The San Francisco 49ers will be without Dekoda Watson and Reuben Foster, and likely Malcolm Smith, but they face a Minnesota Vikings team that will be shorthanded as well in Week 1.
The Vikings’ offensive line has been ravaged by injuries, and they confirmed on Friday that center Pat Elflein will not play. He was ruled out with ankle and shoulder issues, and Brett Jones will start n his place. They will also be short-handed in tackle depth, with reserve Aviante Collins also ruled out.
On defense, their secondary will be missing nickel back Mackensie Alexander. That means rookie Mike Hughes will get the nod, according to Daily Norseman. Xavier Rhodes is listed as questionable, and was a full participant in Friday’s practice. He starts opposite Trae Waynes, and if he can’t go, Hughes, Marcus Sherels, and Holton Hill would all find themselves with even more playing time.
The 49ers have a tough road ahead of them, but the Vikings offensive line injuries in particular could provide an opening. The team already lost Nick Easton during training camp, replaced by Tom Compton at left guard. Brett Jones has 12 career starts at center dating back to 2015. The interior of the Vikings offensive line is where the 49ers can potentially find an advantage. The key on defense for the 49ers will be the defensive tackles, particularly on passing downs. If they don’t take advantage of this situation, it could be a long day.
Out: Aviante Collins, T (elbow), Pat Elflein, C (ankle/shoulder), Roc Thomas, RB (ankle)
Doubtful/Out: Mackensie Alexander, CB (ankle)
Questionable: Xavier Rhodes, CB (hamstring)