I know we say this every week, but this is a big one.
The Vikings are in the Bay Area to take on the 49ers in a battle of 5-5 teams hoping to gain a significant advantage in the NFC wild card race. The winner not only pulls ahead of the loser in the standings and holds the No. 6 seed in the conference, but also gains a critical head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Vikings lose, they'd swap places with San Francisco in the No. 7 spot. If the 49ers lose, they'd fall behind the Saints and out of the current playoff field. Obviously, there's still plenty of season left to play, though.
The Vikings also need this win to keep their slim hopes of catching the Packers in the NFC North alive. If they win this game and the Packers lose to the Rams, they'll have a chance to catch Green Bay down the stretch.
This should be a good game. These teams are better than their 5-5 records indicate, as they entered the week ranked No. 7 (49ers) and No. 11 (Vikings) in the league in Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings. There are stars on both sides of the ball for both teams, and I'm expecting another dramatic game that comes down to the final play.
The Vikings are missing their entire starting defensive line, which is a challenge. They'll start D.J. Wonnum and Sheldon Richardson at DE, with Armon Watts and James Lynch at DT. That could be an issue against the 49ers' Elijah Mitchell-led running game.
Follow along below for live updates and follow me on Twitter for additional commentary and highlights throughout the afternoon.
Final Score: 49ers 34, Vikings 26.
Read the recap here.
9:04 — The Vikings just drove all the way down the field only to come up empty near the goal line. Kirk Cousins threw it over Justin Jefferson's head on fourth and goal. 49ers get the ball back.
49ers 34, Vikings 26
0:09 — The Vikings' defense holds up, allowing just a short field goal. This is still a one-score game as the fourth quarter approaches.
1:30 — Oh no. Dalvin Cook gets tackled at a weird angle on the first play of the Vikings' drive, fumbles, and the 49ers recover in great field position. More concerning is that Cook is down and looks to be hurt.
49ers 31, Vikings 26
4:46 — Kene Nwangwu to the house for the second time this month. He takes the kick 99 yards for his second touchdown return of the season and the Vikings are right back in it. Tough missed throw from Kirk Cousins on the two-point try, though.
49ers 31, Vikings 20
4:58 — At least it wasn't a touchdown? The 49ers get their fourth consecutive scoring drive, but the Vikings held them to three points on this one. Robbie Gould's 46-yard field goal bounced off the upright and through.
49ers 28, Vikings 20
8:28 — That was a massive, massive response from the Vikings' offense. Dalvin Cook got it started with a 30-yard gain on the first play. Then a trick play — a throw across the field from Justin Jefferson to Cook — gained 24. Alexander Mattison punched it in for the score, but Greg Joseph missed the extra point.
49ers 28, Vikings 14
11:09 — This is getting ugly for the Vikings. Kirk Cousins throws a pick right to a 49ers linebacker on the first play of their drive, and the 49ers punch it into the end zone on the very next play. That's three touchdowns in 4:09 of game time.
49ers 21, Vikings 14
11:31 — What a swing by the 49ers over the past 12 minutes of game action. They just marched downfield, gaining 83 yards on five plays, and scored an easy touchdown on Deebo Samuel's rushing TD of the day. Vikings really need a response here.
Vikings 14, 49ers 14
0:18 — Incredible drive by the 49ers. 15 plays, 85 yards, and a Jauan Jennings touchdown just before halftime to tie the game at 14. They get the ball to start the second half, too. The Vikings' defense is simply incapable of getting stops late in the first half of games. It's bizarre.
8:38 — Not much happening for either offense the last couple drives. The Vikings just had a possession ruined by a Nick Bosa sack.
Vikings 14, 49ers 7
12:42 — Adam Thielen. Again. His second touchdown of the game (and 10th of the season) puts the Vikings back up by a touchdown. Justin Jefferson had two catches for 44 yards on that drive and commanded a lot of attention on the Thielen TD.
0:00 — The Vikings went three and out again, but stopped the 49ers with a big sack on third down. They've got the ball as the quarter ends.
Vikings 7, 49ers 7
5:31 — That was a quick answer by the 49ers. They got a big gain to Brandon Aiyuk on third and long, then Deebo Samuel ran for a 20-yard touchdown. There was some pushing and shoving after the play, showing the intensity of this game.
Vikings 7, 49ers 0
8:29 — The slow start turns into a great start for the Vikings, as they capitalize on the interception and get in the end zone. A flea flicker to Adam Thielen picked up 29 yards, Mike Zimmer went for it on fourth and goal from the two, and Cousins hit Thielen for his ninth touchdown of the season.
12:09 — Big early takeaway for the Vikings' defense, as Harrison Smith steps in front of a receiver for his first interception of the season and the 29th of his career. The Vikings' offense went three and out to start the game but now gets the ball back quickly.