1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
MIN 7 3 0 0 10
SF 7 7 10 3 27

The San Francisco 49ers are going to the NFC Championship game.

This, after convincingly beating to the Minnesota Vikings 27-10 in the NFC divisional round at Levi's Stadium on Saturday in a game which produced some unlikely heroes, yet also reminded fans of what the Niners defense played like early in the regular season.

One of those was wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who put the Niners on the board first with his 3-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter. Bourne was a major factor in the first half, which saw the Niners give up a 41-yard touchdown to Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs, who burned cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to tie things up at seven apiece.

The Niners pulled Witherspoon after the drive, replacing him with fellow corner Emmanuel Moseley, who subsequently made a key tackle on Vikings running back Dalvin Cook.

Cook was going to be a major focal point for San Francisco's defense, yet coordinator Robert Saleh's unit did an excellent job bottling him up to the tune of 18 rush yards on nine carries, averaging out at 2 yards per attempt. Cook added just 8 yards through the air, too.

The 49ers continued a trend of extended offensive drives, going up 14-7 by the means of a 10-play, 53-yard drive spanning 5:35 and culminating with a 1-yard rushing touchdown by running back Tevin Coleman.

Coleman, who hadn't been much of a factor in the Niners' regular-season stretch run, finished the day with 105 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, meanwhile, had himself a solid first half, going 8-of-13 for 105 yards and a touchdown to Bourne. But he also didn't see Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks in coverage, who picked off Garoppolo in the second quarter. That led to Minnesota closing the gap with a field goal, making it 14-10 in favor of San Francisco.

But the Niners got those points back early in the third quarter, thanks to a 35-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould on the team's opening second-half possession, which made it 17-10. Then the 49ers returned the interception favor on their next defensive stand, as cornerback Richard Sherman picked off Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins:


And San Francisco turned that turnover into an 8-play, 44-yard drive entirely on run plays, which resulted in Coleman's second rushing touchdown of the afternoon. Just like that, the Niners were leading 24-10.

Coleman was a hero, yes. But so was his fellow running back, Raheem Mostert, who came out of nowhere on a punt muffed by Minnesota's return specialist, Marcus Sherels, which gave the 49ers the ball back on the Vikings 10-yard line. And while the turnover didn't result in a touchdown, another Gould field goal increased the Niners' lead to 27-10 with just under 15 minutes remaining in regulation.

San Francisco's defense emulated what it looked like early in the season, thanks largely to healthy returns from linebacker Kwon Alexander and EDGE Dee Ford. As such, the Niners held Minnesota to 147 all-purpose yards, also sacking Cousins six times during the game.

The Vikings possessed the ball for just 21:33 of game clock, while the 49ers had it for 38:11 -- a testament to the Niners' defensive efforts and extended offensive drives, which allowed Minnesota a mere seven converted first downs.

The 49ers began to grind the clock in the fourth quarter, and the defense continued its mastery of shutting down Cousins and Co. Minnesota gained some garbage-time yards late, but those weren't going to be anywhere close to enough to overcome the 17-point deficit late in the game. Especially after a failed 4th-and-1 attempt gave San Francisco the ball back with just over two minutes remaining in regulation.

And while the Vikings were able to get the ball back with less than two minutes remaining, thanks to a fourth-down fumble by running back Matt Breida, the Niners merely had to grind Minnesota's chances down to nothing.

Now, there's a trip to the Super Bowl on the line for San Francisco.


MIN Team Stats SF
7 First Downs 21
147 Total Yards 308
126 Pass Yards 122
21 Rush Yards 186
1 (15) Penalties (Yds) 5 (38)
2 Turnovers 2
6 (45) Punts (Avg) 4 (42)
21:33 Time of Pos. 38:27

Vikings Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
K. Cousins 21/29 172 1 1
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
D. Cook 9 18 0 6
A. Mattison 1 3 0 3
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
D. Cook 6 8 0 4
A. Thielen 5 50 0 17
I. Smith 3 39 0 21
S. Diggs 2 57 1 41
K. Rudolph 2 4 0 3
A. Abdullah 1 7 0 7
T. Conklin 1 5 0 5
G. Bradbury 1 2 0 2
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
M. Sherels 2 1 1 0
D. Cook 1 0 1 0
A. Barr 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
D. Bailey 1/1 39 1/1 4
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
B. Colquitt 6 48.3 3 61
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
A. Abdullah 5 29 0 39
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
M. Sherels 2 0 0 0
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
E. Wilson 7-3 0 0 0
A. Barr 6-2 0 0 1
L. Joseph 5-3 0 0 0
E. Kendricks 4-4 0 1 0
H. Smith 4-4 0 0 0
X. Rhodes 4-2 0 0 0
A. Harris 4-2 0 0 0
D. Hunter 3-2 1 0 0
E. Griffen 2-1 0 0 0
S. Stephen 2-0 0 0 0
A. Sendejo 1-1 0 0 0
S. Weatherly 1-0 1 0 0
I. Odenigbo 1-0 0 0 0
Jal. Johnson 0-1 0 0 0

49ers Player Stats
Passing Cmp/Att Yds TDs INTs
J. Garoppolo 11/19 131 1 1
Rushing Att Yds TDs Lg
T. Coleman 22 105 2 11
R. Mostert 12 58 0 10
M. Breida 8 17 0 6
D. Samuel 1 6 0 6
J. Garoppolo 4 0 0 2
Receiving Rec Yds TDs Lg
D. Samuel 3 42 0 18
K. Bourne 3 40 1 21
G. Kittle 3 16 0 11
E. Sanders 2 33 0 22
Fumbles Fum Lost Rec Yds
M. Breida 1 1 0 0
R. Mostert 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG Lg XP Pts
R. Gould 2/2 35 3/3 9
Punting No Avg I20 Lg
M. Wishnowsky 4 46.5 2 56
Kickoff Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. James Jr. 1 22 0 22
Punt Returns No Avg TDs Lg
R. James Jr. 3 7 0 18
Defense T-A Sck INTs FF
F. Warner 4-3 0 0 0
N. Bosa 6-0 2 0 0
E. Moseley 5-0 0 0 0
D. Greenlaw 3-1 0 0 1
S. Thomas 3-0 1 0 0
J. Ward 2-1 0 0 0
A. Armstead 2-0 1 0 0
D. Buckner 2-0 1 0 0
S. Day 2-0 0 0 0
K. Williams 1-1 0 0 0
D. Ford 1-0 1 0 0
R. Sherman 1-0 0 1 0
J. Tartt 1-0 0 0 0
A. Zettel 1-0 0 0 0
A. Witherspoon 1-0 0 0 0
  • Peter Panacy
  • 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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