Kevin Seifert and Nick Wagoner6 minutes of reading
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes to rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison, while Minnesota intercepted 49ers quarterback Brock Birdie twice in the fourth quarter to improve its record to 3-4. The 49ers (5-2) have lost two in a row after starting the season 5-0, despite two more touchdowns from running back Christian McCaffrey.
It will be difficult for the Vikings to contemplate the midseason selloff that many fans and members of the media are hoping for. Their win over the heavily favored 49ers on Monday night brought them within a game of .500, and with a less formidable schedule ahead, the Vikings will look to qualify for the playoffs and have more first-round picks than players traded. 2024 draft.
It wasn’t over until safety Camryn Bynum stopped two late 49ers drives with interceptions. But as the Vikings look ahead to games against the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints — followed by the possible return of star wideout Justin Jefferson — they would be forgiven for believing their bad luck is over.
All seven of the Vikings’ games this season have been decided by one score. Last season, they went an impressive 11-0 in such contests. Who knows what will happen next.
Buy/Sell on Breakout Performance: Those who watched Vikings training camp knew Addison was the real deal. As relatives recently put it, “He was a great player.” Jefferson had an injury throughout the rest of the NFL world. Addison caught seven passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns Monday night, including a 60-yarder he stole from 49ers cornerback Charvaris Ward just before halftime. Addison’s six receiving touchdowns tied for second in the NFL, and his 14-yard catch at the 2:19 mark of third down — after returning from a round of interceptions — helped seal the game.
Problematic trend: The Vikings committed a turnover on their first possession for the fourth time this season — more than any team in a full season, let alone seven games since 2020 — when Ward wrestled a pass for Addison. The turnover did no harm from a scoring perspective, as the 49ers fumbled them on the ensuing possession. Suffice it to say, it’s an incredibly dangerous way to live.
QB Breakdown: Cousins entered the game having won just two of his 12 career starts on “Monday Night Football,” tied for the most losses among quarterbacks with at least 10 starts in NFL history. But he performed admirably against the NFL’s best defense on a night when the Vikings didn’t trust their running game. Cousins completed 35 of 45 passes for 378 yards and threw in the final minutes as the Vikings tried to burn time on the clock.
Despite leading the Vikings all the way, Cousins threw 45 passes against 19 carries by running backs. — Kevin Seifert
Next game: at Packers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
San Francisco 49ers
For the first five weeks of the season, the 49ers were nearly unbeatable. But two weeks is an eternity in the NFL, and the promise of a dominant run quickly fades into the harsh reality of how hard it is to consistently win in this league.
After falling to the Vikings, the Niners have lost two in a row for the first time since exactly one year ago. With that losing streak comes a test of whether the 49ers are truly made of championship talent.
Over the next seven weeks, the Niners will again play the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle. Their championship hopes depend on how they fight back after another disappointing road loss.
QB Breakdown: After Birdy’s poor performance in last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns, many wondered how he would bounce back this week. The answer? Purdy was mostly unscathed for three quarters, but made two critical errors. With the Niners pushing for a potential go-ahead touchdown, Purdy rushed a throw to Javon Jennings that Bynum easily intercepted at 5:30. He threw another one to Bynum as the 49ers tried to drive back to the go-ahead score with 25 seconds left at the Minnesota 22.
In an evening where the Niners had their share of problems, Purdy wasn’t their greatest, but his interceptions came at the worst possible time. He finished 21-of-30 for 272 yards and two picks for a passer rating of 81.5 with one touchdown pass.
Main play: With 17 seconds left in the first half, Niners defensive coordinator Steve Wilks dialed a Cover 0 blitz and Minnesota faced third-and-6 at its own 40. The Vikings had no timeouts, and any tackle on the line would have ended the half. .
But the blitz never came home, and Ward was left in one-on-one coverage with Addison at the 49ers’ 37. When Ward nearly intercepted Cousins’ pass, Addison wrestled it away and ran for a 60-yard, game-winning touchdown. Converts a touchdown. It was an eyebrow-raising defensive call, not only because of the result, but because it was the first seven-man pass rush in the last 30 seconds of a half in opposing territory in the NFL since Week 11 of 2020, according to NextGen Stats. . And the Niners paid dearly for it.
Problematic trend: Niners kicker Jake Moody has been fine through the first five weeks, but suffered his first two losses last week against Cleveland, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter. Those struggles continued into Monday night, when Moody missed a 40-yard field goal in the first half. To his credit, he later scored on a 55-yard attempt. But the mistakes are piling up at the 40-yard range.
The 49ers spent Moody’s third-round pick hoping he would handle the kicking duties now and in the future. But this team is in win-now mode, and it’s fair to wonder how patiently they can stay with the lid before looking elsewhere. — Nick Wagoner
Next game: vs. Bengals (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)