49ers defense thump Vikings, roll into NFC title game with 27-10 victory

sfgate.com: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8), is tackled by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, center, during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

Santa Clara, Calif — In the first ever NFL playoff game at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers defended its home field in dominating fashion, outlasting the visiting Minnesota Vikings 27-10 on Saturday afternoon in the NFC Divisional round for their first playoff win in six years.

With the win, the top-seed 49ers (14-3) advance to the NFC championship game for the 16th time in franchise history where they await the winner between Seattle and Green Bay on Sunday in the other NFC Divisional matchup.

In his first playoff start, Jimmy Garoppolo threw a 3-yard touchdown to wide receiver Kendrick Bourne for an early 7-0 lead. Garoppolo marched San Francisco 61 yards in eight plays after its defense forced Minnesota (11-7) to punt on their opening drive.

Garoppolo wasn’t spectacular, finishing 11-of-19 for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

“A lot of things to clean up, but we played well enough to get the win,” tight end George Kittle said. “That’s all you can ask for. Playoff football, anyone can win and we just made more plays today.”

Kittle had just three catches for 16 yards in the contest.

As a group including Kittle, San Francisco’s pass catchers (wideouts Deebo Samuel 3 catches for team-leading 42 yards, Bourne 3 catches for 40 yards, TD; and Emmanuel Sanders 2 catches for 33 yards) combined for just 11 catches for 131 yards and a score.

Minnesota quickly responded, tying the game up at 7-7 on a 41-yard touchdown throw from quarterback Kirk Cousins to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who had struggled in coverage down the stretch of the season, had great coverage on Diggs, but slipped at the 19-yard line and Diggs ran into the end zone.

But that would be Minnesota’s best highlight of the day as San Francisco would hold the Vikings to 147 yards of total offense. San Francisco’s offense racked up 308 yards total.

“The 49ers I felt were the better team today,” Cousins said after the game. “We didn’t do enough offensively to give ourselves a chance to win the game. It hurts now. Mike [Zimmer] said he was proud of the way the team fought this year, but right now, it’s just so raw. We’re kind of focused on this game and falling short. I thought the 49ers were a good team. They earned the number one seed and home field advantage throughout the way they played this season.”

San Francisco would retake the lead for good, behind the first of two rushing touchdowns by running back Tevin Coleman. Coleman capped off a 10-play, 53-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge to give the 49ers a 14-7 lead.

“Those guys did very well,” Coleman said of his offensive line. “They moved the guys back so I had clear holes to run through. So, yeah, they did a real good job.”

Coleman finished the game with 105 yards on 22 carries.

Following an interception by linebacker Eric Kendricks inside the 49ers’ own territory, Minnesota added a 39-yard field goal by kicker Dan Bailey to cut the lead to 14-10 at halftime.

On their first possession of the third quarter, San Francisco stretched its lead to 17-10 behind a 35-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould.

After Richard Sherman intercepted Cousins inside Minnesota’s territory on the Vikings’ next possession, Coleman gave the 49ers a two-score lead with his second score of the game, a 2-yard run that increased San Francisco’s lead to 24-10.

It was Sherman’s third career playoff interception. Sherman has intercepted Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and now, Cousins.

Defensively, San Francisco overpowered Minnesota’s offense all day limiting the ground game and their play-action attack. Running back Dalvin Cook couldn’t find any running lanes, rushing for just 18 yards on nine carries.

“That was the No. 1 emphasis all week,” Bosa said of the Minnesota running game. “We knew we were facing probably the best back we’ve faced all year with Dalvin, and we knew we had to earn the right to pass rush. So, that’s what we did. We took the run as serious as we could, shut it down and then we ate.”

Bosa had a great start to his playoff career, registering two of San Francisco’s six sacks on the day. The returns of defensive Dee Ford, linebacker Kwon Alexander and safety Jaquiski Tartt proved to be vital for San Francisco’s defense, that looked like its dominating self from earlier in the season.

“It was huge to have those guys back,” defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. “They’re leaders on our team, talented players, they make big plays for us. We were missing some pieces out there, but to get those guys back, we hit back on all cylinders.”

At one point, the 49ers held the Vikings’ offense without a first down for 27 minutes of game time. Minnesota had mustered just seven first downs, compared to 21 by San Francisco. The 49ers held the Vikings to 2-of-13 on third downs and dominated time of possession (38:27 to 21:33).

