Same Faces, New Places

Intriguing Game- Week One

San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings

49ers: They’ve had some down years since Jim Harbaugh resigned as their head coach. I remember the days when Jim was still there and how they were one of the best teams in the NFC and they made it to three straight conference championships, but could never get over the hump and win the big game. Now, there’s some hype surrounding them as a new season approaches and rightfully so, especially how they ended the 2017 season. If John Lynch never decided to make a trade for Jimmy Garappolo, the 49ers have the overall number one pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. They ended their season winning their final six games and look ahead to what’s to come this year. I still believe Kyle Shanahan is still the right guy to coach the 49ers and he’s an offensive minded guy that can take Jimmy G to the next level. At one time, this was one of the best defensive teams in the league and they still have a nice system that can get them back to that elite level. Their biggest signing came in March when they decided to sign a very familiar face from the NFC West and that’s Richard Sherman. For years, the knock on the San Fran defense has been their secondary and now, they have one of the best to anchor it hoping he’s healthy enough to play. They begin their season on the road against a team that almost found themselves playing in the big game in their own stadium.

Vikings: It was quite the year to remember for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. They won the NFC North for the second time in three seasons under Mike Zimmer, the offense was scoring at a high pace and the defense was punishing their opponents. It’s incredible to think that they were a game away from basically having a home game if they did advance to the Super Bowl, but they fell short to the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles. I really like their core players on offense. They have a top five tandem of receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, a nice safety valve over the middle of the field in Kyle Rudolph, a solid offensive line, a nice tandem of running backs in Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook, who returns from injury and now at quarterback, they got their guy they feel can bring them over the top. Kirk Cousins was the top quarterback in free agency this off-season and the Vikings won the sweepstakes for his services. I really didn’t expect them to get rid of Case Keenum after he put together the best season of his career, but here we are approaching the first Sunday of the NFL season and he’s elsewhere now. Since Mike Zimmer took the Vikings head coaching job, it’s not a shocker that their defense has been one of the best units in football considering he’s a defensive minded guy and they’re strong at every aspect. The defensive line punishes up front and they control the line of scrimmage, the linebackers can do a plethora of things from dropping back in coverage to making tackles in the backfield and they also have one of the best secondaries in the league with Waynes and Rhodes as the corners and Sendejo and Smith as your safeties. This is definitely a team that everyone will be watching in the NFC and they get to open up the year at home.

49ers Player To Watch: Alfred Morris- He’s a veteran that’s been around for a while and with Jerick McKinnion done for the year with an ACL injury, the ground game will be counted on him to provide balance and not allow Jimmy to do everything.

Vikings Player To Watch: Sheldon Richardson– The one thing you notice about the Vikings defensive schemes is how active they are in their front four and this guy should fit right in. Sheldon is a very athletic player who can play all four positions on the defensive line. He can shed blocks, make tackles for loss, gets “skinny” in the trenches and gets off the block and reacts at the right time.

Final Analysis: When the schedules were released in April and I saw the week one slate, this was one game that really caught my eye. A few weeks ago, a report came out that Jimmy said he was better than Tom Brady. There’s nothing wrong with thinking your better than someone, but after saying that, he’s under a microscope. The Vikings offense could be even better with the return of Dalvin Cook and you can now add him to that core of offensive players with Thielen, Diggs and Rudolph. If it all pans out, this is a scary offensive group. This offensive line of the Niners needs to be ready for the challenge of this front seven of the Vikings and they need to keep Jimmy up on his feet or else it’ll be a long day. For the Vikings, Cousins needs to pace himself and not overdo anything.

Prediction: Vikings 35 49ers 21