The San Francisco 49ers were thumped in Week 1, losing their season opener to the Minnesota Vikings by a final score of 24-16. The Vikings were the better team, but the 49ers did not help themselves with an assortment of self-inflicted wounds.
The 49ers trailed 10-3 and had two separate instances where they could have tied the game. The team had a 1st and goal at the 1-yard line. Alfred Morris almost coughed up the ball on 2nd and goal, and then fumbled it away on 3rd and goal. The Vikings did not turn that turnover into a touchdown, but a fumble at the one yard line is brutal.
In the third quarter, Jimmy Garoppolo had a wide open George Kittle with nothing but daylight in front of him. Kittle dropped it, and on the very next play, Garoppolo threw a pick-six to Mike Hughes. Garoppolo was looking for Kendrick Bourne, but the second-year receiver fell down, and the pass looked too far out of Bourne’s reach even if he had not fallen. Either way, a potential 10-10 game became a 17-3 deficit.
The 49ers managed a field goal to cut the lead to 17-6, but then the Vikings marched down the field to take a 24-6 lead. The 49ers finally got a touchdown when Jimmy Garoppolo found Dante Pettis on a beautiful 22-yard touchdown pass. The 49ers trailed 24-13, and after adding a field goal, had cut the lead to a mere eight points.
And then came the final killer mistake. The 49ers had stopped the Vikings with three minutes remaining. Kirk Cousins remained on the field on 4th and 1, but it was clear the Vikings were trying to draw the 49ers offsides. And with a couple seconds left on the play clock, Cousins managed to draw Solomon Thomas offsides.
Apparently Stanford doesn’t have a snap count class.— Oscar Aparicio (@BetterRivals) September 9, 2018
The 49ers were able to force a punt after that and had the ball at their own 11 with 1:49 to go. On the second play of the drive, Garoppolo threw his third interception of the game, and that was that. The 49ers dropped to 0-1 with a 24-16 loss.
Player of the game
There were a lot of ugly plays, but big props to DeForest Buckner and Fred Warner. Buckner had 2.5 sacks as the 49ers interior pass rush looked really solid on the day. Warner led the way with 12 tackles, one pass deflection, and a huge forced fumble of Dalvin Cook. Not a bad little debut for the rookie!
It was a rough day of injuries for the 49ers. Marquise Goodwin suffered a quadricep injury in the first quarter. He worked out on an exercise bike the rest of the first half and briefly returned, only to be shut down. Dante Pettis saw a boost in snaps after Goodwin
The team also found themselves having to play rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey at right guard. Mike Person suffered a foot injury when Weston Richburg fell on him, and was replaced by Joshua Garnett. Later in the game, Garnett suffered a foot injury as well, his being of the non-contact variety, and the 49ers were left moving McGlinchey to guard and bringing in Garry Gilliam at right tackle. The 49ers might find themselves needing to sign another guard — potentially Jonathan Cooper.
In the fourth quarter, linebacker Brock Coyle went down with an injury. He was down for a bit, but eventually sat up and walked off the field. Elijah Lee replaced Coyle next to Fred Warner.
Next up: vs. Detroit Lions
The 49ers have their home opener in Week 2, hosting the Detroit Lions at Levi’s Stadium. The Lions face the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, so we’ll be keeping an eye on that one to see what we can expect of the Lions in Week 2. The big question heading into the coming week is the right guard position.