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Vikings vs. 49ers Week 7 Rehash

The Vikings prevailed 22-17 against the 49ers Monday in an impressive team performance.

Several players hit milestones, including Kirk Cousins, who passed for 378 yards, recording his 50th career game with at least 300 yards through the air. He's the fifth QB to do so in his first 12 NFL seasons and 15th with at least 50 games all-time.

T.J. Hockenson led Minnesota with 11 receptions, blowing past a record for fastest tight end to record 100 receptions with a team. Hockenson entered the game with 96 through his first 16 regular-season games. The previous record was 20 games.

Jordan Addison recorded his first 100-yard game, making his Monday Night Football debut with style and substance, with 20- and 60-yard touchdown catches. He became just the fifth rookie since 1970 with at least 400 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns through his first seven games.

Danielle Hunter recorded his 80th career sack, passing former teammate Everson Griffen for seventh in franchise history.

Camryn Bynum snagged two interceptions for the first time in one game and teamed up on a tackle with Harrison Smith of Christian McCaffrey. Smith forced a fumble by the running back that was recovered by Dean Lowry.

Up next is a renewal of the Border Battle between the Vikings (3-4) and Packers (2-4) at noon (CT) Sunday.

Before Minnesota's annual trip to Lambeau Field, here's a deeper look at Week 7.

Next Gen Stats

QB Comparison

Cousins, who led five consecutive scoring drives, could be referred to as "in the zone" after completing 35 of 45 passes, but his "stellar night" was built on his work against zone defenses implemented by San Francisco.

The 77.8 completion percentage was 12.4 points higher than expected, which was the second-highest above expectations in Week 7, according to Next Gen Stats.

NGS noted that Cousins completed 28 of 31 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown against zone coverage.

Cousins also had an extremely hot hand when throwing to the right of the formation, completing 16 of 18 passes for 224 yards and both touchdowns.

Niners QB Brock Purdy was 6-for-6 with 81 yards on passes to the right of the formation, but there was a big discrepancy between Purdy and Cousins on intermediate throws (10 to 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage).

Purdy finished 4-for-10 with 70 yards and both interceptions on such throws; Cousins, however, was 8-for-8 with 141 yards and his first touchdown of the night.

Hockenson & Addison

Almost all of Hockenson's damage was done working against zones. NGS noted 10 catches for 85 yards on 10 targets against zones.

Addison was a wrecking crew on in-breaking routes, with NGS counting 102 of his 123 yards being gained on such plays.

His 60-yard touchdown had a completion probability of 26.4 percent, which was only the seventh least likely completion of Week 7, despite the play's shock factor. The play also ranked third in Week 7 in terms of incredible YAC (yards after catch). The play gained 37, even though Addison was only expected to gain 3 after the reception.

Snap Counts

Cousins and all five offensive linemen — LT Christian Darrisaw, LG Dalton Risner, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Ed Ingram and RT Brian O'Neill — played all 70 offensive snaps.

K.J. Osborn led all offensive skill players for a third consecutive week. He handled 65 snaps, followed by 59 for Hockenson. Addison was in for 52, and Brandon Powell played 43 on offense.

At running back, Alexander Mattison played 37 snaps, compared to 27 for Cam Akers and three for Ty Chandler.

View game action photos from he Vikings vs. 49ers Week 7 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Five defensive players — safeties Josh Metellus, Smith and Bynum, linebacker Jordan Hicks and cornerback Byron Murphy, Jr. — played all 53 defensive snaps. Cornerback Akayleb Evans played all but one defensive snap.

Outside linebackers Danielle Hunter (47) and D.J. Wonnum (47) played 89 percent of the defense's snaps.

Lowry (40 snaps), Harrison Phillips (39) and Jonathan Bullard (37) all were in the game for at least 70 percent of Minnesota's snaps on defense.

From the Inbox

No J.J. (Justin Jefferson)? No J.A. (Addison) for a quarter? No T.J. for some drives? No problem. How ironic that our best team showing of the season came on a night where our three most explosive players were sidelined for all or some of the night. That's the Minnesota football I know and love.

— Alex in Central Virginia

Monday's game was a reminder of how much of a team sport football can really be. The 2017 squad was able to go 13-3 despite losing Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook before Week 5 because it played great team football.

It's always impressive when players rise up within a game, taking advantage of opportunities and meeting big moments.

