Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

San Francisco 49ers shut down Minnesota Vikings, advance to NFC title game

QB Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t have to do much thanks to a strong running game led by Tevin Coleman’s 105 yards and two TDS combined with a suffocating defense.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman gets ready to intercept a pass in front of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen during the second half of their NFC division round playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. [TONY AVELAR  |  AP]
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman gets ready to intercept a pass in front of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen during the second half of their NFC division round playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. [TONY AVELAR | AP]
Published Jan. 12
Updated Jan. 12

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Richard Sherman anticipated the route for an interception, then the veteran cornerback watched his 49ers run eight straight times for the touchdown that put them in control of their first playoff game in six years.

The dominant defense and powerful running game that carried San Francisco to an 8-0 start this season delivered a 27-10 victory over Minnesota in the NFC division round Saturday.

“People keep disrespecting us. At the end of the day, all you can do is go out and execute,” Sherman, 31, said. “It felt good. That’s what we look like when we’re totally healthy.”

The return of injured defensive starters Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt had the 49ers (14-3) playing as they did in the first half of the season as they set a franchise playoff record by allowing only 147 yards.

Jimmy Garoppolo threw a touchdown pass on his opening drive as a playoff starter, then mostly watched his defense and running game take over from there. The top-seeded 49ers turned a pair of second-half turnovers by Minnesota (11-7) into 10 points.

“They’re pretty good right?” tight end George Kittle said of his defense. “It’s such a blast just to watch them, how they work together.

“If our defense keeps playing like that, all we have to do is not turn the ball over to win games”

Sherman set up Tevin Coleman’s second short touchdown run of the game when he beat Adam Thielen to the spot to intercept Kirk Cousins for his third career playoff interception.

Coleman had five of the eight carries on the 44-yard drive as part of a 105-yard rushing performance.

“Those guys did very well,” Coleman said of his offensive line. “They moved the guys back so I had clear holes to run through. So, yeah, they did a real good job.”

Marcus Sherels’ fumbled punt later in the third quarter led to a field goal that made it 27-10 early in the fourth.

San Francisco didn’t allow Minnesota to gain a first down for more than 27 minutes of game action starting late in the second quarter.

The 49ers will host the NFC Championship Game next week against the winner of Sunday’s game between Seattle and Green Bay.

Garoppolo threw an interception deep in his own territory late in the first half, then spent most of the second half handing the ball off to Coleman and Raheem Mostert.

There was little reason for coach Kyle Shanahan to take chances the way his defense completely bottled up standout running back Dalvin Cook. That took away Minnesota’s play-action game and forced Cousins into becoming a drop-back passer.

“We didn’t do enough offensively to give ourselves a chance to win the game,” Cousins said. “It hurts right now. It’s so raw right now, just falling short.”

Cousins finished 21-for-29 for 172 yards, his only big play coming on a 41-yard TD pass to Stefon Diggs in the first quarter.

Cook, a former Florida State star, was held to 18 yards on nine carries as the 49ers defense was back to its dominant early season form as the bye week helped the defense get healthy again.

“That was the No. 1 emphasis all week,” defensive lineman Nick Bosa said of the Minnesota running game. “We knew we were facing probably the best back we’ve faced all year with Dalvin, and we knew we had to earn the right to pass rush. So, that’s what we did. We took the run as serious as we could, shut it down and then we ate.”

San Francisco had six sacks and held Minnesota to 81 yards until late in the fourth.

TAKE IT AWAY

Linebacker Eric Kendricks intercepted a pass from Garoppolo late in the first half to give the Vikings the ball at the San Francisco 29. Minnesota couldn’t capitalize, with defensive end Ford getting a third-down sack in his return to the lineup from a hamstring injury. Dan Bailey’s 39-yard field goal cut the Niners lead to 14-10 at the half. The interception was the 19th turnover this season by Garoppolo, who had the most giveaways in the regular season of any player who made the playoffs.

BLOCKING BACK

Garoppolo showed he has skills beyond his throwing. He threw a lead block on 255-pound linebacker Anthony Barr on a reverse by Deebo Samuel in the second quarter.

“Sometimes you have to remember you’re not just a quarterback, you’re a football player too,” Garoppolo said.

Samuel fumbled the ball on the play but replay ruled his knee was down, negating the turnover. That proved especially important when Coleman capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run.

BURNED AGAIN

The Vikings scored on their second drive of the game when Diggs outmaneuvered Ahkello Witherspoon for a 41-yard TD catch. It was the fifth TD pass allowed by Witherspoon in the past three games. He was replaced at cornerback the following drive by Emmanuel Moseley.

INJURIES

Vikings: RT Brian O’Neill left with a head injury after a blindside block from Nick Bosa in the third quarter following Cousins’ interception.

49ers: Mostert (calf) and Coleman (elbow) both got hurt in the second half.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Colin Kaepernick, middle, kneels for the national anthem. He hasn't taken a snap in the NFL for three full seasons now.
    "Inspire Change'' campaign is a sanitized version of what Colin Kaepernick tried to get across by kneeling for the national anthem.
  2. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) runs on the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. [ADAM HUNGER  |  AP]
    Manning: “From the very first moment I did it my way.”
  3. NFC cornerback Shaquill Griffin of the Seattle Seahawks gives a thumbs up during Pro Bowl NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano) [STEVE LUCIANO  |  AP]
    Third-year Seahawks cornerback is being rewarded for his standout season, and is excited to share it with his family. “We all made the Pro Bowl.”
  4. In this Oct. 23, 2016, file photo, a New Orleans Saints helmet rests on the playing field before an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo. The Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area's Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File) [JEFF ROBERSON  |  AP]
    Saints attorneys disputed any suggestion that the team helped the church cover up crimes, calling such claims “outrageous.”
  5. NFC quarterback Drew Brees, of the New Orleans Saints, throws a pass during a practice for the NFL Pro Bowl football game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    The Bucs could be impacted as they decide on Jameis Winston, with Brees’ New Orleans backup Teddy Bridgewater as a possible option.
  6. Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (94) celebrates a sack of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. [REED HOFFMANN  |  AP]
    John Romano | The Bucs played well enough on both sides of the ball to be one of the top 10 teams in the NFL. One stat kept them from possibly being the Chiefs or 49ers.
  7. Former Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm could be an interesting option for the Bucs to consider, if they want to move on from Jameis Winston. [BILL FEIG  |  AP]
    As the Bucs possibly look into moving on from Jameis Winston, here’s what fans should know about this draft’s quarterback class.
  8. In this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, file photo, then-Patriots receiver Antonio Brown roams the sideline during the first half against the Dolphins in Miami Gardens. Law enforcement authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Brown, who along with his trainer has been accused of attacking a man near Brown's South Florida home in Hollywood. [LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP]
    The troubled NFL wide receiver is accused, along with his trainer, of attacking a man in South Florida.
  9. NFC linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hands Sean Silverthorn, of Largo, Fla., two tickets to the Super Bowl after a practice for the NFL Pro Bowl football game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    At this time last year, he was a player without a team. Now, having earned his place among the game’s greats, the Buccaneers outside linebacker is making dreams come true for him, his family and a...
  10. In this Feb. 7, 2012 file photo New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the team's NFL football Super Bowl parade in New York. Manning, who led the Giants to two Super Bowls in a 16-year career that saw him set almost every team passing record, has retired. The Giants said Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 that Manning would formally announce his retirement on Friday. [JULIO CORTEZ  |  AP]
    The two-time Super Bowl MVP is calling it quits after 16 seasons, all with the same team.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement