After cruising to wins in their first five games of the regular season, the San Francisco 49ers have hit a major bump in the road.
Their loss at the Cleveland Browns was followed up by a 22-17 defeat at the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.
While the 49ers are still a strong team and should have ambitions to go far into the playoffs this year under head coach Kyle Shanahan, there will be growing concerns after their latest defeat in Minneapolis.
Many were singing Brock Purdy’s praises in the early weeks of the season and rightly so. The 49ers’ quarterback was stepping up to his starter role and helped San Francisco start the season 5-0.
A 42-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys to make it five wins on the spin looked like 49ers were putting out a warning to the rest of the NFL that they are a team to be feared this season.
However, San Francisco were brought right back down to earth with a 19-17 Week 6 loss to the Browns, before Monday night’s loss at the home of the Vikings in Week 7.
Throwing two interceptions on the night - both to Camryn Bynum - Purdy had a game to forget as the 49ers lost their way in the second and third quarters of the contest at U.S Bank Stadium.
It was a sloppy performance from both offense and defense for the 49ers and defensive end Nick Bosa knows they will need a response this week on home turf against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"The NFL will humble you every step of the way," Bosa said. "And getting off to a 5-0 start you kind of get that confidence that we are who we need to be, but the NFL does that.
"Good players, good schemes and we're going to face another good team this week, so we've got to be ready."
While Christian McCaffrey will be disappointed with losing a fumble in the first quarter, the 49ers running-back was still a standout performer for the visitors in Minneapolis.
Scoring two touchdowns on the night - one rushing and one receiving - the former Carolina Panthers star took his tally to eight for the season so far and maintained his streak of scoring in every game this season.
An impressive threat in the 49ers’ running game, there are growing questions on whether San Fran are over-reliant on the 27-year-old from Colorado.
Should McCaffrey's production drop off, then there will be even more pressure on Purdy to produce in the games to come, starting with the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend in California.
The 49ers are favorites at -260 ML and -5.5 on the spread to win on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, while the 3-3 Bengals are available at +215 to cause an upset and make it three defeats on the spin for San Francisco.
While much of the focus will be on how the 49ers have gone from a 5-0 team to losing their last two outings, credit should not be taken away from the Minnesota Vikings for their efforts on Monday night.
There were three turnovers from the 49ers offense and the Vikings can take plenty of credit for forcing the mistakes and applying the pressure at U.S Bank Stadium.
On offense, Jordan Addison was Cousins' favorite target with 123 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches. TJ Hockenson also contributed with 11 catches for 86 yards.
After what was a poor start to the season for head coach Kevin O’Connell and his side - with defeats to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Chargers - the Vikings have responded well.
While they did lose against reigning NFL champions Kansas City Chiefs 27-20, the Vikings have won three of their last four outings in a positive spell.
Wins over the Panthers, Chicago Bears and now the 49ers have raised expectations in Minnesota as they look to chase down the Detroit Lions at the top of the NFC North.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has now thrown 16 touchdowns for 2,057 yards and has been finding his rhythm in recent weeks. Plus, he has only thrown five interceptions this season.
The Vikings' playoff credentials will be put to the test on Sunday when they make the trip to divisional rivals the Green Bay Packers.
Minnesota are +115 ML for the win, while the Packers are -110 ML and favored by -1 on the Spread for this clash at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay is riding a three-game losing streak with losses against the Lions, Las Vegas Raiders and the Denver Broncos.
Minnesota have growing confidence after taking down the 49ers and will be looking to secure their first win at the home of the Packers since November 2020.