Vikings’ season, Kirk Cousins era off to solid start after 24-16 win over 49ers
Even if it takes the Vikings new-look offense a week or two to get up to full speed, they still have the NFLs top-ranked defense. On Sunday, it made the difference in the Vikings fourth Week 1 win in five years.
In a game that gave the Vikings plenty of their own missed opportunities to lament, their defense pounced on nearly all of the 49ers mistakes, forcing four turnovers in a 24-16 win.
Kirk Cousins completed 20 of his 36 passes for 244 yards, throwing a pair of pretty touchdown passes to secure his first opening-day win as a NFL starting quarterback.
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo finished 15 of 33 for 261 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions that killed the 49ers attempts at a comeback.
The Vikings had three drives end in 49ers territory without points: two where Mike Zimmer opted to punt instead of trying rookie kicker Daniel Carlson from more than 55 yards out, and one where they ran out of time at the end of the first half, as the clock ticked down on a pair of throws over the middle before the Vikings used their final timeout. Their one turnover a fumble at the end of a 12-yard Dalvin Cook run came at their own 48.
The 49ers countered with an Alfred Morris fumble at the goal line, and a George Kittle drop after hed found himself beyond the Vikings defense in the third quarter. After the tight ends drop, the Vikings blitzed Garoppolo on 3rd-and-8, forcing a hasty throw that the quarterback intended for Kendrick Bourne. He overshot his target, and Mike Hughes playing left cornerback after Trae Waynes knee injury, intercepted the pass and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown that put the Vikings up 17-3.
The Vikings lead grew to 24-6 after Cousins second sublime red zone strike of the day an 11-yard throw to Kyle Rudolph just beyond the 49ers coverage finished a 75-yard drive.
But the 49ers put together back-to-back scoring drives of 75 and 82 yards. on the first one, Garoppolo reset himself after Vikings pressure flushed him to his left, firing a 22-yard strike to rookie Dante Pettis for a TD.
The quarterback had a chance to pull the 49ers within four points on the second drive, but he again failed to connect with Kittle, overthrowing the tight end in the back of the end zone on a third down. The 49ers had to settle for Robbie Goulds third field goal of the day to pull within 24-16.
The Vikings first drive after the score took just one minute off the clock, and their second ended in a punt, despite the fact Cousins drew the 49ers offside with a hard count on a 4th-and-1 from the Vikings own 41. But after Matt Wile backed the 49ers up to their own 11, Garoppolo threw one more interception over the middle of the field, as Harrison Smith undercut a throw while Sheldon Richardson was bearing down on the quarterback.