Vikings preparing for mighty 49ers, who could be down a pair of skill players

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It will be a tall task for the Vikings when they play host to the mighty San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.

To say the 49ers boast a gluttony of talent on both sides of the ball would be putting it lightly. They are dynamic on offense and dominant on defense.

That was apparent this week when head coach Kevin O’Connell was asked about the challenges of the Vikings going up against a defense that is only allowing 278 yards per game this season. He spit out a laundry list of players that included Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead on the defensive line, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw at linebacker, and Talanoa Hufanga in the secondary. After getting all the way through his answer, O’Connell realized he forgot Javon Hargrave, who is as disruptive as any player in the league up front.

“You see impactful players at all three levels,” O’Connell said. “They have maybe some of the bests at their positions.”

The only thing the Vikings might have working in their favor is the 49ers could be down some playmakers on offense. Neither running back Christian McCaffrey (oblique) nor receiver Deebo Samuel (shoulder) have practiced this week. This comes after both players left last week’s game and did not return.

As impressive as the 49ers have proven to be on offense this season, McCaffrey and Samuel have been the straw the stirs the drink more often than not. If quarterback Brock Purdy is without both of them this weekend, he might have his work cut out for him against a Vikings defense that is going to blitz the heck out of him.

Booth getting his chance

After burying him on the depth chart earlier this season, the Vikings seemed to be gaining confidence in cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. He played 26 snaps on defense against the Chicago Bears, appearing to pass rookie cornerback Mekhi Blackmon on the depth chart for the time being.

Asked about the decision this week, defensive coordinator Brian Flores praised the way Booth has been competing in practice.

The fact that Booth is slowly starting to garner more playing time is a good reminder that the timeline can look different for players.

“He continues to work his technique and fundamentals in coverage,” O’Connell said. “I was proud seeing him get in there and make an impact like he did.”

Cleveland misses practice again

The Vikings should enter Monday’s game fairly healthy. The only player who missed practice on Friday was left guard Ezra Cleveland as he works through a foot injury. He seems in danger of being ruled out, with left guard Dalton Risner serving as the next man up.

Aside from that, the Vikings listed cornerback Akayleb Evans (oblique), pass rusher Pat Jones II (shoulder) and Jalen Nailor (hamstring) as limited participants.

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