The San Francisco 49ers took to the road on Sunday and beat the Jaguars soundly, 30-10, but now that their record sits at 5-5, upcoming games are sure to increase in intensity as the battle for the playoffs picks up steam.
Can they keep it up and make a push for the postseason? At the moment, San Francisco appears up to the task.
The team enjoyed its second-straight romp of a win in beating Jacksonville, and perhaps most impressive in each win was the run defense, first against the Rams, when San Francisco allowed just 52 rushing yards. Against the Jaguars, the 49ers allowed 54 yards on the ground.
The defense was impressive overall (the pass rush has also been formidible, led by defensive end Nick Bosa), while quaterback Jimmy Garoppolo ran a steady ship on offense, throwing two touchdowns and dominating time of possession, as is the 49ers’ way under coach Kyle Shanahan.
Their next opponent has tred a similar path as San Francisco. The Vikings started slowly but have come on of late, evening their record at 5-5 as they look to earn a spot in the NFC playoff bracket. They feature Kirk Cousins at QB, a player once rumored to be in Shanahan’s sights before he acquired Garoppolo.
And a stout challenge awaits this coming Sunday against Minnesota. Quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Vikings stand No. 7 in the league in total offense (just behind the Rams), averaging 387 yards per game.
Cousins, whom Shanahan once coveted, is enjoying a terrific season — he has completed more than 68% of his pass attempts and has thrown 21 touchdown passes against two interceptions.
“I know (head coach) Mike Zimmer does a great job, I know how good the quarterback always is and they have a great running game and great receivers,” Shanahan said. “So it doesn’t surprise me they’re playing really good ball. It will be a hell of a challenge.”Ron Kroichick/San Francisco Chronicle
The Vikings run a similar offense to the 49ers, one that depends on a zone run scheme to set up play-action and motion pass plays. For San Francisco to beat Minnesota, their run defense has to play as well as it has the last two weeks. With each team having such similarities, I think it will come down to individual effort more than scheme, whch should be exciting and motivating for the 49ers defense.
Stuff that run, and leave with a win. That should be the theme this week at practice. Give Garoppolo and the offense plenty of time to get their own run game going and notch another dub, this one against a near mirror image of a team that is hungry for the playoffs, too. If the 49ers are hungrier, they should exit Levi’s Stadium with another big victory.