49ers 27, Vikings 10: Grades

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, center, is greeted by with cornerback Richard Sherman, left, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, right, in the final minutes of the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. The 49ers won 27-10. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The 49ers played their first playoff game in six years Saturday night, and beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-10. Here are the 49ers’ grades:

GAROPPOLO: C. He won his first playoff start, and a win is a win. Plus he made some nice throws on third down as he usually does. But he was inconsistent. He completed just 57 percent of his passes. And he threw three passes that could have been intercepted — the Vikings picked off one of them. Quarterbacks often struggle during their first playoff starts, and Garoppolo was no exception. He should improve as he gains playoff experience.

RUNNING BACKS: A-MINUS. Matt Breida fumbled — that’s why this group gets a “minus.” But the other running backs were fantastic. Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman both averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Coleman rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns — he was terrific. He clearly needed the bye week to rejuvenate himself. Maybe he was injured.

WIDE RECEIVERS: B. Kendrick Bourne was the 49ers’ best wide receiver, even though he dropped two passes. He also made an extremely difficult catch over the middle and scored a touchdown. He and Deebo Samuel should be the starting wide receivers next season. Emmanuel Sanders has become an afterthought. He had two catches for 33 yards.

TIGHT ENDS: B. George Kittle had just 16 receiving yards, because the Vikings defend tight ends better than any other defense in the NFL. But Kittle didn’t need to catch lots of passes to make an impact. He was the 49ers’ best blocker, and a big reason they rushed for 186 yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE: A-MINUS. They pulverized the Vikings defensive linemen. Wore them down and made them quit. The 49ers gave up just two sacks. Mike McGlinchey gave up one of them, plus he committed a false start. The rest of the offensive line was outstanding.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A-PLUS. When Dee Ford is on the field, the 49ers have an historically good defense. He makes everyone better. Against the Vikings, he had one sack, and the rest of the defense had three. Solomon Thomas even had a sack — a rare occurrence. The defense clearly needed a week off.

LINEBACKERS: A-PLUS. Kwon Alexander returned from a torn pec, played strong-side linebacker and made two tackles. He and the rest of the linebackers didn’t have to do much, because the defensive line was so good.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: A. Richard Sherman intercepted Kirk Cousins, and Jimmie Ward made two outstanding hits. Ahkello Witherspoon gave the Vikings a quick seven points, then the 49ers benched him. His replacement, Emmanuel Moseley, was fantastic. Moseley should start the rest of the season. When Moseley, Richard Sherman, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt play together, the 49ers have a fantastic secondary.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Raheem Mostert recovered a fumble deep in Vikings territory during a punt return, and Robbie Gould made both of his field-goal attempts.

COACHES: A. Kyle Shanahan’s game plan was perfect. He didn’t force the ball to Kittle or Sanders. He featured Bourne, which was the smart move. And he found endless ways to run the ball down the Vikings’ throats. Plus, he stuck to the run game during the second half when he had a big lead, unlike during the Super Bowl three years ago. He learned. His defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, was just as brilliant. Once he and Shanahan benched Witherspoon, the Vikings offense couldn’t move the ball. Saleh will make an outstanding head coach. The Cleveland Browns would be lucky to have him.

This article has 62 Comments

  1. Saleh will not be missed. The 49ers defense is great because of the players not the play calls by Saleh.
    I wish him luck but he gets way too much credit.
    If anyone deserves credit for the defense it is John Lynch and Shanahan for their calculated and methodical blue print on building the roster.

    1. I agree prime! If he was so good where was he the last 2 yrs? If he was so good what happen when ford and tart were injured. Teams started to throw for more yards. We went from giving up 224 yrs to 335 yards. That in itself tells you who it is, The players!! Last yr at this time saleh was on the hot seat. Lucky for him We got ford , Alexander and Bosa in the off season. U want to know a good defensive coach. Vic fangio! Look what he did for our 9ers, bears and now Denver. I will not miss Saleh!

      1. Their recent interest in a GM candidate that has ties to Saleh, coupled with this defensive performance has him back in the mix.

    2. Prime, I have to disagree with you on this one.

      Sure the 49ers have a talented defensive roster, but you don’t see NFL teams put together historic stretches like the 49ers have this season, without good coaching. It takes a coordinated effort across the board in order to put on a defensive display like we saw today. I’m not suggesting Saleh is the best in the league, but he’s certainly one of the better DC’s in the NFL, IMO, and he’s also a good motivator of men. Whether or not he’d make a great HC is anyone’s guess, but I think he does have a lot of the qualities I would look for in a HC candidate.

