49ers sink Vikings to move into a playoff position

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) runs against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The San Francisco 49ers continued their resurgence on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium with a 33-26 victory or the Minnesota Vikings. With the victory, San Francisco moved into the sixth seed in the NFC playoff race and find themselves only one game behind the Los Angeles Rams for the fifth position.


The win did not come without a cost, however. San Francisco lost their best offensive player, Deebo Samuel, to a groin injury and Fred Warner went down with a hamstring injury. Samuel and Warner will be evaluated this week, and the 49ers will need both healthy to keep their current momentum going.


Here are the answers to the five questions I asked on Saturday.


1. Will Jimmy Garoppolo finally figure out Mike Zimmer’s defense? YES


Jimmy Garoppolo had a rough start to the game, but his passer rating of 90.2 was by far the best he’s put together against a Mike Zimmer defense.


During the first two 49ers’ possessions the quarterback struggled with several of his throws going high including an interception by Vikings safety Harrison Smith.


After the rough start, Garoppolo was able to settle in completing 15 of his final 20 attempts of the game for 172 yards and a touchdown.


Garoppolo was particularly good on the final drive before halftime, throwing a strike to Brandon Aiyuk over the middle of the field for 24-yards to convert on 3rd and 10. Garoppolo would then hit Jauan Jennings for a three-yard touchdown to send the 49ers into the locker room tied.


The best throw from Garoppolo in the second half came late in the fourth quarter. Nursing an eight-point lead with the ball on his own 15, Garoppolo found Kyle Juszczyk over the middle for a gain of 26-yards to get the ball out to the middle of the field. This throw allowed the 49ers to drain the clock as they took 7:08 off the clock despite Robbie Gould missing the field goal attempt


2. Can the 49ers keep the run game going? YES


The 49ers offense finished up one attempt short of 40 for the third straight game, finishing with 208 yards on 39 carries. The running game continues to be a steadying force for San Francisco, allowing them to win the time of possession battle by nearly 15 minutes.


Still nursing a broken finger on his right hand, running back Elijah Mitchell showed no issues holding onto the football. The rookie once led the way for the 49ers ground attack with 133 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
While Mitchell brought the thunder to the 49ers rushing attack, Deebo Samuel once again brought the lightning. The wide receiver once again saw the majority of his touches come on the ground, rushing for 66 yards and two touchdowns on only six carries before leaving the game late in the third quarter with a groin injury.


3. Can the 49ers defense slow down Kirk Cousins? YES


The 49ers defense struggled with Cousins early in the game. On the Vikings second possession, Cousins would find Adam Thielen down the sideline for a gain of 26-yards to set Minnesota up deep in 49ers territory. On 4th and goal Cousins would find Thielen in the back of the endzone to put the Vikings up by seven.


After a quick three and out on their next possession, Cousins was at it again driving Minnesota 80-yards to reclaim the lead. Cousins would hit all four of his attempts on the drive for 70-yards, finding Thielen in the endzone from 20-yards out for the touchdown.


One of the big moments in the contest came on Minnesota’s opening possession of the second half. After the 49ers had opened the half with a touchdown drive to take the lead for the first time in the game, Cousins would throw an interception on his first throw of the half. Cousins was trying to fit the ball in to Thielen on a short curl route, but 49ers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair stepped in front of him and took the interception down the three-yard line. San Francisco would score on the next play to take a 14 point lead they would never relinquish.


4. Can the 49ers defense stop Dalvin Cook? Not quite


Cook came into the game averaging just under 110 total yards from scrimmage per game and kept that pace up against the 49ers. Cook would be knocked out of the game with an injury late in the third quarter, but he’d made his presence felt up to that point with 103 total yards from scrimmage.


The bulk of Cook’s yardage came as the result of his receiving. Taking advantage of a 49ers defense which has struggled at times with defending screens, Cook would pick up 64 yards on 6 receptions.


San Francisco did a pretty good job of stopping Cook on the ground. Although he would finish with 39 yards on 10 carries, 30 of those yards came on one burst in the third quarter. Two carries later, Cook would take a big hit from 49ers defensive lineman Kevin Givens and fumble the ball with San Francisco recovering deep in Minnesota territory. The hit would knock Cook out of the game as he would need to be carted off the field.


5. Can the 49ers hold on to the ball? Yes


Jimmy Garoppolo’s interception on the first possession of the game ended a stretch of eight quarters without a turnover for the 49er’s offense.


They would respond by going 75-yards on only six plays to get their first touchdown of the game.


Aside from the early turnover, the 49ers played a clean game offensively.


A big part of San Francisco dominating time of possession, especially in the first half the last two weeks has come from the lack of drops, and that trend continued today.


The 49ers had two offensive possessions take more than seven minutes off the clock, important considering the quick strike ability of the Vikings offense.


