San Francisco can give Vikings a rough time
49ers shouldn't roll over in Minnesota
Sky Sports Action, 6pm Sunday
San Francisco closed last season with five straight victories and we should get a decent guide as to where Kyle Shanahan's team lie in the NFL pecking order after a difficult trip to Minnesota.
The Vikings were on the cusp of appearing in a home Super Bowl last term before being sunk by Philadelphia in the NFC Championship game.
Their defence, which had been the strongest in the league during the regular season, had a dismal night and there was plenty to stew on during the off-season.
However, there are initial signs that the favourites for the NFC North crown could be even stronger this year.
Former Redskin Kirk Cousins should prove to be an upgrade on Case Keenum at quarterback, while running back Dalvin Cook showed glimpses in four outings last season that he could be a huge asset if he benefits from an injury-free campaign.
The Vikings may not be able to run away with this one, though. It took time for Shanahan to take stock last season having gone to San Francisco following a successful spell as offensive co-ordinator at Atlanta.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo helped change the 49ers' fortunes last year when he arrived from New England - they won just one of their opening 11 matches last season - and they should prove stronger defensively with former Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman added to a roster packed with early draft picks from the last few seasons on that side of the ball.
The Vikings have to get over the hangover of their 38-7 humbling against the Eagles and there will be a great deal of expectation at the US Bank Stadium.
But the tide definitely looks to be turning in San Francisco and while it may prove beyond them to beat one of the Super Bowl favourites in their own backyard, a seven-point handicap looks on the generous side and the Niners may be able to stay competitive.
San Francisco +7
1pt 20-23 Coral
Venue US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Vegas handicap San Francisco +6.5
Vegas points line 46
Linebacker Malcolm Smith is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Running back Jerick McKinnon has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes is listed as questionable with a hamstring porblem but practiced on Friday. Centre Pat Elflein is out.
The points total has gone under the line in five of the last six meetings.
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