Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


Seven Advantages the 49ers Have Over the Vikings

Jan 10, 2020 at 9:15 PM2


The votes are in. The "experts" have spoken. It's almost unanimous. The 49ers are doomed, at least, that's the commentary many have offered for the upcoming Saturday playoff game between San Francisco and Minnesota.

Is this an accurate assumption? The simple answer is no. A detailed answer takes a little more doing.

This doesn't mean an upset is out of the question. Even the best teams can lose on any given game day. Last week's earthquake they called the Wild Card round certainly proved that anything is possible. What this does mean is that the 49ers, overall, have a better team and greater advantages than the Vikings.

Let's look at seven advantages the 49ers have over the Vikings this weekend.

1. Overall Team Health


This is a big one. During the season the 49ers endured a storm of injuries that could have drowned their season. San Francisco, however, battened down the hatches and weathered the storm with a 13-3 record to show for it. It seemed as though the team was never without some major injury that affected each game.

Well, that has all changed. With the return of Kwon Alexander (who we'll talk about in more detail) and Jaquiski Tartt and the slim possibility of a return for Dee Ford, the 49ers can recapture the complete chemistry they developed earlier in the year.

Ford's presence would certainly relieve some of the double-teams Nick Bosa has had to endure in his absence. All season, Tartt seemed to play the role of unsung hero until his injury proved how important he is to San Francisco's defense. In his absence, the secondary struggled as opposing teams picked on his replacements.

The point is the 49ers are healthier now than they have been all season. This fact shouldn't be understated as the dominating defense we all witnessed at the beginning of the season returns to the field in Santa Clara on Saturday.

2. The Return of "Legendary" Play


Two words: Kwon Alexander. One word: Legendary. If there is a defensive team leader in the 49er ranks, it's Alexander. His outstanding defensive play set the standard for everyone else while he was healthy. He was operating at a "legendary" level. That is until injury stalled his season.

Alexander's pectoral tear was a gut-punch to a nearly perfect defensive squad when he went down for what looked like the rest of the season. Although the defense shook out as one of the best in the NFL, there was a strong contrast between the Alexander-led defense and the Alexander-less defense as offensive squads lit them up during stretches.

Alexander is back. The heart of the 49ers defensive squad will beat once more, with a much better chance of beating a solid Vikings team. Needless to say, 49ers fans can certainly get excited over the return of "legendary" play.

3. Pass Rush Superiority


Yes, it's true the Vikings have a dominant pass rush of their own. If both defenses played each other, that would be relevant. But defenses don't play each other. They play the opposing offense, and that's the point I'm making here.

Kirk Cousins, who isn't exactly a shining specimen of the modern mobile quarterback, will have to contend with one of the league's fiercest pass rushing teams in the 49ers. If he can't negotiate the pocket, he'll spend most of Saturday flat on his back. If the 49ers clear Dee Ford to play on Saturday, Kirk Cousins' woes will only increase.

With an even more potent pass rush, the 49ers may bait Cousins into a few bad throws. Cousins' struggles on the big stage are well documented, and if the pass rush can harass him enough, a few errant throws may mess with his mind.

In short, the 49ers find themselves in an ideal situation with their pass rush which gives them more than a fighting chance to win against the Vikings.

4. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency


Inconsistency plagued the 49er squad from a season ago. Not so now. A 13-3 record certainly shouts one important fact: this 49ers squad has discovered consistency.

Although their defense was middle of the pack all year, Minnesota only allowed a hair under 19 points to opponents, good for eighth in the league. However, San Francisco has consistently beaten good defenses all year. This will certainly benefit them when they go up against a solid Vikings defensive squad.

With improved quarterback play and a dominant run game thrown in, the 49ers certainly have a chance to set a consistent rhythm. If they can do this, they will win.

5. Elevated Play from Jimmy G


What a difference a season makes! The Jimmy Garoppolo who wowed us for all the wrong reasons in preseason has morphed into one of the game's more exciting quarterbacks. Despite his detractors, Jimmy G has proven time-and-time again that he's ready for the big stage.

Many predict the pressure of preseason will produce glaring gaps in Garoppolo's game. They say he makes too many mistakes, and that will certainly end his season on Saturday. But here's the unvarnished truth: he doesn't have to be perfect to win this game. He just has to be Jimmy G.

It is true that turnovers are not ideal in a playoff scenario. It's also true that, at times, Garoppolo's play has given us a few ulcers and increased blood pressure. However, he has created a recipe for success that has become a meal in itself: shake off the mistakes, and never give up.

If Jimmy G can find his competitive appetite, the 49ers will win on Saturday.

6. Kyle's Knowledge of Kirk Cousins


So this may be no more than just pregame hype, but it sure seems feasible that Kyle Shanahan may have more than a few tips and tricks for the 49er defensive scheme. This centers on his knowledge of Cousins.

Is Cousins a different player than when Shanahan worked with him? Certainly! But Kyle knows Cousins' tendencies, and that can't be dismissed easily. At the very least, Shanahan can give the defense a starting point since he worked with the Vikings' signal-caller in Washington.

This knowledge may give the 49ers enough of an edge to turn the tables on a hot Minnesota offense and win on Saturday.

7. Home-field Advantage


Some contend this really isn't that important. After all, two 49er losses came at home, one to an underachieving Falcons squad. In a more general setting, three-out-of-four visiting teams claimed victory last week in a brutal Wild Card round. But, for whatever reason, the rules can change from week-to-week, and this weekend is no different.

When the raucous Santa Clara crowd gets rocking, the Vikings will find themselves under a lot of pressure when pre-game time ticks down. Add to this Minnesota had a 4-4 regular season road record in 2019, and the 49ers find themselves in a good position on Saturday.

All of this leads to one conclusion: it's unwise to saddle the 49ers with a loss before they've even hit the field. Saturday will be the litmus test which will prove if the 49ers have the chemistry to succeed in the postseason. Until then, San Francisco has already proven it's the playoff contender Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch envisioned when they took over the organization.

Regardless, this San Francisco squad has another chance to silence the critics and solidify its place in the storied history of the 49er franchise.
  • Written by:
    With fifteen years of writing experience, Bill has been around the block a time or two. Other than that he's written for a wide variety of online publications, ranging in topics from academics and education to life management and public speaking. He has also written for regional publications. However, one burning passion drives him more than most others: his obsessive loyalty to the 49ers franchise. Practically born into it, he bleeds red and gold. He also enjoys public speaking and talking about himself in the third person.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • Bill
    If our offensive line can handle the Vikings defensive pressure, this game will be over early. Everyone is talking about Jimmy G. Absolutely nobody has brought up Breida The Cheetah. Spring The Cheetah loose for a couple of big runs and the 49ers will win this handily. BUT, at the same time, if the Vikings put on the same act that the Seahawks line did against SF in Levis Stadium earlier this year, woe is us.
    Jan 11, 2020 at 10:14 AM
    0
  • PJNiner
    It will be nice for the 49ers to get their "Quan" back!!! All the pundits who are picking the Vikings are idiots!!! Home field advantage, an extra week off to get healthy and for Shanahan to scheme, and 3 losses on the last play of the game means the Vikings will win???? Why has logic suddenly been thrown out the window? Kwon vs Quan, Niners Win The Super Bowl!!!! Pundits eat their words yet again! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ibmqtcuBH6E
    Jan 11, 2020 at 5:27 AM
    0

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