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.

49ers Win Huge 41-17; Start Season with Perfect Road Trip

photo from sfgate.com: Marquise Goodwin #11 of the San Francisco 49ers runs for a touchdown during the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

By Joe Lami

After not winning a single road game last year, the 49ers are off to a perfect start to their 2019 season. On Sunday, they impressively manhandled the Cincinnati Bengals 41-17 in their largest offensive road output since 2014 marking a complete 2-0 road trip.

The onslaught started early, as the defense quickly forced a three-and-out, giving the offense great starting field position on the first drive. The Niners easily capitalized as Jimmy Garoppolo found Marquise Goodwin wide open for a 38-yard score.

Garoppolo flashed what excited the faithful in late 2017 in a dominant performance, throwing three touchdowns on 17 of 25 passing for 297 yards. The Bengals challenged Jimmy G by trying to shut down his top target, George Kittle, but he spread the ball around incredibly well, finding three different receivers for scores and eight different pass catchers for receptions.

Rookie Debo Samuel led the way with five catches for 87 yards and his first career touchdown. Goodwin finished with three catches for 77 yards and a score, while Mostert got four balls out of the backfield for 68 yards and a score. Kittled finished with three catches on three targets for 54 yards.

Garoppolo had one throw he’d like back, throwing a terrible interception while targeting Richie James Jr. in triple coverage.

The passing attack was set up all by the rush, as the 49ers had their best rushing game under Kyle Shanahan, totaling 259 yards. Matt Breida was a monster, rushing for 121 yards on 12 carries, including one rush that reminisced Barry Sanders. Raheem Mostert carried 13 times for 83 yards, while Jeff Wilson Jr. came off the practice squad for ten carries, 34 yards, and two touchdowns.

On defense, the front seven was all over Andy Dalton, sacking him four times, while Kwon Alexander picked up his first interception as a Niner. They held Dalton to 311 yards, on 26 of 42 passes for two touchdowns. Dalton depended upon Tyler Boyd and John Ross as his two main targets, as both combined for 14 catches, 234 yards, and a score.

However, the Niners did lose Joe Staley with a broken left fibula in the win. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks, and it remains to be seen on whether or not he’ll be placed on the IR. After losing swing tackle Shon Coleman in the pre-season, the Niners may seek free agency or a trade to replace their all-pro left tackle.

At 2-0, the Niners now return home to host the 0-2 Steelers in their home opener. The Steelers lost 28-26 to Seattle on Sunday, very similar to Seattle’s 21-20 win over the Bengals in week one.

Join Joe for 49ers coverage each week and podcast commentary each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Garoppolo Bounces Back in Win Over Chiefs 27-17

photo from sfgate.com: San Francisco 49ers quarterback throws behind 49ers offensive guard Mike Person (68) during the first half of Saturday Night Football’s game against the host Kansas City Chiefs in the final pre season game for 2019

by Joe Lami

Jimmy Garoppolo bounced back to expectations in his second appearance of the pre-season on Saturday night. After an abysmal performance on Monday, Jimmy G threw for 188 yards completing 14 of 20 passes and adding a touchdown in his first half dress rehearsal.

Garoppolo opened the Niners scoring with a 20-yard completion to Matt Breida to cap a seven-play, 78-yard drive, in which he went 4-for-4. He completed two more drives that ended with Robbie Gould field goals. After a 0.0 passer rating against the Broncos, Garoppolo greatly improved to a 116.2.

The Niners improved to 3-0 on the pre-season by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 27-17. Most importantly, their dry run went phenomenal and gives hope that they’ll be ready when the season kicks off.

After showing strong defense all pre-season, the Niners defense got torched by MVP Patrick Mahomes on the opening drive. He found running back Damien Williams for a 62-yard quick touchdown strike. However, the defense was able to rebound by keeping Mahomes out of the end zone the rest of his night. He finished 8-of-10 for 126 yards.

Nick Mullens came in for backup duty; passing 8-of-11 for 84 yards. CJ Beathard didn’t see the field on Saturday night, which could give insight to how Kyle Shanahan is leaning for the backup spot.

Jeff Wilson Jr. is going to make cut down day difficult for the red and gold. He continues to impress, scoring two touchdowns in the second half, making the difference in the win. He finished with 45 yards on 12 carries and the two scores.

Kwon Alexander made his debut finishing with three tackles.

Damontre Moore stole the show with two sacks, five tackles, and four QB hits. Moore may be playing well enough to earn the 49ers a draft pick when they trade him since there’s just no room on the D-line for him on this team.

The Niners wrap up their preseason on Thursday at home versus the Chargers. While we won’t see most of the starters, we’ll get an in-depth look at how the 53-man roster is beginning to form.