For the last couple of years, the ‘Niners, especially at home, would be the clear favorite, but things change quickly in the NFL.
San Francisco, which begins the Jim Tomsula era after the departure of Jim Harbaugh, will feature an entirely new-look defense, which was largely responsible for the team making three NFC Championships in a row from 2011 through 2013. Gone from last year’s squad are two defensive lineman (Justin Smith, Aldon Smith), two linebackers (Chris Borland, Patrick Willis) and two cornerbacks (Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox). According to Pro Football Focus (subscription needed), that’s five (not counting Cox) of San Francisco’s top 10 graded defensive players.
On the flip side, the Vikings are pegged as a favorite to improve this season. Teddy Bridgewater looks like the real deal and is entering his second season, Adrian Peterson is back after missing almost all of last year and the already talented defense got two new potential studs in rookies Trae Waynes and Eric Kendricks.
Both of these teams figure to be very different than last year, and this opener will serve as a good litmus test to see exactly where each of them stand.
Kickoff is at 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN. If you can’t get to a TV, here’s how to watch online or on mobile:
Watch Vikings vs. 49ers Online
If you have the log-in info for a cable subscription with access to WatchESPN, you can watch the game at WatchESPN.com. You’ll need a cable log-in and password, or the log-in and password of someone you know, to access the stream.
You can also watch ESPN through Sling TV, which is an online streaming service that provides coverage of a handful of channels (including ESPN and ESPN2) for a monthly fee. They offer a free seven-day trial.
For fans in the United States, NFL Game Pass allows replays of games to be watched on demand after their completion for a fee of $99.99 for the season. No live games are available under this service.
Watch Vikings vs. 49ers on Mobile
Mobile and tablet users with access to Watch ESPN can watch the game on the Watch ESPN app. As is the case with desktop, you’ll need the log-in for a cable subscription with access to ESPN. You can download the app for free in the App Store , the Google Play store, the Amazon App store or the Windows Store.
Viewers watching the game via an NFL Game Pass subscription (again, international viewers can watch live, while United States viewers can only watch on demand after the completion of the game) can watch on the NFL Mobile app. That can be downloaded for free from the Apple Store, Microsoft Store or Google Play Store.