From penalties to third down conversions, the 49ers have been trending in the right direction these past two weeks
When you watch the Vikings on defense, you come away thinking, “Oh wow, the 49ers might score on every possession.”
When you Watch the Vikings on offense, you come away thinking, “Oh no, the 49ers might give up a score on every possession.”
The 49ers are 3-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the total set at 49. That’s the third-highest total of Week 12. So that’s Vegas telling us that there will be points.
During today’s episode of the Shanaplan, Akash and I do a quick recap of what we liked from the Jaguars game. From there, we discussed what we wanted to see the 49ers carry over from their win over Jacksonville to the Vikings.
Penalties have been killing the 49ers. All season long, it feels like this team has been shooting itself in the foot. There was only one penalty against the Jaguars. Kyle Shanahan commended Jauan Jennings for keeping his composure during his scuffle with Rayshawn Jenkins.
Jennings keeping his cool was the difference in extending the drive and scoring a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal since it was third down.
Winning the turnover battle
How many times this season have the 49ers coughed the ball up, as Jeff Wilson did during the first quarter, and not fell on the fumble? If your answer is “all of them,” you wouldn’t get many arguments.
Jennings recovered Wilson’s fumble while Fred Warner recovered the fumble Josh Norman forced. Add in Trent Sherfield’s recovery of the muffed punt, and you have the hat trick. The ball is beginning to bounce in favor of the 49ers. San Francisco has won the turnover battle during the previous two games, and that’s been a big reason why this team has won two games in a row.
Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson have been the focus so far, but there’s that Dalvin Cook guy the Niners have to account for.
Cook’s averaging 91 yards per game on the ground and has broken 13 tackles this season as a ball-carrier. Cook also averages 2.2 yards after contact, per Sports Info Solutions. The defense must also corral him as a receiver, as Cook averages 8.8 yards after the catch. We saw him break a tackle last week against the Packers where it looked as though Cook had nowhere to go, and suddenly, that turned into a big play.
During the past two weeks, the 49ers have missed four total tackles on defense. But, they’ve been great at eliminating self-inflicted mistakes. That has to continue against a dangerous Vikings offense.
Health certainly helps. Having Jaquiski Tartt back in the lineup erased any potential mistakes on the backend. If Dre Greenlaw and Dee Ford play as Shanahan expected them to, the Niners get even faster.
Third down efficiency
The 49ers converted 50% of their third-down attempts against Jacksonville. Over the past two weeks, the 49ers have converted 55% of their first downs. However, it’s unlikely to sustain that number as it would be tops in the league for the entire season.
What we do know is the offense struggled all season to move the chains on third down. They’re winning on early downs more. It helps when Jimmy Garoppolo has 3rd & 4’s to convert as opposed to 3rd & 8’s.
For as much as we’ve talked about the 49ers running the ball, it’s been third-down conversions that are the reason why this offense has stayed on the field. That’s something else we’d like to see carry over into the Vikings game.
Check out the rest of our Vikings preview below.
Other topics include:
- How the 49ers dismantled the Jaguars
- Weak points on the Vikings the 49ers can exploit
- Bold predictions for Week 12