Brandon Powell made some huge catches, and Trishton Jackson recorded his first career catch to set up Greg Joseph's final made field goal and boost Minnesota's lead back to eight points late in the third quarter. That proved huge with Purdy having to become more aggressive toward the end of the game because the Niners trailed by five.

The offensive lines and defensive lines deserve significant credit, too.

View the Vikings in Big Head Mode following their win over the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium.

That was some of the most consistent, dominating, well-played Vikings football on BOTH sides of the ball in a loonnnng time. Even over last year. Were some mistakes made? Sure, but not very many and they were overcome. Do I agree with some of the offseason roster moves? No. But it seems like these guys are coming together. That was close to, if not, [Super Bowl] quality play. Hopefully they keep the pace up.

— Brian from South Dakota

There were some really impressive stretches, and there also were some really key moments where the Vikings overcame some adverse situations.

The interception on the opening drive needed an answer, and the Vikings defense delivered by forcing a fumble Lowry recovered at the 11.

A very underrated play of the whole evening occurred three snaps later with Cousins drilling a pass to Hockenson for a gain of 16 on third-and-12. San Francisco had only allowed one conversion on 19 attempts from third-and-10 plus by 2023 opponents until that snap.

The conversion led to the first touchdown scored by Minnesota and the first allowed by San Francisco in a first quarter this season.

Last night's game against San Fran was something to be a part of and likely to be the signature win of the season.

As a fan that has been viciously critical of the interior offensive line for YEARS, and expecting them to be shamed on a national stage last night, I am thrilled to shut up and sound off about how well they stood up to that touted defensive front and showed out.

And Kirk — tough as nails. Heart, talent, poise and guts. Stood in for some tough throws and delivered some beautiful touch passes.

Last thought — before the trade deadline. Not considering Danielle Hunter on the same level that you will consider J.J. when it comes to securing the cornerstone players of your team would be a huge mistake. He will be the Vikings all-time sack leader if you give him the extension he's earned.

— MB in Arden Hills

Well, you're not the first who's expressed a critical viewpoint of the Vikings offensive line, but a performance like Monday can add to changing the narrative that has been expressed about that group. The unit knows it will continue to need to prove itself, but I also think the group is looking forward to doing so.

Glad you noticed Cousins' toughness on some of those throws. San Francisco didn't record a sack, but the Niners did total six quarterback hits. He seemed to feel the rush, anticipate and play through it, and set up teammates for success.

As some floated Hunter after Minnesota's 0-3 hole, only a few have countered that the star, who will turn 29 on Sunday, could still be a player the Vikings want to and are able to re-sign.

View postgame celebration photos from the Vikings - win over the 49ers in Week 7 of the 2023 season.

We spread the ball around. We ran effectively. We protected the ball. We created turnovers. We are moving in the right direction.

— Gerald Goblirsch

All of those elements are encouraging, particularly in protecting the football with only losing one turnover and taking away the ball three times. That plus-2 margin was in major contrast to Weeks 1-6.

San Francisco entered the game leading the NFL with a plus-8 turnover margin and had only committed three all season. Minnesota, meanwhile, entered Week 7 at minus-7, which was tied for 29th.

So many stepped up their game! So many accolades that I don't know where to begin. A long list of Vikings played their BEST game of the year vs the 49ers! Team discipline & smart play kept penalties from hurting us! Even though it was called back, I really enjoyed the double pass screen play! Feel bad for Greg Joseph leaving 4 points off the board … the team had his back!

— Randy in Las Vegas, Nevada

The view in U.S. Bank Stadium's press box is one of the better ones in the NFL, and the moment I saw Addison step back from the line of scrimmage, I thought of emailer Dee Dee Garrels, who had asked in Monday’s Mailbag if the Vikings would ever run a trick play. It was well designed and almost executed flawlessly.

It was very close as to whether K.J. Osborn was blocking or just trying to maintain his position, but the engagement with the defender resulted in a flag.

I'm sure Joseph feels bad about missing out on four points, especially the extra point right before halftime because that was immediately after such a momentous play.

