The Vikings topped the 49ers 24-16 on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
Minnesota never trailed. The Vikings won field position early and built a 10-0 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter. A goal-line stand kept points off the board before halftime, and the Vikings withstood a challenge by the 49ers.
Kirk Cousins shined in his first regular-season game with Minnesota, Dalvin Cook sizzled in his first regular-season action since Oct. 1, Mike Hughes impressed with a historic interception and Harrison Smith slammed the door on a comeback attempt. Other newcomers showed the potential to make the 2018 Vikings just as strong, if not better, than the 2017 edition.
Here are three stats that stood out in the Vikings win.
1. Stingy in the red zone
The 49ers made four trips inside the Vikings 20-yard line but were only able to score one touchdown on those possessions.
When advancing into the red zone, San Francisco totaled 16 plays for 52 yards and scored 13 of its 16 points.
The most critical sequence occurred late in the second quarter when the 49ers ran a total of six plays for 13 yards and got no points, thanks to an impressive goal-line stand.
After earning a new set of downs at the Minnesota 4-yard line, the 49ers had a gain of 1 by Alfred Morris. A sack of Jimmy Garoppolo by Danielle Hunter was negated by a holding call against Xavier Rhodes, and San Francisco was awarded a new set of downs at the Minnesota 1.
Morris was stuffed for no gain on his first carry and again on his second carry. Andrew Sendejo and Sheldon Richardson made initial contact, and Linval Joseph knocked the ball from Morris. Harrison Smith recovered the football, denying a great opportunity for points.
2. 9 QBHs and 9 PDs
The Vikings defense was credited with nine quarterback hits and nine passes defended by press box statisticians.
The pressure and coverage went hand-in-hand and helped Minnesota's Smith, Xavier Rhodes and Mike Hughes record interceptions. Hughes returned his 28 yards for a touchdown, becoming the first Vikings rookie to have a pick six in a Week 1 game.
Although he totaled 261 yards through the air, Minnesota's defense limited Garoppolo to 15-of-33 passing and one touchdown. He had a passer rating of 45.1 in losing as a starter for the first time (eight games).
3. 34 non-RB yards
The Vikings celebrated the return of Cook and gave the second-year pro plenty of work. He totaled 40 yards on 16 carries and gained another 55 yards on six passes. Latavius Murray added 42 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Minnesota's ground game also got a bit of a boost with an 8-yard run by Stefon Diggs and 26 yards on four rushes by Kirk Cousins. Most of Cousins' attempts were on scrambles, including a 4-yarder near the end of the game when he took a nasty hit and was stopped just shy of the yard-to-gain.
Cousins also kept the ball for a 6-yard run up the middle in the first quarter and a 13-yard scramble to convert a third-and-10 before halftime.
The Vikings brought Cousins to Minnesota because of his skills as a passer, but his ability to use his legs in certain situations will be another obstacle for opposing defenses.