Opponent: vs. Minnesota
Time: 7:20 p.m.
Line: Vikings by 21/2
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Records (2014): 49ers 8-8, Vikings 7-9
TV/Radio: ESPN (Chris Berman, Trent Dilfer), 810, 1320
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. The 49ers’ offensive line gave Colin Kaepernick little protection in the preseason, and the right side of the line was particularly porous. Will new right guard Jordan Devey be any more stout? And will the 49ers keep a tight end next to tackle Erik Pears to help with protection? The 49ers need all the help they can get if they want Kaepernick to have enough time to throw passes deep to Torrey Smith.
2. It’s hard to draw up a more compelling matchup. On one side of the line of scrimmage, the Vikings have perennial Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson, who missed all but one game last season after being charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child. The man trying to stop him is perennial Pro Bowl linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who missed all of the 2014 season because of a knee injury. Each man is his team’s top player, and both have something to prove.
3. Keith Reaser or Kenneth Acker? Whichever 49ers cornerback gets the nod opposite Tramaine Brock will be a first-time starter and thus a target for the Vikings’ offense. Coordinator Norv Turner loves the deep ball and has two receivers in Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson who are capable of stretching the field.
4. Whether it’s Jarryd Hayne or Reggie Bush or Bruce Ellington or DeAndrew White, the 49ers are expecting significant pop from their return game, something that was decidedly missing a year ago. That the team consistently had big returns during the preseason suggests the blocking is sound. A standout special teams could be a deciding factor for a 49ers team with an offense that could sputter at the start of the season.
5. The 49ers went 4-4 at Levi’s Stadium last year, and their home debut, a prime-time loss to the Chicago Bears, was a notable flop. The stadium, the crowd, the grass and the team will be under the spotlight again Monday night. Can they rise to the occasion?
Probable: CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring)
Probable: TE Chase Ford (shoulder), RB Zach Line (knee), TE Mycole Pruitt (ankle), DT Shamar Stephen (knee)
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