“We were playing good the whole game,” Armstead continued. “They got us early with the touchdown. We just locked in. We knew what they wanted to do which was run the ball. It starts with that, stopping the run. I think we did a good job with that. I saw they only had twenty something yards. Once we did that, we were able to get after the passer. When you do that, you can have a complete game and shut people out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy Football Doctors Podcast: NFL Division Playoff Weekend Edition

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Your hosts: Dr. Vasu Vaddiparty & Dr. Charlie O

Who is the best of the remaining 8 QB’s?

Which RB will bring the most bang for your buck?

What receiving corps will be the most productive?

Is there a kicker you can trust?

Which defense can get the job done?

Answers to these questions and more with the Fantasy Football Doctors!

 

San Francisco 49ers podcast with Joe Lami: Vikings-49ers all set for the big day

sfgate.com photo: Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) carries near the goal line in the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in New Orleans.

On the 49ers podcast with J Lami:

#1 For the second consecutive season the 49ers. The George Kittle went over 1,000 receiving yards for the second straight season

#2 The Vikings can’t be understated they’re a team full of surprises and beat the Saints in New Orleans last week

#3 The Vikings cold be a comeback team with quarterback Kirk Cousins and wider receiver Adam Thielen.

#4 Last play of the game in New Orleans talk about Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph who caught a four yard touchdown to eliminate New Orleans

#5 How important is home field advantage on Saturday for the 49ers

San Francisco 49ers podcasts are heard each Friday with Joe Lami at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

 

49ers set to square off against the Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round

photo from mercurynews.com: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) and quarterback Adam Cousins (8) both are jubilant following Cousins winning touchdown pass to Thielen in New Orleans last Sunday at the Superdome 

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

In the first game of Sunday’s NFC Wild Card matchup, the Minnesota Vikings stunned the New Orleans Saints, winning 26-20 in overtime to earn their first postseason road victory since Jan. 9, 2005. With the win, the Vikings will travel to Levi’s Stadium to face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round.

The Vikings have now eliminated the Saints in two of the last three postseasons. For the Saints, it makes the third-straight postseason that they were bounced out of the playoffs on the game’s final play.

Minnesota won the toss in overtime and took the ball and never looked back. The key play for the Vikings was the 43-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to Adam Thielen to move Minnesota to the Saints’ 2-yard line. On 3rd-and-4, Cousins would find Kyle Rudolph in the left corner of the end zone for the game winning score and punching the Vikings’ (11-6) ticket to Santa Clara, Calif.

The sixth-seeded Vikings’ shocking upset over the heavily favored three-seeded Saints (13-4) was largely due to the play of Cousins, who completed 19-of-31 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown.

Thielen, who fumbled on the game’s opening drive, shook off the turnover to lead all Vikings pass catchers with seven catches for 129 yards. After missing the final two games of the season, running back Dalvin Cook returned to the lineup and rushed for 94 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. Cook also registered 36 receiving yards on three catches.

Minnesota’s offense racked up 22 first downs while racking up 362 net yards on the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

For the top-seeded 49ers (13-3), it is the first time that Levi’s Stadium gets to host a playoff game in the six years that the stadium has been opened. San Francisco, who earned a much needed first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs after taking down their bitter rival, the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17 at CenturyLink Field, won the NFC West for the first time since 2012.

That season, the 49ers would advance to Super Bowl XLVII.

San Francisco is getting healthy at the right time, as they expect linebacker Kwon Alexander (torn pectoral) and edge rusher Dee Ford back in the fold for the game. Alexander, who was cleared to practice this week, had been on Injured Reserve since Week 9.

Ford missed three weeks with lingering hamstring issues.

Safety Jaquiski Tartt, who missed the final four games of the year with a fractured rib, will be ready to go Saturday.

The 49ers are 4-0 all-time in the divisional round as a top seed. Kickoff for the 49ers’ first playoff game since 2013 is at 1:35 p.m. PT and will be on NBC with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on the call. Michelle Tafoya will be reporting from the sidelines.

San Francisco 49ers Playoff podcast with David Zizmor: After surprise win in New Orleans will Vikings be a challenge for 49ers?

sfgate.com file photo: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings and Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers greet each other on the field after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the 49ers 24-16

On the 49ers podcast with David:

#1 The 49ers host the Minnesota Vikings on Sat Jan 11th at Levi Stadium. The Vikings are coming off a win in New Orleans. Can the Vikings come out and surprise the 49ers after what they did in New Orleans?

