The San Francisco 49ers will look to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they visit the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night in Minneapolis.
San Francisco (5-1) is coming off a 19-17 defeat on the road to the Cleveland Browns. The 49ers had a chance for a game-winning field goal but fell short when Jake Moody’s 41-yard attempt drifted wide right.
Now, the 49ers must regroup as they deal with injuries to several key players.
Running back Christian McCaffrey is chasing history at the same time as he deals with an injury to his oblique and ribs. His status for Monday’s game is uncertain but 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is optimistic that he will be able to play. NFL Network reported Monday that he’s expected to play.
If McCaffrey cannot go, look for Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason to share the workload. Mitchell rushed for 963 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie in 2021 but has played only eight games since then. Mason has rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns in a backup role during the past two weeks.
“Elijah, when he’s healthy, has been as good of a back as there is,” Shanahan said. “I also can’t take anything away from (Mason). Every time (Mason) has gotten an opportunity, you guys have seen how he’s done. …
“Hopefully, Christian will be good to go this week, but if not, we have a good group of backs we can rely on.”
McCaffrey enters Week 7 with an NFL-high 553 rushing yards to go along with nine touchdowns (seven rushing, two receiving). He has scored at least one touchdown from scrimmage (rushing or receiving) in 15 straight games, tying him for the all-time record with Hall of Famers Lenny Moore (Baltimore Colts), O.J. Simpson (Buffalo) and John Riggins (Washington).
Wideout Deebo Samuel (shoulder) has been ruled out for this week and next, at least, with a hairline fracture in his shoulder. Other questions linger about the status of left tackle Trent Williams (ankle) and linebacker Dre Greenlaw (hamstring). Williams is doubtful and Greenlaw is questionable.
Minnesota (2-4) is hoping to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season after holding on for a 19-13 win over the Chicago Bears last weekend. The Vikings lost their first three games but have won two of their past three contests.
Like the 49ers, the Vikings are dealing with injuries to multiple starters. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson remains sidelined by a hamstring injury, and this week the Vikings put outside linebacker Marcus Davenport on injured reserve with a sprained ankle.
Cornerback Akayleb Evans (oblique) and guard Ezra Cleveland (foot) also are hurting.
Both teams have enjoyed big performances from their defenses this season.
The 49ers lead the league in fewest points allowed per game (14.5) and lowest opponent passer rating (67.2). A pass rush led by Nick Bosa and Fred Warner will try to pressure Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has thrown for 14 touchdowns (tied with Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa for the league lead).
Minnesota also sees its pass rush as a potential key to the game. Defensive end Danielle Hunter is tied for the NFL lead with eight sacks, and defensive lineman D.J. Wonnum (two sacks) could play a bigger role with Davenport out injured.
Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks will try to follow up on his best performance of the year. Hicks had 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown last week.
This will be the teams’ first meeting since Nov. 28, 2021, when the 49ers won 34-26. The Vikings lead the all-time series 22-20-1.