The San Francisco 49ers are coming off back to back dominant wins -- this is the first time they have performed at this level in almost 2 years. They run into a Minnesota Vikings team that is also coming off two wins against tough competition and both teams seem to be finding themselves at the right time of the year. This game carries major playoff implications and should make for an electric atmosphere in Santa Clara. How is it going to pan out?
Best Case Scenario: The 49ers completely dominate the lines of scrimmage on both offense and defense and win in dominant fashion much like the past two weeks.
The San Francisco 49ers have finally figured out after 11 weeks that they are built to run the football. Strange that it took this long but head coach Kyle Shanahan finally seems to have figured out a sustainable recipe for success and has done so in time for the stretch run to the playoffs. The 49ers will overwhelm an already struggling run defense that will be down all four of their defensive line starters. Although the Vikings don’t typically allow big runs, all the conditions line up for them to be totally mauled in this game. The 49ers will top the 200 rushing yard mark and Jimmy Garoppolo will enjoy a stress-free day in which he isn’t asked to do much other than convert a couple of short third downs.
The Vikings only chance in this ballgame will be to score every time they have the ball. While this is possible with their plethora of offensive weapons, their main attributor for success this season, wide receiver Justin Jefferson will be shut down in this game. 49ers defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans knows all too well that the Vikings win when Kirk Cousins throws for more than 275 yards, and he can only accomplish this if Jefferson has a big day. The 49ers will double Jefferson all day and will completely neutralize him with Jimmie Ward being used to double him all over the field. Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen might have big games but that will still not be enough for the Vikings as they have lived and died by the explosive pass play this season and if they don’t have it, they don’t win.
Worst Case Scenario: It’s been four weeks in a row of solid play from Garoppolo. Translation: he’s over due for a stinker.
Shanahan has made it a habit of out-thinking himself, much to the detriment of the team. All conditions are ripe for the 49ers to completely dominate this game in the trenches but these have been the types of games in which Shanahan has tried to be cute and pass the ball ad nauseum. If the 49ers don’t run the ball 30-plus times they will lose this game and Shanahan will be the reason. Garoppolo is still a mistake waiting to happen and their key to victory is to limit his impact on the game, the more passes the 49ers throw, the higher the likelihood that Garoppolo will implode. A three turnover game has been lurking all season and Sunday might be the day it shows up.
The 49ers defense has been tough for two straight weeks after a complete disaster against the Arizona Cardinals. Oh, and that was against a Cardinals offense missing Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, AJ Green and Chase Edmonds. Yes, their top four weapons. That means the 49ers defense is a complimentary piece on this football team and will only succeed if their offense dominates the time of possession. A three turnover day on offense will force the 49ers defense to be on the field and that will spell disaster. They simply don’t have the horses to match up with all the Vikings weapons on the outside and Dalvin Cook always has the potential to dominate a game. Cousins could eclipse the 400 yard mark and throw for 3 or 4 touchdowns.
Chuy’s Prediction: The 49ers season has officially started and the team we’ve all been hoping for since 2019 will reintroduce itself.
The 49ers will run the ball with five different ball carriers in this game and I expect a big day on the ground. Expect more than 35 rushes for 200-plus yards en route to a dominant performance. Cousins will do his best to keep the Vikings within striking distance but it won’t be enough as he won’t get enough time on the field. Nick Bosa will have a monster game and be disruptive all day, while Jimmie Ward will shut down Justin Jefferson. If the Vikings lose the turnover battle it could get ugly.
Final Score: 49ers 34 - Vikings 24.
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