The 49ers, who stand at 5-1 on the year, suffered a disappointing defeat to the Cleveland Browns, and could be without several key players as stars Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel have yet to practice this week.
The Vikings, on the other hand, stand at 2-4, coming off a 19-13 over the Chicago Bears.
Heading into the game, the 49ers are seen as seven-point favorites, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, with the over/under placed at 44 points.
Here’s what you need to know about the 49ers’ opponent on Monday
Last season, the Minnesota Vikings were amongst the league’s best teams record-wise, going 13-4, which earned them the No. 3 seed in the NFC behind the Philadelphia Eagles and the 49ers.
However, when looking into the numbers, they were closer to the league average than not given their 11-0 record in one-possession games, meaning some regression was expected from them.
That has happened in 2023, as the Vikings have been in only one-possession games, going 2-4 thus far, although their defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) is actually better this season than last.
The Vikings are a clear pass-first offense, as their run game has mustered less than 50 yards on three separate occasions this season, with lead back Alexander Mattison rushing for just 3.9 yards a carry.
However, Minnesota will enter the game without star receiver Justin Jefferson, who was placed on Injured Reserve (IR) due to a hamstring injury.
Defensively, the Vikings rank around league average, giving up 331.2 yards per game (15th in NFL), 4.9 yards per play (12th in NFL), 3.7 yards per carry (9th in NFL), and 218.8 passing yards per game (17th in NFL).
Star edge rusher Danielle Hunter has been the lead story defensively, racking up eight sacks through six games, which easily leads the Vikings.
Keys to the Game
Turnover battle: The turnover battle is always a point of emphasis, but against an opponent that only fields one-score games, the topic is even more important.
The Vikings have lost the turnover battle in five of their six games this season, losing four of those contests, while San Francisco has yet to lose the turnover battle this season.
What’s astounding about the Vikings has been the rate at which they’ve accumulated fumbles; Minnesota has fumbled in five of their six games this season, including a whopping four against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.
On top of that, quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown four interceptions on the season, while the Vikings are second-to-last in the NFL with their turnovers per game.
On the other hand, San Francisco has only coughed up three turnovers this season, the best in the NFL, and has recorded 11 takeaways, including a league-high 10 interceptions.
This battle favors the 49ers, and could ultimately dictate the game.
Run game: The 49ers have been one of the more balanced teams in 2023, running the ball at a 53 percent clip heading into Week 7, the highest in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Minnesota has been the least balanced team in 2023, running the ball just 31 percent of the time, despite consistently playing in close games.
However, a resemblance between the two teams has been solid run defense to start the season; San Francisco ranks fifth with 80.2 rushing yards allowed per game, allowing four yards per carry (15th in NFL), while Minnesota ranks 18th with 112.3 rushing yards per allowed per game, allowing 3.7 yards per carry (9th in NFL).
The 49ers were gashed on the ground last week, allowing 160 yards on 4.7 yards per carry to the Cleveland Browns, and now face off against arguably the worst rushing attack in the NFL.
If they can return to form, they’ll be able to make Minnesota one-sided offensively, a strategy that has usually led to good results for the 49ers.
On the other hand, San Francisco could be without Christian McCaffrey in Week 7, a significant loss if the running back is forced to sit out with an oblique injury.
The 49ers didn’t give backup Jordan Mason much of a workload in Week 6, even after McCaffrey departed, as their trust level in him remains questionable.
San Francisco will need to find ways to kickstart their run game to get that advantage over the Vikings in Week 7, which will be intriguing to see, especially if McCaffrey cannot go.
Kicking: It has to be said, especially against a team that consistently plays in one-possession games: kicking could be important in Week 7.
49ers rookie Jake Moody is coming off his worst game of the season, one that involved two missed field goals, including the potential game-winning 41-yarder.
Moody’s confidence will be tested in Week 7, as the kicker will likely see some opportunities to right the ship, but the 49ers cannot continue to leave points on the board, especially in close games.
Moody has seen three field goals in four of San Francisco’s six games this season, and the opportunity could be there once again versus the Vikings, who allow 22.5 points per game, good for 21st in the NFL.
On the other hand, Minnesota’s kicker, Greg Joseph, has converted on 6/7 opportunities this season, with a season-high of 53 yards.