Both drives would come near the end of the halves. Trailing by seven in the second quarter, the 49ers offense would run 8:20 off the clock on an 85-yard, 15 play drive that would end with San Francisco tying the game at 14 when Garoppolo hit Jennings for a touchdown.


The second time consuming drive would come after the San Francisco defense stopped Minnesota with a goal-line stand. The 49ers would then chew 7:08 seconds off the clock during a 72-yard, 12 play drive. While it would not result in any points, this drive meant Minnesota would not get the ball back until less than two minutes remained.


Although Minnesota would quickly get to the San Francisco 40, the 49ers defense would turn the Vikings away as back-to-back incompletions from Cousins would seal the victory for San Francisco.


Prediction:


49ers 24 Vikings 23

This article has 41 Comments

  1. That was a really weird game. 2 TDs on short fields from turnovers for the 49ers. A kickoff return TD and a TD on a short field for the Vikings. Feels good to get the win but not quite the performance I was hoping for from the 49ers. Mitchell and Deebo were the shining stars on offense. I saw Compton got quite a bit of playing time. Curious if Jaylon Moore was injured or benched.

    1. What? Over 400 yards offense, over 200 yards rushing? 2to 1 turnover advantage. 15 minute TOP advantage. Game only remotely close due to a couple of ST gaffs. Exactly what kind of performance were you expecting?

      1. I know you are right but it felt like the 49ers should hv won by 20 but just couldn’t put the game away. Great first drive in the 2nd half. After that the 49ers scored 13 points on 5 drives in the 2nd half. Due to turnovers the 49ers started two of those drives at the Vikings 2 yard and another at the Vikings 12 yard line. No way the Vikings should have had a chance to tie the game late in the 4th quarter. I’m happy with the win. Just felt like it shouldn’t have been close.

    2. Patriot, Moore has not been playing since halftime of the Jaguars game. Shanny’s pitiful excuse was that Compton is at the same level, and has more experience. So apparently unless Moore separates himself from Compton in terms of performance, we’re stuck with Compton. I say apparently because it’s only not clear to Shanahan that Moore is an upgrade at the position. He had a couple misses last week but c’mon it’s his first real experience.

      1. I thought I saw at the beginning of the Vikings game a screen graphic that showed Jaylon Moore was starting at RT???

      2. Despite a pitiful excuse (?) Compton had the second highest grade on the Oline. Unlike you, I trust the coaches to make the correct decisions and apparently they did again this time.

  2. Deebo is the best weapon in the NFL!!! What a dominant player. If he stays healthy, me might go down to be one of the best athlete the league has ever seen.

  3. M’ehn – that D. Cook was such a threat – the 49ers D schemed formation and plays to stop him –

    I call B.S – dude was never a threat in this game – if you are passing on 4th and Inches from the goal in the 1st quarter- your RB is not a threat

    Listen to all the sports talk – “D.Cook never got going” – only here did D.Cook was MVP – lol

    Jimmy Garoppolo finally figure out Mike Zimmer’s defense? YES

    – HOW?

    Eli-M had 133 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries – JimmyG was 17-of-26 passing for 230 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.

    common sense dictates Jimmy was just mediocre – If Jimmy had to pass in this game – we would have lost

    Plz can we get a better writer in here ?

        1. Only one guy ahead of him in the quest for the rushing title actually scored, and just once, last weekend.

          Are you still going to walk around with your chest out after that ridiculous take against Jack last weekend? Why don’t you copy and paste it here?

          I suppose George Kittle isn’t a threat either week in and week out. Right?

  4. Kshan is 37–41 (.474)

    With 6 games left – I predict Kshan will be a .500 coach end of season

    Sea
    Bengals
    Falcons
    Titans
    Texans
    Rams

    I just want the packers to start the playoff

    1. One, and others…

      How do you reconcile Shannies sub-.500 W-L record with Garoppolos .724 career W-L? Who is holding who back?

      1. Kshan is holding himself back – He outsmarts himself

        Look at the history –
        Robert Griffin Numbers were great
        Cousins – Numbers were ok-average
        Johnny Manziel* – Numbers were bad
        Brian Hoyer – Numbers were bad
        Matt Ryan – Numbers were good
        Nick Mullens – Numbers were ok-average
        C.J. Beathard – Numbers were ok-average
        JimmyG – Numbers were good

        I will remove Manziel because I doubt any coach could have convinced him football was more than the Party Life.

        The only thing common with all of them except Griffin is they all wish they can run when the play breaks down.

        The fact remains, the one quarterback who truly succeeded under Kyle Shanahan was Griffin before the injury and the soap opera.

        I know some will point to Matt going to the SB – but Matt Ryan was the #1 pick and season vet – and if he was mobile he would have avoided the sack and won the superbowl.

