What sort of interesting things might happen in tonight’s 49ers-Vikings game? Let’s take a few shots at it … with Six Bold Predictions.
MATT VENSEL, Vikings beat writer
In the preseason, Blair Walsh picked up where he left off in 2014 — and that’s not a good thing. The Vikings kicker missed six of his 11 field-goal attempts in the preseason, leading for calls from outside the building to at least bring in some competition for him. The Vikings insist they are still confident in Walsh, that he is close to getting his groove back. Look for him to take a step in that direction tonight by making not one but two critical second-half kicks.
MARK CRAIG, Vikings beat writer/On the NFL columnist
He’s 30, rusty, under pressure and hasn’t topped 86 yards rushing in three cracks at San Francisco’s 3-4 defense. So it only stands to reason that Adrian Peterson will post the sixth 200-yard game of his career in a 23-20 win. And, oh yeah, after the game, he will not be released or traded to Dallas before the home opener against Detroit.
JIM SOUHAN, columnist
It has become a cliche to predict that Adrian Peterson’s presence will benefit Teddy Bridgewater. The guy played well without him late last season. Tonight, the cliche will be given new life. Using play-action, Bridgewater will rely on Charles Johnson, who will top 100 receiving yards as the Vikings pull away for a victory.
CHIP SCOGGINS, columnist
An important piece to the Vikings offense returns tonight. He’s healthy and motivated to show people what he can do. Adrian Peterson? Of course. But we’re talking about tight end Kyle Rudolph, who has played only 17 games total the past two seasons because of injuries. Rudolph can flourish in Norv Turner’s offense if he can stay on the field. He will start the season on a good note by catching eight passes with one or two touchdowns in a 27-21 Vikings victory.
CHRIS MILLER, pro sports team leader/Vikings
Adrian Peterson has never caught more than seven passes in an NFL game; tonight, he’ll hit double figures in that category for the first time as Teddy Bridgewater finds him with an assortment of swing passes and check downs, and maybe a screen or two. And Peterson will have more receiving yards tonight than rushing yards.
MICHAEL RAND, digital sports editor
Xavier Rhodes took a big step toward being a shutdown corner last season, but he still has just one career interception to show for his progress. That changes Monday when he gets at least one pick of 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick — who has the arm strength of a firehose but the accuracy of that hose being operated by a Dalmatian.