    3. No that is an accurate analysis not stupid. Calling names at someone who doesn’t agree with you is stupid. There are three defensive coaches, currently on the 49er staff that could (and are) coordinating this defense better than Saleh. BTW who do you think decided to go with Witherspoon to start this week? Aakhello and Solly remain as indictments of talent left undeveloped. At the beginning of the season Saleh told the press that the new defensive alignment including the Wide 9, was not much different than what he’d used the first two years. Talk about blatant spin to serve as face-saving for a demotion. Fact is, another year like the first two, and Saleh was going to be gone. D’ya think Lynch of all people, was satisfied with fielding an historically worst defense. Now that would be stupid

    4. Impossible to say one way or the other. Whose idea was the wide 9 defense? Whoever that was should get some credit. No matter who the coaches are, with lesser players this would not be the same defense. All I know is that this is at times a historically great defense and as far as we can glean from the games, the DC should get a lot of the credit.

  2. This win feels almost as good as an orgasm. Let’s party for the next 24 hours, and come in Monday morning ready for business as usual. Great win, and enjoy it everyone!

  3. I would give the TEs an B+, or even an A-, for their blocking. Sure it does not show up like TD catches, but the TEs were a big reason why the run game was so effective.

  4. Garappolo played better than the C grade you gave him. That opening scoring drive he was brilliant, 5 for 6, and the one incompletion was a dropped pass.
    There were numerous dropped passes, that were near perfect throws.
    He was a great leader as usual.
    B plus.

    1. Exactly. It’s that first drive that opened up the running game for the rest of the day…which is exactly what Kyle intended. While we’re at it Sanders deployment and reliability is a huge factor in the placement of the safeties and the reason Bourne gets looks

  5. I am most grateful for not having to endure another razor-thin win! I had to watch the Seahawks game after, I was recovering from a modest illness and did not think my body could survive another close one – and I was right! Slightly unloyal but still alive!

    Let’s hope that Dee and Kwan are feeling really good after this game.

  6. The Garrapollo bashing is getting old. The game plan was to run the ball and own the line of scrimmage. Had they needed Jimmy G to throw for 400+ yards and 3 TDs, I have no doubt he would have done it.

    Not sold on Saleh as a HC just yet. I love him as our DC and he’s shown he can adapt. But you said it yourself, it’s a different team with Dee Ford in the lineup. So how much of the D’s success is Saleh playcalling vs just having a healthy star-studded line up? Either way, I hope he stays as our DC next year.

    Spot on with the Witherspoon benching and the focus on Bourne.

    Go Pack Go! I do NOT want to endure a third game against the Seahawks…especially the NFCCG. I don’t think my nerves can handle it.

  7. Great game, nice to have a big lead and hold onto it, my cardiologist will be grateful ;-). Away from the big win, super happy that we appear – touch wood – to have come out of this game without any debilitating injuries. Was worried Dee Ford was going to pull that hammy again.

    Thanks for all the great coverage Grant, your production would make any position coach happy!

  8. Happy for Jimmy Ward. He has persevered through so much adversity and now is doing great as Free Safety. Good for him. Stay healthy.

  9. Let’s the Browns have Saleh. The team is stacked with talent. It would be an attractive stop.
    I would hope the team promotes Kris Kocurek and Joe Woods to DC. Their additions with the influx of talent have made the difference on D.
    I am not enamored with Saleh.

  10. Thought Jimmy G looked tight the whole game. Lack of spirals missed reads. Better next wk against a team he has played
    The punter, though he had a nice average looked to have a little leg weariness. Maybe nothing to worry about.
    Saleh should get a HC job, but Cleve is a boneyard for coaches

    1. I agree, he was floating some balls and behind on others, not sharp. GOOD enough I guess. JG threw a td pass and also threw in the arms of the LB, he was just blind to him. He had a few other possible picks. He’ll need to real sharpen up and tighten up his passes!!!!!…. Mahomes for KC looked sharp. I think SF meets KC in the SB.

  11. Jimmy deserved a B. There were a few bad passes but there were also a few drops.
    Saleh is a good coach, all coaches do better with better players.
    The Niners dominated the line on both offense and defense. If they can continue to do this they will win next week.
    It is great to have the 49ers back in the playoffs! This has been an excellent day.

  12. Jimmy g was awesome. Set the tone for the team with that first drive

    22-5.this guy can ball aNd most importantly lead men…. BANG BANG

  13. Lamar Jackson might be the ugliest dude on tv right now and I’m including Rosie O’Donnell who I met on an airplane once.

  14. I hope we can keep Saleh one more year. I suspect it would better for him as well, not sure he’s ready for HC yet… We’ll probably be fine without him, but another year of stability is not a bad thing. SALEH may not be All That, but he’s awfully DAMN GOOD!

    Jimmy is FINE… the more reps he gets the better he gets. If we woulda needed him today he would have produced, he’s already demonstrated that. His accuracy must improve, no doubt about it. But even now he’s much better than many of y’all realize… his teammates certainly think so and I’ll trust THEIR judgment about #10.


