SANTA CLARA, CALIF. – The Vikings did the safety dance before Monday night's game.
And during the game as well.
Robert Blanton started all five preseason games at strong safety and spent the vast majority of practice this summer with the first-team defense. But Andrew Sendejo got the start next to Harrison Smith against the San Francisco 49ers in the season-opening 20-3 loss at Levi's Stadium.
By the end of the game, however, Blanton was back in the lineup as the 49ers rolled up 395 total yards, including 168 rushing yards by Carlos Hyde.
Sendejo started the final three games of the 2014 season, replacing Blanton, who started the first 13. Both players had three tackles in the game.
Sendejo made a big special teams play early, blocking Phil Dawson's 28-yard field goal attempt on the opening drive of the game. San Francisco got to the Vikings 11 before attempting a 28-yard field goal, but Sendejo broke through the right side and blocked Dawson's attempt. Marcus Sherels picked up the ball and ran 45 yards to set up the Vikings in field goal range on their first possession. But they went three-and-out, with Blair Walsh missing a 44-yard field goal wide right.
During Saturday's practice, Sendejo lined up with the first-team defense during the portion of practice open to media. Afterward, coach Mike Zimmer mentioned Sendejo before Blanton when asked which of the safeties had been the steadiest this summer.
The Vikings did not address the safety position in the draft or with a meaningful signing in free agency. They like second-year safety Antone Exum, but Zimmer said he needs to see consistency from Exum.
Sendejo wasn't the only new starter on defense. Gerald Hodges, as expected, got the nod over Audie Cole and rookie Eric Kendricks to play middle linebacker in the base defense.
A new look
The Vikings entered the 2015 season with seven new starters on offense compared with the 2014 season opener, starting with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.
Their new starters included wide receivers Charles Johnson and Mike Wallace, fullback Zach Line and offensive linemen Joe Berger, Mike Harris and T.J. Clemmings.
Wallace had six catches for 63 yards in his Vikings debut, and just missed catching a long touchdown pass from Bridgewater in the first half when Antoine Bethea broke up the play in the end zone. Replays showed that Bethea could have been flagged for interference on the close play.
Berger got the start at center for John Sullivan, who had back surgery Wednesday and will miss at least the first eight weeks of the season after the Vikings placed him on injured reserve with a return designation.
Forbes Magazine released its yearly franchise valuations, and the Vikings are rated as the 18th most valuable NFL franchise.
Across the league, franchise values are up 38 percent, and the Vikings are consistent with that figure. They were valued by Forbes at $1.15 billion last year; this year, they made a leap to $1.59 billion, a 38.3 percent boost.
In 2002, the Vikings were valued at $437 million by Forbes.
In 2004, the last Forbes valuation before the Wilfs took over in May 2005 after buying the team for a reported $600 million, the team was valued right in that ballpark at $604 million.
The Dallas Cowboys are valued at $4 billion, leading every pro franchise in the world. And the average NFL team checks in at $1.97 billion — still almost $400 million more than the Vikings.
So the Vikings are worth nearly $1 billion more now than when the Wilfs bought them a decade ago.
It wasn't exactly a perfectly steady climb, though. From 2005 through 2008, the Vikings increased in value but ranked last every year in franchise value among the NFL's 32 teams.
From 2008 to 2011, the overall value actually dropped — fueled by local stadium uncertainty but also the recession and labor unrest, as several teams dropped in value.
In 2012, after a massive new TV contract was announced and the Vikings' new stadium was approved, the Vikings had a 22 percent increase — the largest in the league — to $975 million.
Ring ceremony set
Mick Tingelhoff, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in July, will be recognized at the Vikings-Chargers game on Sept. 27 at TCF Bank Stadium when he receives his Hall of Fame ring.
The Hall announced the ring ceremonies for the 2015 class, and for 43 other Hall of Famers this season.
Former 49ers standout Charles Haley received his ring in a pregame ceremony Monday night in San Francisco along with former 49ers players Jim Johnson, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Dave Wilcox and Steve Young.
•Quarterback Taylor Heinicke, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, tight end Chase Ford, offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles, defensive end Justin Trattou and linebacker Edmond Robinson were officially inactive for Monday night's game.
•Fullback Zach Line, nose tackle Shamar Stephen and rookie tight end MyCole Pruitt were active after being listed as probable heading into the game.
•The 49ers lost running back Reggie Bush (calf) to injury early in the game.
•Bruce Ellington had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter for San Francisco that was nullified by two blocking-in-the-back penalties. The teams combined for 13 penalties for 82 yards.
•Linebacker Anthony Barr led the Vikings with 12 tackles; Smith had nine and Hodges eight. Chad Greenway and Everson Griffen split the team's only sack of Colin Kaepernick.
•Five different players had sacks for San Francisco, who got to Bridgewater for a total of 54 yards in losses.
•The Vikings were 1-for-9 on third downs and 0-for-2 on fourth downs.
Staff writers Mark Craig and Michael Rand contributed to this report.