        You recall the second down play call – a five-step drop for Ryan and sacked by Trey Flowers.
        Go see the video – if that was Trey – Griffin or a mobile QB after a 5 step drop – Trey Flowers would not have got to him.

        JimmyG is exactly who we thought he is – Put him on the current NE team and you similar traits compared to Brady – Jones.

        It is obvious his offense needs a mobile QB but for some reason as you can see he plays QB’s who lack this asset

  5. “While Mitchell brought the thunder to the 49ers rushing attack, Deebo Samuel once again brought the lightning.” – I really like that sentence, nicely said.

    “Two carries later, Cook would take a big hit from 49ers defensive lineman Kevin Givens and fumble the ball” – sounds like great defence, but you see the injury happens before the fumble, so the release was supposingly due to the pain.

    “Although Minnesota would quickly get to the San Francisco 40, the 49ers defense would turn the Vikings away as back-to-back incompletions from Cousins” – What’s your view on the not called DPI? Dean Blandino was more on should have need called, if I understood him right.

  6. Wildcard here we come .

    1. Don’t let the final score fool you, we dominated the game. A fluke KR TD and Gould FG miss equals a 10 point swing. Total yards , TOP and first downs tell the real story of how we controlled the flow of the game. They benefited from a few large chunk plays and a blown coverage by Hafanga.

    2. We shut them down on critical 3rd and 4th downs. 3rd and 4th down conversions: Vikings: 3-11 , 49ers: 5-12

    3. According to Maiocco , Deebo is “not too concerned ” about his groin injury. Warner hamstring MRI scheduled for tomorrow. Azeez played out of his mind today.

    4. Mitchell and Deebo dominate on the ground. I kinda wish Jeff Wilson Jr was in the mix.
    5. . Aiyuk has stepped up and Jennings played well. They are also both physical downfield blockers.

    6. 3 Weeks ago the season looked lost . Now we are in solid position for a Wildcard spot and have a head-to-head tie breaker versus Rams, Eagles and Vikings.

    1. A fluke KR TD and Gould FG miss equals a 10 point swing.

      Yup exactly. A better representation of how this game was played for 59 minutes and 50 seconds would have been a final score of 37-20. And we would see different tone in the reactions from some fans and pundits.

      1. Pretty much my feeling, too. Really surprised by the ST screw ups. Gould has generally been money on these 40-50 yard kicks with no wind to speak of.

    2. Get into the playoffs and anything can happen. I still feel like the 49ers best play is still ahead of them. The Run Defense can be a lot better and the secondary continues to improve as the season goes on. Get healthy at the right time and get on a roll and this team could do some real damage in the playoffs.

      1. Yup anything could happen. It is crazy how bad this team looked a few weeks ago against AZ’s back up players. :)

        I am still not sold on this defense. I think they’ve been benefiting from the offense’s long drives and they have been creating TO’s while that was almost none existent the 1st half of the year. I’m not sure which one will show up in the playoff if we get in.

  7. I thought Dee Ford was supposed to come back for this game. Did he play?

    Seems like the medical staff allowed Dre Greenlaw to come back too soon. How is he doing?

    1. No Dee Ford was not activated for the Vikings game.
      Alas, the Niners medical staff do not have the magic 8 ball about predicting injuries that many fans have :)

      1. Mood, there was no Magic 8-ball. Shanahan was quoted last week saying there’s a chance Ford will go. Here is the quote from NinersNation (https://www.ninersnation.com/2021/11/24/22801220/49ers-greenlaw-ford-injury-updates-mitchell-vikings):

        Dee Ford and Dre Greenlaw are expected to play Sunday

        The real surprise came when Shanahan said the team would open Dee Ford’s practice window on Thursday. Ford’s expected to return to practice Thursday, and “hopefully, he’ll be good to go for Sunday,” per Shanahan.

        I expressed my excitement at the hope that he *may* go on Sunday, but I’m certainly not a predictor of injuries.

        1. Nuisance,
          My observation was at Patriot for his Greenlaw comment, not at you regarding Greenlaw. Sorry if there was any misunderstanding.

      2. 49ers led the NFL in number of players on IR last year. Also, led the NFL, BY FAR, with the highest % of their salary cap on IR at 38.5%. This year the 49ers are in the top half of the league in players on IR and in the top 10% of the NFL on % of salary cap on IR. When a players sits out for over a month with a groin injury then comes back and reinjures his groin in just a few plays, I think it’s a legitimate question to ask about the competency of the 49ers medical team.

        1. When a players sits out for over a month with a groin injury then comes back and reinjures his groin in just a few plays, I think it’s a legitimate question to ask about the competency of the 49ers medical team.

