The 49ers offense failed to score 30 points for the first time but look to begin a new streak against a Vikings defense that’s allowed the 11th-most points this season. Without Deebo Samuel and Trent Williams, and Christian McCaffrey dealing with an oblique injury, Brock Purdy will try to prevent consecutive 49ers losses for the first time since last October.
The defense only allowed 19 points last week but will face a different challenge against the pass-happy Vikings. Kirk Cousins opens this week’s numbers to know.
Passer rating. Cousins has a 96.7 passer rating while under pressure this season, second to only Baker Mayfield.
And he gets pressured on about a third of his dropbacks, 31 percent, according to Pro Football Focus, the fourth-lowest percentage of pressured dropbacks in the league. While Cousins has only completed 46 percent of his passes under pressure - 22nd-best of 29 qualified quarterbacks - he’s thrown for seven touchdowns (best) and only one interception (tied for second-fewest) for 391 yards.
With how robotic Cousins is, it makes sense, a trait seemingly infatuates Kyle Shanahan. The Vikings quarterback is quick in making his reads, and his throws are more often than both on-time and accurate. And while his accuracy takes a dip when he’s under pressure - he can still make some sort of play, with half of his 14 touchdowns coming under pressure.
Creating pressure shouldn’t be an issue for the 49ers defensive line. It has combined for 136 quarterback pressures, with Nick Bosa (29) and Javon Hargrave (21) in the top 30 of all defenders.
The 49ers’ pass rush must finish the pressure and collect some sacks on Monday night. Despite the high number of pressures, the 49ers are ranked near the middle of the league with only 15 total sacks.
Pressures can’t hurt, but with Cousins’ pressure numbers, the 49ers must be able to sack the quarterback, who has only been sacked 15 times on 252 dropbacks this season.
Right guard is the most vulnerable spot on the Minnesota line. Ed Ingram has allowed 20 pressures - twice as many as anybody else on the offense - so Hargrave and Arik Armstead could be in a spot to impact the game.
Percent. 32 percent of the Vikings’ rush attempts last week against Chicago went for zero or negative yards, according to TruMedia per Alec Lewis of The Athletic.
The Viking offense will already have its share of issues without superstar receiver Justin Jefferson out Monday night, but its lack of run game could be why the offense struggles to move the ball against the 49ers.
Minnesota’s backfield features the duo of Alexander Mattison and Cam Akers. It moved on from an aging but still productive in 2022 Dalvin Cook in favor of the cheaper Mattison with little success
Mattison averages 3.9 yards per attempt - 25th of 35 running backs with at least 50 carries - with just 320 yards on 82 attempts. He has more games with 40 or fewer yards (three) than 90 or more yards (two) with only four games with double-digit attempts.
Mattison had 17 and 20 carries in his two 90-yard games but had 34 yards on 11 attempts in Week 1 and 44 yards on 18 rushes just last week.
Minnesota had a blip of success on the ground from Week’s 3 to 5, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt with at least 130 rushing yards in two of the three games. Those three games were against the Chargers (14th-fewest rushing yards allowed), Carolina (30th), and Kansas City (12th).
In the other three games - Tampa Bay (7th), Philadelphia (2nd), and Chicago last week (8th) - the Minnesota offense averaged 2.4 yards per attempt, 115 yards on 48 attempts.
The 49ers run defense has allowed the fifth-fewest yards in the league.
Minnesota should be forced to be one-dimensional with its lackluster rushing attack without its best receiver. As long as Steve Wilks and the 49ers can keep Mattison and Akers contained, the defense should be able to pin its ears back against the pass.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Vikings’ defense sends a blitz 57.9 percent of plays, the most in the league.
With Gregg Williams as the Defensive Coordinator for the DC Defenders of the XFL, Vikings DC Brian Flores deserves the title “Dr. Heat.”
In his final two seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2020-2021, Miami finished top-two in blitz percentage. After a year as a special assistant in Pittsburgh, Flores was hired as the DC in Minnesota and has returned with a blitzing vengeance.
The New England Patriots have sent a blitz on 43.4 percent of dropbacks, second to Minnesota, a difference of 14.5 percent. That’s roughly the difference between the second-place Patriots and the Cleveland Browns, who are 12th in the league, blitzing 29.4 percent of the time.
Flores takes advantage of having Danielle Hunter - who leads the league in sacks with eight - but usually adds an extra rusher to add stress on the offensive line, with Hunter taking advantage more often than not. DJ Wonnum, Pat Jones, and Marcus Davenport have combined for 44 pressures in complement to Hunter, although Minnesota will be without Davenport on Monday night.
The 49ers offensive line already has its issues as Trent Williams is doubtful with his ankle injury suffered last week. Jaylon Moore will likely make his sixth career start on Monday night against the blitz-happy Vikings.
The offensive line, however, has held up this season, allowing only 39 pressures through its first six games, eighth-fewest in the league according to Pro Football Reference, with Brock Purdy being sacked only eight times.
The Vikings’ pass rush might differ from what Cleveland offered last week, but the blitzing will constantly create a challenge for an offensive line missing its best player.