What a game….
The 49ers‘ defense began the game with a three-and-out. The offense started the game with a turnover. Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t see Harrison Smith lurking over the middle of the field.
After a Josh Norman coverage bust that led to a gain of 29, the Vikings would convert a 4th & goal from the two-yard line to go up 7-0. The defense had a chance for a stop, but Jimmie Ward was late to pick Thielen up, and by the time he saw Thielen, it was too late.
San Francisco answered with a scoring drive in under three minutes after Brandon Aiyuk had a 37-yard gain and Elijah Mitchell went for 15 yards. The drive was capped off by Deebo Samuel rushing around the edge for 20 yards.
After both teams traded punts, the Vikings would score in under three minutes after a 30-yard gain where Norman was smoked off the line of scrimmage by Justin Jefferson, and Talanoa Hufanga lost Thielen for a 20-yard touchdown. That score made it 14-7, Vikings.
After two punts, the 49ers melted the clock for the rest of the first half as they marched 15 plays for 85 yards on a drive that took over eight minutes off the clock. The drive was extended after Garoppolo snuck the ball for two yards on 3rd & 2 to convert the first down and followed that up with a seed to Aiyuk on a 3rd & 11. Jauan Jennings eventually scored to tie the game at 14, headed into halftime.
Thanks to a 49-yard run by Deebo, the 49ers wasted no time to begin the third quarter after he broke multiple tackles. They scored to go up seven, and an Azeez Al-Shaair interception gave them the ball back after one play. One play later, Mitchell finds the end zone, and in a matter of four minutes of game time, the 49ers scored three touchdowns to take a 28-14 lead.
After a Dalvin Cook 30-yard run and a 24-yard pass to Jefferson, the Vikings found the end zone to cut the lead to 28-21. After a 30 yard gain by Aiyuk, San Francisco ended up kicking a field goal to increase the lead to 11.
That didn’t last long as the Vikings ran the kick back to make it 31-26. But, they missed the two-point conversion. Jaquiski Tartt whiffed on the kick return, and, from there, it was off to the races.
Minnesota took over after the offense punted, but Kevin Givens beat his man and forced a fumble on Dalvin Cook. Azeez Al-Shaair recovered the fumble, and the 49ers took over on a short field. Cook was carted off after the play.
Despite a short field, the 49ers lost six yards on first and goal. Jimmy threw a nice slot fade to Jauan Jennings, but Jennings couldn’t haul the pass in. I thought he might be in as Jennings shin hit first, but the call was incomplete. Gould’s 22-yard field goal made it 34-26.
There were 32 points scored in the third quarter. It was one of the more entertaining quarters of the season in any game this year. Neither defense showed any signs of stopping the opposing offense. Would that change in the fourth quarter?
The Vikings drove 12 plays for 72 yards and took over six minutes off the clock. It came down to 4th down, and Cousins lined up under his guard:
4th and goal. Kirk Cousins lines up under his guard. pic.twitter.com/pSLh2YFdAb
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dieter) November 29, 2021
After a timeout, he sailed a pass in the end zone, and the 49ers took over on downs.
During the third quarter, the 49ers lost Fred Warner and Deebo Samuel to injury. Trent Sherfield caught a contested slant on third down to move the chains and allow the offense to continue to chew the clock.
After an encroachment penalty, the offense picked up their fourth first down of the drive. They had taken six minutes off the clock and were into field goal range. It was a backbreaking drive as Minnesota couldn’t stop San Francisco when they needed to the most.
Elijah Mitchell surpassed 100 yards for the fourth time this season. That’s the most for a rookie in franchise history. Mitchell is tough as nails and has earned Shanahan’s trust.
Unfortunately, Gould’s field goal was no good, and the game remained one-possession with just under two minutes to play. It only took a couple of plays for the Vikings to enter 49er territory. After two straight incompletions, Minnesota turned it over on downs.
When they needed to, the 49ers’ offense moved the chains, and the defense got a stop. That’s three in a row for the Niners. Plus, with a Rams loss, a higher playoff seed isn’t out of the question. San Francisco showed mettle today and handled adversity. That’s the sign of a playoff team.