There are 14 seconds left in the first-half of the NFC Championship. While it’s foolish to write a post-game article at half-time, the 49ers have dominated the Packers so thoroughly in this first-half that it’s hard to think that the Packers have any shot at overcoming the 27-point deficit they’ve found themselves in. It’s also foolish to write a post at half-time because articles take awhile and now the game is almost over and I’m still adding/editing this piece.
So, instead of re-writing my intro sentence, I’ve decided to just opt for “Full Disclosure” (which is a weird way to spell “Lazy”) and keep things as is. It’s all part of me being okay with how things are, especially after a Vikings season that tested every emotion possible and left us feeling like we’ve got to find a more rewarding hobby.
Either way, armed with the knowledge that the Niners will be facing the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, what can we learn, if anything, about what this means for the Vikings?
The 49ers are REALLY Good
The Packers finished the 2019 regular season as the 23rd defense in terms of rush yards allowed per game, so it wasn’t necessarily a huge surprise that the 49ers were able to move the ball on them the way that they did. However, what was a surprise was just how they moved the ball, with Niners back Raheem Mostert running the ball 14 times in the first half for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
With a run game like that it doesn’t really matter what your quarterback does, literally, as Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is, as of the writing of this article, 4-of-6 for 48 yards. You read that right. In a game where the 49ers have 34 points (so far), their quarterback has under 50 yards and zero touchdown passes (he also went a literal hour-and-a-half without throwing a single pass later in the game). That’s with four minutes left in the third quarter and the best tight end in the NFL. When you have nearly 200 yards (196 to be exact) on 19 touches and four touchdowns on the ground, you’re going to be impossible to stop.
As Vikings fans, this should make us all really want Gary Kubiak (and company) to stick around next season, as the Niners employ a very similar zone run scheme to that of the Vikings. Now if the Vikings could only get their pass protection up to even the mid-teens (they finished the season as the 27th ranked unit in pass protection, per PFF), perhaps they could make a Super Bowl ru… Who am I kidding? Perhaps they wouldn’t lose so emphatically.
Beyond that, the 49ers defense is every bit as good as we learned they were first hand last Saturday. After limiting the Packers to the following in their first five drives:
– 5 plays, 25 yards, Punt
– 5 plays, 4 yards, Punt
– 6 plays, 50 yards, Fumble
– 3 plays, 14 yards, Interception
– 3 plays, 1 yard, Punt
After that, Rodgers started taking what the Niners gave to him while also taking advantage of some blown coverages and mismatches in the second half. But, it’s hard to deny just how good the Niners defense is now that they’ve mostly got all hands on deck. Before last weekend, it was hard to really say how good this Niners team was because they had injuries and if not for a late-game stop against the Seahawks Week 17, they could’ve been the fifth seed in the NFC.
But now that players like Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander are back, it’s starting to feel like the Niners are beginning something special here and with the Vikings seemingly on the decline, it’s hard not to feel jealous.
That having been said though…
Maybe we were too hard on the Vikings?
I started purplePTSD.com in 2015 after essentially rubbing everyone the wrong way on Reddit by not agreeing that Teddy Bridgewater was an elite quarterback. I thought he had the potential to be, just that we needed to pump the brakes on that conversation. But, I understand now where that need came from. A lot of Vikings fans have been without a real franchise QB for their entire lives, and some of those people, like me, are pushing 40.
That need extends to other aspects of the Vikings organization, namely in the Super Bowl championship department.
So, when seasons end yet again without the Vikings hoisting that beautiful, stubborn bitch of a trophy (especially when expectations are as high as they have been these past couple seasons), people tend to react emotionally. With social media being omnipresent in everything that we do, people tend to latch onto their reasoning as to why the team, yet again, didn’t capitalize.
I brought up the fact that I started PTSD in 2015 because I haven’t seen the fan-base as upset or divided as a writer, nor as someone who has talked about the Vikings online since the AOL dial-up days, as they were (and are) after the loss to the Niners last weekend.
So, now that we’ve seen the Niners dominate a team that we’re all painfully familiar with in the Packers, perhaps things aren’t as terrible in Minnesota as we thought they were?
I mean sure, the fact remains that the Niners are just opening their window of opportunity and are as long as injuries don’t implode their season (again) should be hard to beat for the next couple years, but we saw how good the Packers defense looked against the Dalvin Cook-less Vikings during Monday Night Football, and for the Niners to dominate them on the ground the way they did… Perhaps the Niners are just really, really good all-around, is my point.
That doesn’t help with the Vikings’ apparent cap issues or the tough decisions they’re going to have to make. Nor does it help with the massive inconsistencies we saw from the offense. But, it shows at least that the Vikings weren’t just dominated by a good or even great team. They ran into an elite team, something that the Packers learned Sunday night as well.