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49ers lose Week 1 contest, fall to Vikings 24-16 in 2018 season opener

Sep 9, 2018 at 1:14 PM--

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
SF 0 3 10 3 16
MIN 3 7 14 0 24

The San Francisco 49ers were going to have a tough challenge beating the Minnesota Vikings and their top defense in Week 1. Despite hanging around in a sloppy game, the Niners fell 24-16 in a game where they had plenty of extra chances.

Opportunities were going to come few and far between for the San Francisco 49ers, as they visited the Minnesota Vikings and their strong defense at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 1. And head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad missed a major one early in the second quarter after driving the length of the field while trailing 10-3.

The Niners' first red-zone drive -- a 14-play, 69-yard drive -- made it all the way to the Vikings' 1-yard line. But running back Alfred Morris fumbled on yet another goal-line carry (it was his second fumble of the drive), which Minnesota recovered.

That was a key missed chance. And there were more for the 49ers on the defensive side of the ball.

One of the biggest issues for San Francisco was tackling, or lack thereof. With linebacker Reuben Foster (suspension) out, Brock Coyle ended up starting at WILL but missed more than a few tackles on Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and others. And Coyle's lack of speed also allowed Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins to scramble out of the pocket and pick up first downs on a number of plays.

The 49ers may have lost 24-16, but there were a number of positives for San Francisco.

Perhaps the biggest was defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who was regularly in the backfield and managed 2.5 sacks on Cousins. Including this tandem one with fellow lineman Ronald Blair:

Still, San Francisco's woes in the game were marked by missed tackles, dropped passes and failed chances. Tight end George Kittle would have had a game-tying touchdown grab in the third quarter. But the pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo slipped right through Kittle's hands. And on the following play, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne slipped on his route, allowing Garoppolo's intended pass to go right into the hands of Vikings quarterback Mike Hughes for a pick-six interception.

Those drops continued the following drive, namely a costly one by wide receiver Pierre Garçon in the end zone. While it would have been a spectacular catch had he made it, the Niners were nevertheless forced to settle for their second field goal of the game.

Overall, San Francisco was 1-of-4 in red-zone drives. But it sure was nice to see Garoppolo hit rookie wideout Dante Pettis for an impressive touchdown pass on the fly with an equally impressive grab on the other end:

Drops hurt the 49ers here a lot, as did a number of misplaced balls by Garoppolo. And yet they didn't plague Minnesota, which is a prime reason why Cousins and the Vikings offense never trailed in the game.

Defensive backs Ahkello Witherspoon and Jaquiski Tartt each gave up touchdown catches on plays where they failed to turn their heads and locate the ball. Miscues like those, combined with the numerous other areas, show why San Francisco still has a ways to go before emerging as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are a contender. So it shouldn't be too much a shock to see a relatively one-sided 49ers loss in this contest.

Garoppolo was 15-of-33 for 261 yards, the touchdown and three interceptions for a passer rating of 45.1. Meanwhile, Cousins' Vikings debut was solid enough on paper, completing 57.1 percent of his passes for 244 yards, two touchdowns and a rating of 97.8. Penalties also weren't a huge factor for the Niners. But a key neutral-zone infraction against defensive end Solomon Thomas on 4th-and-1 just ahead of the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs. That hurt.

But not as much as Garoppolo's final interception of the game to seal the Vikings win.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin exited with a leg injury but managed to return. But offensive guards Mike Person and Joshua Garnett both left with foot injuries, and linebacker Brock Coyle suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter.

Garoppolo now has a loss, the 49ers start off 0-1 and will now prepare for their home opener on Sept. 16 versus the Detroit Lions.

SF Team Stats MIN
20 First Downs 19
327 Total Yards 343
237 Pass Yards 227
90 Rush Yards 116
3 (21) Penalties (Yds) 7 (52)
4 Turnovers 1
4 (42) Punts (Avg) 6 (36)
28:51 Time of Pos. 31:09

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Garoppolo 15/33 261 1 3
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
M. Breida 11 46 0 11
A. Morris 12 38 0 14
J. Garoppolo 2 6 0 4
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
G. Kittle 5 90 0 36
T. Taylor 4 28 0 10
D. Pettis 2 61 1 39
P. Garçon 2 21 0 11
K. Juszczyk 1 56 0 56
M. Breida 1 5 0 5
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
A. Morris 1 1 0 0
D. Pettis 1 0 0 0
A. Witherspoon 0 0 1 0
R. Sherman 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
R. Gould 3/3 42 1/1 10
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
B. Pinion 4 43.5 1 48
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
D. Pettis 2 7 0 14
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
F. Warner 11-1 0 0 1
D. Buckner 3-4 2.5 0 0
J. Tartt 5-1 0 0 0
B. Coyle 4-2 0 0 0
A. Colbert 4-1 0 0 0
A. Armstead 3-2 0 0 0
E. Lee 3-1 0 0 0
K. Williams 3-0 0 0 0
C. Marsh 3-0 0 0 0
E. Mitchell 1-2 0 0 0
R. Blair 1-1 0.5 0 0
R. Sherman 0-2 0 0 0
S. Day 1-0 0 0 0
J. Ward 1-0 0 0 0
D. Jones 1-0 0 0 0
A. Witherspoon 0-1 0 0 0
S. Thomas 0-1 0 0 0

Vikings Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
K. Cousins 20/36 244 2 0
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
L. Murray 11 42 0 9
D. Cook 16 40 0 15
K. Cousins 4 26 0 13
S. Diggs 1 8 0 8
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
A. Thielen 6 102 0 34
D. Cook 6 55 0 17
S. Diggs 3 43 1 22
L. Treadwell 2 18 0 16
K. Rudolph 1 11 1 11
D. Morgan 1 9 0 9
T. Conklin 1 6 0 6
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
D. Cook 1 1 0 0
H. Smith 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
D. Carlson 1/1 48 3/3 6
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
M. Wile 6 38.3 4 56
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
M. Sherels 3 2 0 8
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
H. Smith 7-1 1 1 0
S. Richardson 4-2 0.5 0 0
D. Hunter 4-0 1 0 0
L. Joseph 4-0 0 0 1
E. Griffen 3-1 0.5 0 0
E. Kendricks 3-1 0 0 0
B. Gedeon 3-1 0 0 0
M. Hughes 3-0 0 1 0
A. Sendejo 2-1 0 0 0
T. Waynes 2-0 0 0 0
X. Rhodes 2-0 0 1 0
A. Barr 1-1 0 0 0
H. Hill 1-0 0 0 0
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.

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