The Minnesota Vikings tried to ride the momentum from their upset win in New Orleans across the country to Santa Clara. There awaited a 13-3 49er football team fresh off of their first round bye and looking to demolish anyone who stood in the way of them and their first NFC Championship Game since 2013. The 49ers were victorious, defeating the Vikings 27-10.
Kirk Cousins shut his haters up last week after playing a clean game against the New Orleans Saints. Cousins completed 61% of his passes for 242 yards in the Wild Card Round. His only passing touchdown was to Kyle Rudolph, who caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
This week was a different story. The Cousins that most football fans are used to made another appearance. The numbers weren’t bad for Cousins. He completed 72% of his passes for 172 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Richard Sherman picked off a pass to Thielen early in the second half. Cousins and the offense scored all 10 of their points in the first half.
Dalvin Cook wasn’t cookin’
As the underdog, one of the Vikings’ main focus on offense should have been controlling the time of possession. Minnesota did the exact opposite. The 49ers controlled the clock for 38 minutes opposed to Minnesota’s 21.
Part of controlling the clock is establishing a run game. Once again, the Vikings did the opposite of establishing the run. In the Wild Card round Dalvin Cook tore up the Saints defense. Cook ran 28 times for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cook also had 3 catches for 36 yards.
Against the 49ers, Cook only had 18 yards on 9 attempts. His longest rush was only 6 yards.
I can’t wrap my head around Dalvin Cook only getting 9 rushes, especially in a playoff game. The Vikings have a star at pretty much every skill position, Dalvin Cook being one of them. Cook finished the regular season with 1,135 yards while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He was one of the season’s touchdown leaders with 13. This a player you have to give the ball to more than 9 times. He needs to be a key component in your offensive attack.
When a team is down, especially by a large margin, it’s hard for them to run the ball without having the clock become their enemy. In my eyes, a running back, a star running back, should have at least 12-15 carries minimum. Let them get hit. Let them find a rhythm. The Vikings didn’t let Dalvin Cook find a rhythm and it hurt them.
The Vikings are expected to sign Dalvin Cook to a big long-term deal this offseason. Dalvin Cook’s next contract could influence the price of running backs a hefty amount.
49ers are getting closer to gold
San Francisco has been one of the laughing stocks of the NFL for the last few years. This year that all changed. It can be argued that they are the best team in football currently sitting at 14-3.
Jimmy Garoppolo had one of the best opening drives in a playoff game I have ever seen. Jimmy G came out and dropped Jimmy Dimes, completing 6 of 7 passes and finding the endzone almost immediately.
Garoppolo finished the game completing 11 of his 19 passes for 131 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
The three-headed rushing attack for San Francisco was lethal once again. Tevin Coleman had himself a day carrying the ball 22 times, racking up 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida added 58 and 17 yards respectively. The run game was extremely efficient for the 49ers as they controlled the ball for 38 of the 60 minutes.
The San Francisco 49ers won their first ever playoff game in Levi’s Stadium. Their next playoff game in Levi’s Stadium will determine who will reach SuperBowl LIV. The 49ers will either play the Green Bay Packers or the Seattle Seahawks. The best chance for the 49ers to make it to the SuperBowl will be to play Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. San Francisco played Green Bay in the regular season and defeated them 37-8. The 49ers defense held Rodgers to only 104 yards and 1 touchdown. The 49ers also didn’t allow over 100 rushing yards in that matchup. The 49ers-Seahawks matchups were a different story.
With both teams being in the NFC West they have to face each other twice a year. The 49ers split their regular season series against Seattle losing the first 27-24 and winning the last 26-21. Both games came down to the wire. Facing a team three times in a season is tough. Especially if that final meeting determines who makes it to the biggest single sporting event in the world.