Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


Coach’s Corner: 5 Decisions to Victory for 49ers vs. Vikings

Gilbert Brink
Jan 6, 2020 at 6:05 PM


When the San Francisco 49ers take the field Saturday at Levi's Stadium, the players will be ready. The same thing can be said for the Minnesota Vikings. They too will be prepared for their biggest test of the season. In January, players don't need to get up for a game. If you aren't mentally prepared for a game that brings you to the doorstep of the Super Bowl, then this game might not be for you.

Knowing this, disregard the passing prowess of Kirk Cousins or the dogged intensity that Nick Bosa brings to the line of scrimmage. These two teams aren't far apart when it comes to pure talent. Each team has a formidable defense, solid running game, yet to be crowned quarterback, and very legitimate receiving threats. This Saturday's game will be determined by the men wearing the headsets.

In a somewhat rare occasion, the 49ers and Vikings bout will feature two head coaches who also act as play-callers. For the 49ers, Kyle Shanahan is the young offensive wizard from the West Coast, wielding a versatile offense that can gut the opponent with many weapons from many angles. On the opposite sideline, the Vikings are led by the grizzled defensive field general, Mike Zimmer. Artful innovation vs. decades of experience. These two head-coaches will take their fight to the battlegrounds of the mind come Saturday, and if the 49ers are to be successful, these are the five moves Kyle Shanahan must be willing to make.

Take Risks


For starters, can any 49ers fan remember the last time this team has even attempted a trick play on special teams? I, for one, have no recollection. Perhaps Dennis Erickson might. With that being said, Kyle Shanahan must be willing to take chances and trust his offense to execute while trusting his defense to have its back if it doesn't. In the past, the 49ers had games where they were too content to take a field goal. This cannot be one of those games. Playoff games aren't won 15-14, so Kyle will have to dig deep and trust his players in big spots this weekend.

Utilize Screens


Ask Drew Brees about Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffin. He is probably still seeing ghosts of them storming towards him, so I'm sure he can give you a detailed account. The Vikings' very best defensive players are lined up on the edges.

Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey should have their hands full, but vs. New Orleans, Hunter and Griffin also attacked the inside line as well. Kyle Shanahan has been inconsistent with his calling of the screen pass. There are games where he leans heavily on it (the 51-13 blowout win vs. Carolina) and ones where he completely forgets it's an offensive play (MNF vs. Seattle).

Minnesota is going to want to duplicate its performance from Sunday and will bring the pressure to Jimmy Garoppolo. It's on Shanahan to screen the Vikings defense out of its eager ways.

Moseley over Witherspoon


This one is self-explanatory for any 49ers fan who has been watching this team the last month. Emmanuel Moseley should be starting opposite of Richard Sherman. Sure, this team has high hopes for Ahkello Witherspoon, but talent-wise they are practically equal.

What Moseley does have that Witherspoon doesn't: the ability to move on from the play. One of the most important skills a defensive back can have is the ability to forget. Witherspoon too often lets one bad play turn into a bad series, which snowballs into a bad half. Kyle Shanahan sat him down on the last drive vs. Seattle and it paid off with a division title. Keep that wisdom this Saturday.

Lean on Brieda


Raheem Mostert leads all NFL running backs with 5.6 yards per carry. Minnesota will be keying on him as a large part of its defensive game-plan. This is the perfect time to re-introduce the world to "Cheetah" Matt Brieda. The once crown prince of the 49ers backfield hasn't had over six carries in a game since the November 11, 2019 loss to Seattle. During this period of down-time, Brieda has been injured, and Mostert has excelled. This lack of work has made Brieda fresher than he's been all year. Take Coleman out of the game-plan and feed Brieda and Mostert to control the clock and the game.

Keep Kittle In


George Kittle is by far the most dominant tight end the 49ers have ever had. In 2019, he produced the highest rated Pro Football Focus grade ever for a player at that position. Keep Kittle in to block. That seems like pure insanity. Not quite, Kittle is a tremendous blocker and lining him up in the backfield to provide extra help against those defensive ends will give Garoppolo ample time to find his receivers against a struggling Minnesota secondary.

