Can the 49ers win a shootout? That was the question going into Sunday’s game against the Vikings and they answered in the affirmative with a 34-26 victory. It was their third win in a row and puts them in the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture.
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– The 49ers defense is on the field first. Azeez Al-Shaair is still the Will linebacker with Dre Greenlaw active. Greenlaw is the Sam LB.
– Three-and-out for the Vikings on their first drive. It looked like a miscommunication between QB Kirk Cousins and his receiver, but Emmanuel Moseley and Jimmie Ward were both there in coverage.
– First third-down conversion try was successful when Jimmy Garoppolo hit WR Jauan Jennings for 21 yards. Unbelievable throw from Garoppolo into a tight window.
– Interception from Garoppolo when he tried to force one into Deebo Samuel on a third-and-12. That’s a peril of getting into third-and-long. An incompletion, a false start, and a short run got the 49ers in a bad spot and Garoppolo couldn’t bail them out. He didn’t look good on that series.
– Two quick throws from Minnesota after the interception. They want nothing to do with the 49ers’ pass rush.
– The 49ers bit on a flea flicker and got beat for 29 yards. It looked like maybe Josh Norman got crossed up in coverage and left Adam Thielen to run to the middle of the field. Thielen stayed up the sideline.
– Touchdown Vikings on a fourth-and-goal from the 2. Thielen again got wide open in the back of the end zone. Two coverage breakdowns by the 49ers helped Minnesota on that series. This could be a tough day for the 49ers defense if they’re going to keep letting receivers run free.
– First Deebo Samuel carries goes for minus-four yards to bring up a second-and-14. They need to find a way to run the ball without the Samuel stuff.
– Big conversion on a third-and-13. Aiyuk found a soft spot in the Vikings’ zone and went for 37 yards. The 49ers needed that. Protection for Garoppolo was very good.
– Well, there’s a Samuel touchdown run. He went sweep off the right side and got some terrific blocking to turn the corner for a 20-yard touchdown. Jeff Wilson Jr. was on the field and had an excellent downfield block to spring Samuel.
– What a play by Charles Omenihu on a third-and-2. He flew in from the back side on a shotgun run and dragged RB Dalvin Cook down for a loss to force a punt after the 49ers’ game-tying score.
– Another failed third down. Garoppolo gets sacked on a third-and-6. He was retreating almost immediately after the snap. Probably smart by him not to try and force a throw there.
End of first quarter: 49ers 7, Vikings 7
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– A third-and-3 for the Vikings, Josh Norman got flambéed by Justin Jefferson for a 30-yard gain. He can’t cover him.
– The 49ers left Thielen alone again. It looked like rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga forgot his assignment and Cousins found his receiver for a go-ahead touchdown. It’s 14-7 and the 49ers have no answers for the Vikings receivers.
– Third-and-2, Garoppolo’s throw for TE George Kittle got knocked down. This is the problem with Garoppolo. He can’t step up and consistently make throws. He’s missed several so far, including that out to Kittle. Tough start for the QB.
– Nick Bosa got his 11th sack on a first down to put Minnesota behind the sticks. They eventually punted. It’s imperative for the 49ers’ defense that they keep the Vikings in second or third and long.
– First-and-20 throw to Elijah Mitchell and Garoppolo flat out airmailed him. He has been abysmal this afternoon.
– Whew. There’s a seed from Garoppolo to Brandon Aiyuk on a third-and-11. The 24-yard pickup put the 49ers at the Vikings’ 6. That’s a sweet throw after a really rough outing so far.
– Then another nice throw to Jennings for a touchdown on a rollout to the right. A couple excellent throws cap a 15-play, 85-yard drive. For Jennings it was his second TD catch of the season and it tied this one at 14.
End of second quarter: 49ers 14, Vikings 14
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– Nice throw under pressure by Garoppolo to start the second half. He found Mitchell while under duress and the running back turned it into a 13-yard gain. Getting completions under pressure is something Garoppolo hasn’t always been great at, so finding one to get ahead of the sticks was nice.
– Whew, a 49-yard run for Samuel puts the 49ers at the Minnesota 8. He’s up to 69 rushing yards and continues to be the club’s most effective runner.
– Nice design on a screen to Kittle after a holding penalty backed the 49ers up to the Vikings’ 17. He lined up in the backfield, moved down on the snap to block then turned around to haul in the screen pass.
– It’s a Samuel rushing touchdown on the next play. Unbelievable that continues to work. He’s at 72 rushing yards and two rushing scores.
– That was quick. Cousins threw a pick right to 49ers LB Azeez Al-Shaair on the Vikings’ first play after the Samuel touchdown. One play. later Elijah Mitchell was in the end zone to put the 49ers up two scores. What an unbelievable turnaround coming out of the half.
– Yikes. A shutdown drive by the 49ers’ defense would’ve been nice, but the Vikings cruised 75 yards in five plays to make it 28-20, but kicker Greg Joseph missed the extra point. Minnesota had a double pass that went for 24 yards, and a 30-yard run by Dalvin Cook. They can’t keep giving up chunk plays.
– Another big play to Aiyuk. Garoppolo connected with him for 30 yards to open the 49ers’ series after the Vikings touchdown. The drive stalled out, but it’s so clear how important Aiyuk is to this passing attack. Having him involved has done wonders for Garoppolo. Aiyuk after that catch is up to 91 yards on three catches.
– The run game is stalling out a bit. The 49ers had to settle for a 46-yard field goal after two runs went nowhere and a Garoppolo shot to Samuel fell incomplete. His throw was there, Samuel was just well-covered. It’s 31-20, 49ers
– That didn’t take long. Kene Nwangwu returned the ensuing kick 99 yards for a touchdown after the field goal. It felt like that was coming. He’s had a couple really nice returns and this one goes the distance to make it 31-26 after a failed two-point conversion by the Vikings.
– Huge play by 49ers defensive lineman Kevin Givens as he forces Cook to fumble. Al-Shaair came up with the recovery. If San Francisco is going to continue generating takeaways like they have the last few weeks they’re going to be very tough to beat.
– Uh oh. Samuel is hurt on a run where he lost six yards. He stayed down for a long time and went to the medical tent for evaluation. San Francisco’s offense stalled with him out of the game and they settled for a field goal after the fumble.
End of third quarter: 49ers 34, Vikings 26
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– Ouch. The 49ers had Cousins scrambling and he aired out prayer for Jefferson. Josh Norman was flagged for pass interference on the play though to extend the drive. Brutal day again for the veteran CB.
– Nice pass breakup by Hufanga on a third-and-goal. It brought up a fourth-and-goal where Cousins sailed his throw over everyone. Great stand by the 49ers defense without Warner. The offense takes over at their own 4 with 9:04 left. They need a long drive in a bad way.
– Huge catch for Trent Sherfield on third-and-4. He went into traffic and took a shot right after making the catch. It’s a first down and a nice conversion for Garoppolo. The 49ers went two runs to start the drive, then a third-down pass, then a first-down run. Keeping the clock running is important, but they have to be more creative than run, run pass.
– And on cue it’s a second-down pass to Juszcyzk for 26 yards. Getting out to their own 41 will at least help flip field position if they have to punt on this series. The clock keeps winding as well.
– Robbie Gould missed a 42-yard game-sealing field goal. Now the Vikings have life. Brutal from the franchise kicker.
– Sweet pass breakup from K’Waun Williams on a third-and-8.
– Fourth-and-8 and Hufanga comes up with the pass breakup to seal it. Ball game.
Final score: 49ers 34, Vikings 26