#2 The Vikings forced overtime on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for a four yard touchdown in overtime on first possession for the win.

Join David for all of the San Francisco 49ers Playoff podcast coverage at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Francisco 49ers podcast with Joe Lami: 49ers take confidence going into first playoff game since 2013

sfchronicle.com photo: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo reacts after the team beat the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Seattle

On the 49ers podcast with Joe:

#1 How much confidence going into this playoff game does the 49ers have this for many of the players is their first post season

#2 Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw just under 4,000 passing yards for the season and 30 touchdowns in an incredible year for him.

#3 It’s the 49ers first post season appearance in 2013 long overdue.

#4 George Kittle had quite a year with 1,000 receiving yards.

#5 For head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch it has to be a dream season after trying to build this team since they first started.

Joe does the 49ers podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Francisco 49ers podcast with David Zizmor: Taking a look at number one seed 49ers with home field

photo from sfgate.com: The San Francisco 49ers Nick Bosa (54) silences the Seattle Seahawks crowd on Sunday at Century Link Field

On the 49ers podcast with David:

#1 The 49ers Dan Greenlaw and Fred Warner made a crucial stop on the Seattle Seahawks Jacob Hollister within inches of scoring a touchdown that would have taken the 49ers in a whole different direction.

#2 What the 49ers NFC title means for a home field advantage and how close the game in Seattle really was.

David Zizmor does the 49ers podcasts each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Niners Win NFC West, Secure Home-Field defeat Seahawks 26-21

sfgate.com photo: Tight end Jacob Hollister #48 of the Seattle Seahawks is stopped just short of the goal line by linebacker Dre Greenlaw #57 and linebacker Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field on December 29, 2019 in Seattle,

By Joe Lami

The Niners won the NFC West by inches on Sunday night when Dre Greenlaw stopped Jacob Hollister on the goal line to defeat the Seattle Seahawks 26-21. For the fifth straight game, the game was decided on the final play, and for the third time, the Niners came out victorious.

More importantly, with the win, the Niners clinch the top seed in the NFC, clearing a path towards the Super Bowl with a first-round bye and home-field advantage.

The Niners controlled most of the heavy-weight primetime prize fight, racing out to an early 13-0 lead. Robbie Gould connected from 47 and 30 yards, while Deebo Samuel raced for 30 yards on an end-around.

Samuel finished with 100 yards for the fourth time this season, rushing for 33 on two carries and catching five balls for 102 yards, including a couple of clutch third-down conversions.

Seattle didn’t score until late in the third quarter, thanks to an 11-play 62-yard drive. Wilson capped it off, finding Tyler Lockett on a 14-yard touchdown pass.

Seattle began to roll a bit late in the third quarter, when Travis Homer became the featured back. Homer finished with ten carries for 62 yards. He was particularly successful attacking the outside left on zone rushes, averaging 6.7 yards per carry running left.

The Niners then traded blows with the Seahawks, with each team getting two touchdowns. The Seahawks made the stop and had the opportunity to win it until Greenlaw won the game with the goal-line stand.

Raheem Mostert scored both TDs for the Niners, including the eventual game-winner. He became the featured back in the second half, finishing with ten carries for 57 yards. He primarily found success attacking the interrior left-side, scoring a touchdown and finishing with 30 yards on four attempts.

Seattle fans erupted when they cut into the game, making it 19-14 on a Marshawn Lynch one-yard touchdown. The beloved Lynch finished with eight carries for 29 yards. Before Greenlaw stuff Hollister, the Seahawks were set-up on the one-yard line when a mistake led to a delay of game penalty.

Lynch was set up to score again until the Seahawks had to back up five yards, forcing them to throw, thus losing them the game.

Rookie, DK Metcalf also caught a 14-yard touchdown from Wilson with 3:36 to go, making it a one-score game. Metcalf finishes his rookie year with seven touchdowns, tied for third among first-year players.

Russ Wilson was incredible tonight for Seattle. He’s the engine that drives a mediocre team that makes them excellent. Tonight, he tallied 233 yards and two touchdowns on 25 of 40 passing. If there were an MVP at the conference level, Wilson would be the front runner to take the NFC award.

His excellence drives the Seahawks and why they’ve finished on the positive side of so many one-score games. On Sunday, he fell just short of taking the division. It also marks the first time in his career San Francisco’s beaten Wilson in Seattle; the last time they won in Washington was 2011.