Deebo Samuel is ready to explode, and with Garoppolo well protected, it will happen. Surely I'm not requesting the 49ers keep Kittle in to block the majority of the time, but more than they usually do, especially blocking out of the backfield. This will keep Minnesota guessing, allow extra pass protection, and create big opportunities to beat the Vikings pass rush with screens to their most unstoppable offensive threat.

Remember, two of the most important plays of 2019 came with Kittle lined up in the backfield. Does third-and-16 ring a bell?
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


3 Comments

  • mari5an1c0l3
    Seahawks 4 life
    Jan 7, 2020 at 2:44 PM
    1
    Response: Young and foolish i think you may be
  • Mike Kenney
    Kittle/Juice versatility including pass pro and outside zone is unique combo. No LB corps can handle the threat. Likewise, Mostert and Breida have elite speed to the corner and one cut acceleration. Again, pressure on the 2nd level is severe. Finally, Deebo running from the sloth or end around will require a LB to bring him down. I see 8 in the box out of desperation and sanders running free downfield.
    Jan 7, 2020 at 1:24 PM
    1
  • oldfoggy
    Great write-up. The wide outs should have a field day if the O line holds. So the Kittle idea works for periods. Like to see a FB pass @ 3 times as that always works when the enemy has weak corners. Score 30 and this game is in the bag.
    Jan 7, 2020 at 9:10 AM
    1
    Response: Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I have a feeling the key to beating these Vikings is to go away from our conventional stuff, as I don't think Zimmer will be able to adjust. It's going to be a tough game, but i feel that this was the toughest matchup left for us as Seattle/GB don't match up as well. Go Niners!

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Is former 49ers QB coach Rich Scangarello one of the sources for Matt Lombardo's Trey Lance tweet?

By Brian Renick
May 9

Last Thursday, Matt Lombardo of FanSided created a bit of a firestorm on 49ers Twitter when he tweeted out that the 49ers have been "continually underwhelmed by Trey Lance…" I have heard that the #49ers' staff has been continually underwhelmed by Trey Lance … https://t.co/BfypDIHzXo— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) May 5,



Are the 49ers really underwhelmed by QB Trey Lance?

By Rohan Chakravarthi
May 9

Earlier this week, reports surfaced from FanSided reporter Matt Lombardo that the San Francisco 49ers have been "continually underwhelmed" by young quarterback Trey Lance as he approaches his second season in the NFL. Lombardo further clarified that his tweet was based upon a conversation with an executive who's "pretty tight" with the 49ers, as well as members of the coaching staff last season. Unfortunately, based on the words of multiple players on the team, as well as the coaching staff and front office, that unsubstantiated claim couldn't be further from the truth. Here's a month-by-month breakdown of the comments surrounding Lance following the season, beginning with San Francisco's post-season press conferences in early



Albert Breer weighs in on Trey Lance doubts, Deebo Samuel situation with 49ers

By David Bonilla
May 9

There have been two major San Francisco 49ers storylines this offseason. The first was the quarterback situation and the transition from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance. Then, that was overshadowed by the Deebo Samuel drama that culminated in the wide receiver requesting a trade—and then being denied. On Monday, Albert Breer of MMQB joined The Rich Eisen Show and shared what he had heard about both storylines, starting with Samuel and the 49ers' strong desire to mend the broken relationship. "The messaging coming out of there is how badly [the 49ers] want him back and how important he is to their team," Breer told Eisen. Samuel was an essential factor in the team's success last season, amassing 1,770 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns for



Creating the ideal 2022 San Francisco 49ers schedule

By Wayne Breezie
May 9

As I searched the world wide web for exciting things to bring to the world, I couldn't help but draw inspiration from the great Matt Barrows of The Athletic. In a recent mailbag article, a fan presented the task of creating the ideal San Francisco 49ers schedule based on what we already know for home/away opponents. Here is my dream schedule for the 2022 49ers season. Week 1 vs. Cardinals - This would be a home game for the 49ers and must-see television. Trey Lance would get a second chance at the team that handed him his first loss. Kyler Murray vs. Lance is pay-per-view quality. Week 2 at Panthers - Now that Lance got his feet wet, he should have no problems commanding his troops against the Carolina Panthers. I


Featured

More by Gilbert Brink

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone