass, and 0-6 in Monday night games. Four of the last five games in this series have gone under the total.
San Francisco is 4-0 ATS in week one, 23-6 in Monday games, 0-5 at home, 0-5-1 overall, 0-3-1 against NFC teams, and 0-7 on grass. The home team is 6-2 ATS in this series recently and the underdog si 4-1 ATS in the series.
Both of these teams had eventful off-seasons. There are so many new faces of defense for the 49ers, which partly explains the 5.5 point swing from San Francisco -3.5 to Minnesota -2. I think the Vikings win a tough game on the road in a low scoring game.
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