Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
The 49ers are set to host the Vikings this Saturday in the divisional round of the playoffs. If you predicted this before the season started, I hope you are either playing the lottery or heading to Vegas. This is also a year of firsts for the 49ers. This is the first time the 49ers are hosting a playoff game at Levi’s Stadium. This is also Jimmy Garoppolo’s first playoff start of his short career.
I think most fans were expecting Jimmy and company to play the Seahawks again this weekend and were hoping for a matchup with the Eagles. The Eagles were unable to get the job done against the Seahawks but one team who did get the job done was the Vikings. Because of their win against the Saints, the Seahawks are headed to Lambeau (go Packers),and the Vikings are on their way to Santa Clara.
Now that Garoppolo is about to lose his postseason virginity,what should we expect as they face the Vikings’ defense?
With any offense or defense, it starts in the trenches, and as well as Ben Garland has played filling in for Weston Richburg, he’s not Weston Richburg. Against the Saints, the Vikings were able to get pressure up the middle on Drew Brees that not only resulted in a couple sacks, but a fumble as well. If Jimmy Garoppolo is going to lead this team to victory the offensive line needs to keep him upright.
Even though the 49ers have won a game or two this season by virtually ignoring the run when it was working, they will need to establish the run against the seventh-ranked defense (according to Football Outsiders). This will not only help keep the offense balanced but create those beautiful play-action passes downfield.
I know this should go without saying but I am going to say it anyways. They need to get the Peoples’ Tight End involved in the passing game. The 49ers lost three games in 2019. In one of those games, against the Seahawks, George Kittle was injured. In the game they lost against the Ravens, Kittle had only two receptions for 17 yards. If the offense is going to move the ball, you must have your best player available.
Finally, Garoppolo needs to make good decisions. It was highly publicized when he threw five interceptions during a training-camp practice. Throwing interceptions has always been one of the biggest criticisms for Jimmy G. And despite throwing 13 of them this season, none of them have really cost the 49ers and he’s always been able to bounce back. But if he could keep the ball to only 49er players this weekend, that would be great.
The 49ers have a great opportunity to get to Miami next month, but it won’t happen if they lose to the Vikings on Saturday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter here!
Stay tuned to 49ersHub for more great 49ers coverage and analysis!