49ers Rule Out 1 Star, All-Pro Doubtful

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The Minnesota Vikings face a strong opponent in Week 7. Starting the season 2-4, there isn’t much margin for error so Minnesota must enter the game with a must-win mentality. However, they will meet the San Francisco 49ers, a team that won five of their six games and is universally viewed as one of the top teams in the NFL. The injury report sparks some hope in Eagan, Minnesota.

49ers Rule Out 1 Star, All-Pro Doubtful

49ers Rule Out 1 Star, All-Pro Doubtful
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The theme leading up to the game all week has been the injury updates coming from the 49ers with a trio of stars leaving their only defeat of the season banged up. Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, and Christian McCaffrey are the three guys in the spotlight. All three are outstanding talents but their availability has been in question all week.

On Saturday, both the Vikings and their opponents released their final injury report with the game designations. Wideout Samuel has been ruled out, left tackle Williams’ status is doubtful and McCaffrey is questionable.

All three players play a big role in the dominance of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The head coach brings a wonderful scheme to the table. That combined with the talent on the roster produces an unstoppable unit. Without that talent, the chances for the Vikings increase significantly.

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Samuel forms a scary wideout duo with Brandon Aiyuk. The latter is slowly becoming one of the top receivers in the NFL while Samuel has been good for a while. A shoulder injury will keep him sidelined for a couple of games, according to Adam Schefter on X: “49ers’ HC Kyle Shanahan told reporters that WR Deebo Samuel is dealing with a hairline fracture in his shoulder and will be out the next two games leading up to the team’s bye week.”

Samuel has produced 302 receiving yards and one score in six games this season and added 95 yards on 18 carries. Shanahan has used Samuel as a running back, using his rare skill set as a big and strong wideout. His absence takes away some of San Francisco’s versatility.

Another engine of the offense is left tackle Williams. He is the player many compare Christian Darrisaw to. The young blindside protector has many similarities to the ten-time Pro Bowler, including elite quickness for a big guy but also superhuman strength, allowing them to make grown men look like toddlers.

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Williams is regarded as one of the best linemen to ever play the game and even at age 35 he continues to be one of the best players in football, neutralizing great pass-rushers week in and week out. Without him, the 49ers would miss a key to their running game as he is moving defenders on every down, creating huge running lanes in the process. He sustained an ankle injury in the Week 6 loss and hasn’t practiced all week, putting his availability in doubt.

The final key injury belongs to star running back McCaffrey. An oblique injury kept him out of practice on Thursday and Friday but he logged a limited practice on Saturday. McCaffrey is leading the NFL with 553 rushing yards and ranks second in rushing touchdowns with seven, only trailing Raheem Mostert.

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Shanahan is known for his excellent running scheme in which he has always turned average running backs into stars. That philosophy changed when general manager John Lynch pulled the trigger and traded for the aging but still great running back. Since he joined the team, they became virtually unbeatable, only losing against the Eagles in the NFC Championship game (when they didn’t have anyone to throw the ball for the majority of the game), and against the Browns last week.

In addition to the three offensive stars, the 49ers list linebacker Dre Greenlaw as questionable. He is an overlooked Pro Bowl-caliber talent on the stacked defense.

In addition to star receiver Justin Jefferson who is on IR with his hamstring injury, left guard Ezra Cleveland will miss the contest, allowing Dalton Risner to get his first start for his new team. Cornerback Akayleb Evans and receiver Jalen Nailor are listed as questionable. Both practiced on a limited basis all week. Evans’ possible absence could lead to a large role for former second-round pick Andrew Booth.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt