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Week 19 Game Recap: Minnesota Vikings 10, San Francisco 49ers 27


What you need to know

Minnesota Vikings

After dispatching the Saints last week in the Wild Card round there was a lot of optimism in Minnesota. Unfortunately, they ran into a San Francisco defense that got several key defensive players back and were well-rested. The Vikings could not get anything going on offense and tied the mark for second-fewest first downs in a playoff game with 7. Kirk Cousins was hung out to dry by his offensive line and was sacked 6 times. Dalvin Cook could not get anything going on the ground and was only given 9 carries the entire game. The Vikings kept things close going into half time at 14-10 but then were completely shut out in the second half. Cousins threw an ugly interception in the 3rd quarter that the 49ers turned into points and Minnesota looked to almost give up at that point. Marcus Sherels struggled as a punt returner and muffed a punt twice. He was able to jump on one of the fumbles but lost the other. Minnesota ranked top 10 in total yards this season but were unable to break through against the top teams in the NFL. They have their main core coming back next season but will need much better play from the offensive line to help breakthrough.

San Francisco 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo was good on play action passes, but had a few throws he would like to take back. He wasn't really needed to win this game. The running game was too much for the Vikings to handle and Tevin Coleman ran hard as the lead back ahead of Raheem Mostert, who had a calf cramp late in the game and wasn't 100% after being sick during the week. No one in the passing game had a strong fantasy line because of the game script.

Minnesota Vikings

QB Kirk Cousins, 46 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 29 - 172 - 1 TD / 1 INT
This week was a huge let down for the Viking offense. They showed an ability to move the ball when it mattered against the Saints and the offensive line was able to protect Cousins. Then this week happened and Cousins has next to no time to throw the ball. He was sacked 6 times for a loss of 46 yards. He also threw an ugly interception in the 3rd quarter when he stared down Adam Thielen and Richard Sherman was able to jump the route. The 49ers scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive and put the nail in the coffin of the Vikings before the 4th quarter even started. Cousins threw a single touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs, but it was a gift of a touchdown with the defender falling down after Diggs had to come back for the ball. It was not a great throw for Cousins and a combination of a great adjustment by Diggs and poor coverage by the 49ers. Cousins got the monkey off his back with his first playoff win last week, but not being able to win the big game will continue to follow him. Cousins will have 1 more season in his fully guaranteed deal to lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl. The window is rapidly closing for the Vikings and they will need to make vast improvements in regard to protecting Cousins to compete next season.

RB Dalvin Cook, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 18 - 0, Rec: 6 - 8 - 0 (8 targets)
It was a rough day for the Viking offense and it started with Cook. Not only did the offensive line struggle to protect Cousins, but they also could not open any holes for Cook. He tied his season-low for carries with 9 and averaged just 2 yards per carry. His longest run went for 6 yards and the running game was just not there. Cook led the team with 8 targets and made 6 catches for just 8 yards. The 49ers defense did a great job swarm tackling and did not let Cook get to the second level. The screen game that had worked so well for the Vikings this season was nowhere to be found. It was a great bounce-back season for Cook and he was able to avoid the big injury. Look for another 1,000-yard season next year as long as he can stay healthy again.

RB Alexander Mattison, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0
The Vikings just could not run the ball this week. Mattison was given a single carry for 3 yards and did not have a target in the passing attack. Mattison and Cook have a very similar skillset and he was not a great change of pace option this week. The Vikings clearly like Mattison and plan on using him as a big part of their future. Mattison should be one of the top handcuff options next season with the injury history of Cook.

WR Adam Thielen, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 50 - 0 (7 targets)
The talk all week was about the ankle injury to Thielen and if he would be able to play through the stitches. Thielen came into the game saying he was not 100% but that he was going to give everything he had. Unfortunately, the offensive line could not protect Cousins and Thielen was unable to win matchups down the field. Thielen caught 5 of his 7 targets and was second on the team with 50 yards. He trailed Dalvin Cook in targets by 1 and Stefon Diggs in yards by 7. His longest catch went for 17 yards and there was just not enough time for Cousins to push the ball down field. It was an injury-plagued season for Thielen after a true breakout last year. The Vikings are very thin at receiver and Thielen should be in line for an excess of targets again next season.