          Interesting, so you are questioning highly-trained experts who study and work on fixing soft tissues injuries for a living? I know I don’t have any background to do so. Fans can question anything, I suppose. I also know that I will have some choice words for those who would comment on my area of expertise without having any background or adequate knowledge.

          Greenlaw did not under go any surgery. His recovery from groin strain is typical of those recovering from such soft tissue injuries. They get a period of rest while monitoring the pain, and return to sports subsequently. See link below:
          https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/groin-pull#1
          The doctors and S&C staff are dependent on Greenlaw to provide accurate feedback as they ramped up his return. There is no way of knowing how well the muscle recovered beyond MRI imaging which has its limitations. The medical or S&C staff follow best known practice in these situations. The fact that the strain has again bothered him does not reflect on these folks in any way, IMO.

          49ers led the NFL in number of players on IR last year. Also, led the NFL, BY FAR, with the highest % of their salary cap on IR at 38.5%.

          You appear confused about occurrence of injuries vs. recovery from injuries. Niners had horrendous injury depletion last season — the worst in the league. The medical and S&C staff’s role is to assist in the recovery from injuries. While reducing injuries is one of many goals of the S&C staff, they cannot magically prevent injuries in a violent sport. In addition, they have little contact with the players at the most critical time for recovery from the grueling football season, i.e., the off-season. I’ve heard several ex-players comment that they think that the shortened off-season together with the increased speed of the game are the main reasons for league-wide increase in injuries.

          There is a myth that ShanaLynch fired the old S&C staff because they thought they were incompetent. Those folks found work right away (one with Minnesota, IIRC and the other somewhere else). Both Lynch and Shanahan clearly stated that they went in a different direction because they wanted the S&C staff and the medical staff to work closely — implying that there was inadequate cooperation and communication between these folks. That’s not surprising considering the Baalke culture of lousy communication.

          1. I probably get way too much amusement out of this but I find it hilarious you say lay people shouldn’t question medical experts and then you present yourself as a medical expert.

            so you are questioning highly-trained experts who study and work on fixing soft tissues injuries for a living?

            His recovery from groin strain is typical of those recovering from such soft tissue injuries.

            There is no way of knowing how well the muscle recovered beyond MRI imaging which has its limitations.

            Anyway, I’m not saying anyone did anything wrong. I’m saying it’s not wrong to question quality of medical care. Plenty of NFL players have complaints about training and medical staff on every team. I mean isn’t that what malpracitce lawsuits are all about? Just ask Tyrod Taylor. The Chargers team doctor punctured his lung when giving a pain killing injection.

        2. This year the 49ers are in the top half of the league in players on IR and in the top 10% of the NFL on % of salary cap on IR.

          Just curious — can you post the link where you found this data? Sportrac lists them tied currently with 8 other teams at 11 players right in the middle. They are 8th in cap % on IR, which would put them in the top quartile, not top 10%
          https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/injured-reserve/

          1. You used the same link I used. You’re right, I said top 10% but it should have said Top 10. 49ers are tied for 12th in the league with 11 players on IR. Several teams are also tied for 12th.

            You seem to think the 49ers Medical staff are above reproach. I say it’s not bad to question any and all experts. Scientific and mathematical data exists to judge medical professional competency. If the 49ers are drafting players with a high risk of injury then what part does the medical staff play in pre draft analysis. Once a player sustains an injury, what is the quality of care they receive and how is the evaluation handled to determine if they can return. You can look at all kinds of data. Did Jimmy G come back too soon last year? Why has Dee Ford been in and out of the lineup so often? What part did the medical professionals play in the pre draft analysis of Jevon Kinlaw’s problematic knee? What part did the medical staff play in determining if Dre Greenlaw was ready to return? I don’t view those questions as an attack. I view those questions as logical questions to ask based on the evidence available.

        3. with 2 booster shots and looking like the possibility of 1 booster shot per year – I will assume you gave up on the scientists creating vaccines long ago.

  8. Love that Seattle must play a Monday Night game in the Eastern time zone before the 49ers go to Seattle to play them next week.

  9. Seems like the Niners’ secondary is still having issues letting guys run free down the sidelines.

    Jack, Norman was playing zone and let Thielen run to the second level. It looked like the safety completely ignores him running free and focused on doubling Jefferson in the middle of the field instead. If it was indeed zone, shouldn’t the safety be rolling over? Or did Norman miss the defensive call?

    I recall the same exact situation against the Rams as well. What do you think is happening on these plays?

    Can’t remember if it was Kupp running free down the sideline.

  10. Hopefully Kshan stays with the RUN -RUN script against the Seahawks next week –

    We always want to Pass against the Seahawks – we need to run them down like we do the Rams –

    I never get the strategy against the Seahawks who always have a good pressure on our QB – why don’t we bully them with the run – we always give up on the run early and pass and SEA LB interception

    It could be a mental thing from coaches to players.

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