The Seahawks settle for the fifth-seed and will have to travel to Philadelphia next week to kick off the playoffs. With a win, they set-up a potential rubber match in the Divisional round.

San Francisco 49ers podcast with Joe Lami: 49ers can go through Seahawks O-Line like butter on Sunday Night Football

sfgate.com photo: Seattle Seahawks work out this week included Marshawn Lynch (left) who will be playing with quarterback Russell Wilson (right) this Sunday at Century Link Field against the San Francisco 49ers

On the 49ers podcast with Joe Lami:

#1 The 49ers have a pretty good shot at getting to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on Sunday at Century Link Field due to the Seahawks questionable offensive line.

#2 The Seahawks have been hampered with allowing sacks being the seventh most in the NFL.

#3 In spite of the Seahawks acquiring Marshawn Lynch the Hawks head coach Pete Carroll is concerned about the Seattle front five and said “I hope we can make it”

#4 For the 49ers another great outing for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo last Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams going 16-27 for 248 yards, one interception and two touchdowns.

#5 Joe 49ers will be assured home field through the playoffs their first step is to take out the Seahawks in a very noisy hostile Century Link Field better known as the 12th man

Join Joe each Friday for the 49ers podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

NFC West Championship Preview: Niners-Seahawks go for the gold at Century Link Sunday

nbcsports.com file photo: The Seattle Seahawks Jadeveon Clowney (90) leaps to block San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) pass on Nov 11th at Levis Stadium. Jadeveon will be in the lineup on Sunday after suffering a core muscle injury.

By Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA–The biggest game of the year is here for the San Francisco 49ers and quite possibly since the Niners last made the playoffs in 2013 when they play the Seattle Seahawks. Sunday’s NFC West Championship game will also decide whether or not the Niners take the one seed and make the Super Bowl go through Levi’s Stadium.

Both the Niners and Seahawks are 2-2 in the last month. When they both appeared like unstoppable forces, they lost their mojo and have slumped. The Niners may have regained it last week when they came from two touchdowns behind to kicking a game-winning buzzer-beater.

While the Niners were celebrating their victory, they reclaimed the top-seed heading into the final weekend of the regular season. All thanks to Seattle’s 27-13 loss to Arizona. After racing out to a 7-0 lead, Seattle’s offense fell flat on their face after Chris Carson went down with a hip injury.

The Seahawks are decimated at running back and might prove to be their kryptonite. Carson went down just weeks after Rashaad Penny went down with a season-ending knee injury. They also lost third-stringer C.J. Prosise. With all of the injuries, they’ll see if Marshawn Lynch will be their superman, signing him to an emergency contract.

Lynch was suited up for the Oakland Raiders in 2018, playing in only six games but rushing for 376 yards and averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Without playing a single snap this season, who knows what Beastmode can bring to Seattle. But early reports could be positive.

“He looks great,” Wilson said. “He looks explosive. He looks fast. He looks strong. Quick as ever. He always has this infamous one-leg cut that he can do where he hops on one foot twice. He’s got some special things that he can do. He runs the ball hard, obviously.”

Regardless how fast or explosive Lynch looks, they’re likely bringing him back for extra pass protection for Wilson. He knows the offense and the terminology of Pete Carroll. It’s a natural fit for an emergency. The Seahawks will likely roll out Wilson after the Niners continue to look susceptible to quarterback speed outside the tackles.

Sunday’s game will also be a rematch of week 10’s Monday Night thriller. Russell Wilson threw for 232 yards and gashed the Niners for 53 yards in the overtime victory. When push came to shove, the MVP nominee showed up, and the Niners couldn’t stop him.

San Francisco’s defense continues to be one of the best defenses in the league, but they’ve have struggled of late. Over the last month, the Niners have only sacked the quarterback twice. The lack of a pass rush has allowed teams to torch the Niners. After not allowing 30 points all season, San Francisco has allowed 49, 29, and 31 points the last three games.

Teams have also discovered San Francisco’s hole in their rush defense. Allowing 111.8 per game, the Niners rank 17th in rush defense, their worst defensive stat.

After the hottest month of his career, Jimmy Garoppolo has cooled off the last two games, throwing 448 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The Niners may be slowing down at the worst stretch of the season and when it matters most. Sunday’s game will determine how their post-season road will look. If they win, they’ll earn a first-round bye, home field advantage, and an extra week to get healthy. If they lose, they’ll face a hellish path through the NFC if they wish for a Super Bowl.