  15. In football, as in sex, it all starts up front.
    If you don’t win up front you have no chance in the back side.
    GO NINERS!!!

    1. I apologize for my catfish. I wish to be civil and respectful. The Niners just won a crushing victory, so the focus should be there.

      1. I think we all know you and your catfishes are all one in the same. Just go away and save us from yourself. We just want to discuss football not narcissistic people like you.

        1. Maybe you do not realize this, but I advocate that the Niners avoid the self inflicted wounds.
          Why would I post ridiculous and snarky things against myself?
          I pity those who cannot tell the difference.

    2. This catfish post shows that Sebbie has officially left the building with his tail between his legs. This is not his first rodeo and not the first time that the bull kicked him in his huevos. Ironically it is his ‘own’ writing that got him to leave. When he let me have the last word on several occasions, I realized that he couldn’t cope with his own brand of vitriol any more. It was coming back at him from all sides under his own name. I guess the previous rodeo he was at, they tar and feathered him. On this more sophisticated rodeo he was forced to look in the mirror at his own writing and biting. A hard pill to swallow for a curmudgeon.
      If only he had listened to others and taken their good natured advice, we could still be indulging ourselves in his pugilistic verbosity.
      RIP Seb

  16. Jimmy G was off today but you know what? I wasn’t even worried. When he threw the pick, it was no biggie. Dude don’t care. And that’s why he’s a leader. He’s a gamer. Montana had three picks in the NFC Championship against the Cowboys.
    The Defense is back, and Shanny did the start thing. It was over when they got the FG to the start the 3rd. Jimmy didn’t care the wasn’t passing anymore.
    The Niners have a complete team. Ravens and G Roman got exposed. It was like watching Kaepernick when teams figured out the read option, although Kaep made some crazy laser throws on occasion. Lamar looked like a one trick pony.
    Seahawks are always dangerous but the Niners would be at full strength on Offense and Defense, and they are playing at home. If Russ Wilson pulls out the magic and the W, he will have to earn it.

    1. Montana had three picks in the NFC Championship against the Cowboys.

      And one pick in the division round against the Giants. So far, it’s a tie ;)

  17. I was pleasantly surprised by Coleman. He did not do any shifting and hesitating, like other times, when he was criticized for being indecisive.
    Coleman hit the holes at full speed, and sliced through the line. Guess he was coached up well, and the O line helped by providing large gaps to run through.
    In fact, I liked all of the RBs. Their tag team approach kept them fresh. The only negative was Breida’s fumble.

  18. We may not have as strong a team on defense next season. There are a lot of players due for bigger contracts and only one late first round pick before the fifth round. That means little money for free agents. Our GM has his work cut out for him despite being the front runner for a Super Bowl win.

  19. Coleman was handed the heavy lifting due to
    1/ his playoff experience (Yuge factor)
    2/ his system fit/ system awareness
    How y’all haters like him now? Pffft!

    D’s ability to to smother Cook won the game. The pass pressure was needed, but was icing.

    This young team has a maturity and poise not often found.

    Titans’ win shows how dangerous they may be.

    1. Agree with your comments, especially the D shutting down Cook won the game. Kyle Shanahan has really grown as a coach. When Sherman got the pick, the coach called running plays until they were in the endzone. They then had a three possession lead. I know its not sexy but it was time to run the ball and the clock. He did that for the rest of the game. Great Coaching job by Shanahan. He must listen to his Dad’s advice.

  20. Said it from the start.
    The rest, health and talent would be to much for this overhyped Vikings team.
    They had one big game they won and didn’t do squat all season vs playoff caliber opponents.
    The hype is real. And most of the “experts” have been sleeping on Henry and titans and 49ers.
    It’s wasn’t 31-17 but 27-10 isn’t far off of the a**whoppin I called. That team in minn isn’t in the same class.

    Tenn win me some money. Picked that upset, but I didn’t see that kind of beating they laid on the 3 week rested Ravens.
    When will coaches learn more time off doesn’t mean it works well for your team.
    Oh well bring on the seahaks for the final showdown

  21. I cant believe JIMMY took us from 4-12
    To 13-3 and winning playoff games…..saved Shanahan and lynchs jobs. Jimmy is the boss

    Pinch me, feels like the 80s and 90s again

  22. Grades……? Grades……? We don’t need no stinkin grades. When it comes to this time of the season all that counts is winning. Oh and coming out of the game healthy. Go GB I don’t want to see Seattle for a 3rd time this year.

  23. Grant you can rag on Jimmy G all you want but the fact is the 49ers wouldn’t even be in the playoffs without him as we saw last season when he went down with an injury and when are you going to admit you were totally wrong about Nick Bosa.

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