25 Nov Vikings Preview
This Sunday the San Francisco 49ers square off vs the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium, in a game full of playoff implications. Both teams are eerily similar — eh QBs, good run games, solid defenses with weak CBs & elite WRs.
The difference could come down to the 49ers’ offensive line, vs the Vikings’ banged up defensive line. If San Francisco can continue to run the ball well, then they can keep the ball out of Kirk Cousins’, Dalvin Cooks’, Adam Thielen’s & Justin Jefferson’s hands, which could allow us to extend their win streak to a season-best 3 games. This game is crucial to the Niners’ playoff hopes. Both teams are 5-5 & so are the New Orleans Saints, with the Philadelphia Eagles & Carolina Panthers at 5-6. Whoever wins, will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, but the Vikings have a better conference record (4-2 vs 4-4), so a loss would hurt Minnesota a little bit less.
Here’s the state of the Niners, going into what very well could be their most important game of the 2021 season:
Nick Bosa is on a tear, averaging 1 sack + 1.5 tackles for a loss per game & is easily a top-3 DE in 2021. Arden Key has 3 sacks, in the last 3 games. The 49ers still need Dee Ford back desperately, and they may just get their wish, as he reportedly will be activated from IR on Thanksgiving in hopes to have him available for Sunday. A healthy Dee Ford changes the entire feel of this defense, as Kirk Cousins could agree with.
Jimmie Ward is one the best safeties in the entire league. Jaquiski Tartt & rookie Talanoa Hufanga give the 49ers crazy depth & the versatility of 3-safety looks. Fred Warner has been struggling (especially considering his standards), but is still one of the best ILBs. Getting Dre Greenlaw back should help, and although Azeez Al-Shaair has filled in really well, Greenlaw is better in coverage.
Speaking of coverage, Josh Norman has been a little bit suspect. Lots of DPIs, but some weren’t deserved to be fair. His league leading 6 forced-fumbles & solid tackling have helped to make things right. Emmanuel Moseley has 10 PBUs, many that could’ve been INTs. K’Waun Williams continues to be one of the best Nickel CBs in the league. The secondary has improved vastly over the last two weeks compared to the previous four.
The 49ers’ DTs not-named DJ Jones haven’t been great. Arik Armstead has been very solid, but not quite living up to his $17M per season contract. Getting Maurice Hurst back (eventually) should really help the run defense.
Hopefully, rookie running back Elijah Mitchell will be able to play, as he has really taken a lot of the sting out of losing Raheem Mostert for the year. Jeff Wilson Jr. is still working himself back into game shape. Trey Sermon has been OK, but hasn’t lived up to his third-round draft position yet. JaMycal Hasty has has been good as a receiver, but mediocre as a runner. Kyle Juszczyk is, by far, the best FB in football. Deebo Samuel has been great as a RB, but that keeps him from getting as many catches & increases the chances of him getting injured. The 49ers offense runs through Deebo Samuel and they cannot afford to lose him for an extended period of time.
Deebo Samuel is #1 in YAC (both after catch & after contact) & #2 in total receiving yards. He should be considered a top-5 WR, so far this season. George Kittle has a TD in each of the last 3 games after going over an entire calendar year without one & is welcome addition back into the lineup, as a top-2 TE, who isn’t 2nd best. Brandon Aiyuk is officially out of his slump & back to his 2020 form, stay tuned for what he’s got in store for the second half of the season. Jauan Jennings has been amazing as a run-blocker in the last 2 games. #BullyBall is alive & well
Trent Williams is the best LT in football without a doubt, as he’s elite in both pass-blocking & run-blocking — a true unicorn. Laken Tomlinson (LG) has been playing very well, but he twisted his ankle. If he misses the game, it would be a huge blow & his first missed game as a 49er. Alex Mack (C) has been a huge addition after a shakey start. He is the biggest reason that the 49ers’ pass-blocking is the best it’s been since Kyle Shanahan arrived. Daniel Brunskill (RG) has had two good games in row. Jaylon Moore (RT) struggled at the Jaguars. Hopefully, he improves, as Tom Compton is simply not the answer at RT.
That brings us to Jimmy Garoppolo. He has been very efficient for the last four games. Da Bears were missing their two best defenders. The Cardinals were missing JJ Watt & Rashard Lawrence. The Rams have weak LBs & a weak run defense. The Jaguars defense self-destructed, with penalties, an ejection & multiple key injuries. I just don’t have faith in Jimmy Garoppolo to sustain this level of play vs better defenses & LBs. We should’ve seen Trey Lance get some snaps vs the Rams & more vs the Jaguars. The 49ers need him ready ASAP, in case Jimmy gets injured, or flames out.
Special teams has made huge improvements since 2020. Believe it or not, the 49ers are the only team ranked in the top 11 for offense, defense & special teams!
It should be close game, but I believe that the Niners will beat the Vikings. Their playoff hopes depend on it.
Let me know what you think!
Check out Ted’s assesment of the #49ers vs the #Vikings! #49ersHive #MNvsSF #FTTBTweet