WR Stefon Diggs, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 57 - 1 (5 targets)
In what was a mediocre game by the entire Minnesota offense, Diggs managed to make 1 big play. He had the lone touchdown for the Vikings and it came on a defensive breakdown and bad coverage by the 49ers. Diggs caught 2 of his 5 targets and led the team with 57 receiving yards. His big play was a 41-yard touchdown where he just ran a stop and go route and fought underneath to make the catch. Diggs caught the ball 22 yards downfield and in fighting back for the ball his defender fell to the ground. From there it was an easy 19-yard scamper to the end zone to give Vikings fans hope. Diggs caught only 1 more target for 16 yards and was a non-factor outside of those 2 plays. It was a frustrating year for Diggs but he still finished with more than 1,000 receiving yards. Look for the Vikings to take a more balanced approach next season and get Diggs more involved.

TE Irv Smith, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (3 targets)
It was not a great day for the Viking offense, but Smith took big steps forward to be the starting tight end. He caught all 3 of his targets with his big catch going for 21 yards. He outplayed Rudolph this week and gave Vikings fans a glimpse of their future. They took him in the 2nd round for a reason and are fully invested in using him going forward. It should be an interesting conversation with Smith next year in this offense and what sort of value he will have.

TE Kyle Rudolph, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (3 targets)
After making the walk-off touchdown catch last week for the Vikings to advance, Rudolph was bottled up by a smothering 49ers defense. He caught just 2 of his 3 targets for less than 5 yards. The Vikings utilized Rudolph in more of a run blocking capacity and made the shift to Irv Smith through the air. This is what the future in Minnesota is going to look like. Rudolph is a fan favorite, but Smith is the tight end of the future.


San Francisco 49ers

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 19 - 131 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 0 - 0
Garoppolo was sharp to begin the game, with only a George Kittle drop slowing down the first drive. He found Emmanuel Sanders for a big gain to get into scoring range and then Sanders again to get into the red zone. Finally, he finished the drive with an easy play action pass to Kendrick Bourne. On the second drive, Garoppolo kept it alive with a third and long desperation duck to Bourne that worked, but he was sacked and almost picked later as the drive stalled out. On the second touchdown drive he got some yards after catch help from Deebo Samuel, but couldn't convert on a sneak after Samuel set the team up at the one. He was picked by Eric Kendricks in his own end late in the second quarter when he failed to read him dropping into coverage. In the third quarter, Garoppolo had one excellent third down conversion to Bourne when he negotiated the pocket well, but mostly wasn't needed to close out the win in the second half. He did have a chance to get a second touchdown pass in the second half with a screen and shovel pass to George Kittle on goal to go plays, but both were stopped.

RB Tevin Coleman, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 105 - 2
Coleman got the start with Raheem Mostert not at 100% in this game and he ran hard with a good burst at the point of attack. He was often down on first contact and running in a linear fashion without much nuance as usual, but as the game went on, the holes got bigger and Coleman almost got into the open field a few times. His role as the lead back got him two short scores and he was showing a lot of fight at the end of his runs.

RB Raheem Mostert, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 58 - 0
Mostert came in on the second drive after a calf cramp was holding him back and ran with great intensity, usually getting multiple yards after first contact. He ripped off a couple of first downs as soon as he got the ball and usually posted good gains on his runs. He also recovered a fumbled punt on special teams, but left in the fourth quarter with a calf cramp and needed an IV. He should be closer to full strength for the NFC Championship game.

RB Matt Breida, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 17 - 0
Breida was only in during garbage time in the fourth quarter and he had a fumble that will give the team pause about using him again in the playoffs.

WR Deebo Samuel, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 42 - 0 (6 targets)
Samuel displayed his typical run after catch toughness and ground out extra yards on his short receptions, including pushing the ball down to the one to set up a Tevin Coleman score and pushing through multiple tacklers to convert a third and long. He had one fumble on an end around that was reversed by replay.

WR Kendrick Bourne, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 40 - 1 (5 targets)
Bourne had a big game, but not without some flaws. He came through with a short score off of a play action pass to cap the 49ers first drive and also made a sprawling catch on a 3rd and long desperation quacker from Jimmy Garoppolo to extend the second drive. He also had two bad drops, but redeemed himself in the second half with a leaping catch on a third and long.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 33 - 0 (2 targets)
Sanders had a couple of catches on the opening drive, including a big play to get into scoring range and a reception to get into the red zone, but wasn't heard from otherwise in the comfortable win.

TE George Kittle, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (5 targets)
Kittle was a force as a run blocker, but quiet as a receiver in this one. He had a drop on the first drive, but then got the ball on a reception inside the five, setting up Kendrick Bourne's score. His biggest contribution in the passing game was breaking up a ball that should have been picked. He had two goal to go targets in the second half on a screen pass and a shovel pass, but neither was successful.