Possibly the biggest win in quite a few years. Against a really good team. Definitely a big night for me as both the Vikes AND the Rangers won! I gave myself whiplash watching both games. By far the best performance so far this year on both sides of the ball. Third-down efficiency was great. Didn't punt until the 4th!?! Awesome! Kirk spread the ball around well AND had time to throw. Plus the o-line gave up no sacks. That was huge. D played well too, although Purdy sliced up the blitz. Then Bynum came up big — twice! Next week we head to Lambeau, and I along with my brother, a diehard Packers fan, will be there! First time to Lambeau for us, so wish me luck!


— J.B. Brunet

The conversion to Hockenson mentioned earlier set a nice tone for the Vikings as Minnesota converted eight of 13 third downs on the night, a clip of 61.5 percent.

Hope you and your brother enjoy the experience of Lambeau Field together, but also wouldn't mind if you are the happier of the two when you all are leaving the venue.

The Vikings are showing signs of life with lots of room on the bandwagon. While squeaking out wins against Carolina and Chicago weren't earth shattering results, last night's game shook the foundation a bit!

I was really surprised to learn, in the days leading up to the 49ers game, how highly ranked the Vikes o-line has been this year. Stats don't always tell the full story but I couldn't believe Minnesota had a top 3 pass block and run block win %... Until watching last night! No sacks and only 6 hurries on 45 dropbacks against a really good front seven (incredible). Not as successful with the run game but flashes throughout of potential (especially Cam Akers).

I video chatted with a friend from Minnesota the whole game and after the early interception, he commented he didn't think Addison was big enough to be great in the league. Having bought into the hype myself and drafted him on my fantasy team, I was more than thankful to be able to throw that comment back in his face all game! To lose a 50/50 ball three plays in, not drop your chin and make huge plays the rest of the game showed fight and resilience this team needs. Exciting to think about this offense when J.J.'s back!

Brian Flores has been showcasing his coaching talent all season. Using the tools at his disposal to keep the Vikes in games and keep the opposing QBs and coordinators on their heels. They won't overwhelm or dominate for 60 minutes but there does seem to be a steady improvement week to week. I don't think Flores will have to wait very long to be a head coach in the NFL again.

I think I read on ESPN last week, based off all the stats attributed to luck, the Vikings were the unluckiest team in the NFL heading into Monday's game. Again, stats can lie but I'd say every Viking fan would agree with that one. When you view the start to the season through those lenses, it changes the tint a bit on what we've watched. Taking a glimpse at the next six games, if the Vikings can hang around the middle of the league in luck related stats, the Purple might make it back to the playoffs? Might even challenge Detroit for the division? Or lose to Green Bay next week because it's the NFL.

Big win last night. While I'm not quite back on the bandwagon, last night got me stretching my legs and plotting out a route to catch it before it 'gets loose' like P.A. (Paul Allen) would say, lol. It's not easy being a Vikings fan and staying even keeled with the trials and tribulations the Purple put us through, but it's nice to know they'll always take us back when we're ready.

— Brian Marconett

Thankfully the Vikings couldn't really afford to look past the Bears in Week 6 after a 1-4 start. Even though it wasn't a savory victory, it was a much-needed division win.

Then, they followed by making that one count just a bit more by breaking the bad stretch of home games. Now, they can make Monday's win a little bit more significant by going on the road and winning in the division again.

Flores and his staff have done a tremendous job of quickly trying to form the identity and success of the defense despite being so multiple in personnel groupings and game plans. It seems like it's really starting to take shape.

There are rarely certainties in our world, but the Vikings making things interesting or keeping them that way, has been fairly reliable.

The question will be whether the Vikings can keep building positive momentum from the past two weeks and keep winning the turnover battle. O'Connell and others felt through Weeks 1-6 the team had failed to play its best. Now, it's up to them to make sure it wasn't a one-time display.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Jan. 7, 2024.

First time writing in, long time reader. Wanted to start out by saying thank you for all that you do. I always look forward to reading your content.

What a great display of what this team can do when all the parts are working together! Amazing team win. Let's hope we are mature enough to keep that effort and energy throughout the season. I truly believe the only team that can beat us, is us.

To my question, I feel like I get more nervous when our opponent has a third-and-long as opposed to a third-and-short. This is just my observation from a fan sitting on the couch, drinking an adult beverage and occasionally yelling at my TV. But I feel opponents are converting a lot of third-and-8+ more so than say third-and-5. To the point that I'd almost rather have them at third-and-5 than third-and-12. I was first wondering what the stats look like in this area, as far as if there is any truth to it. And if so, I'm wondering why that might be. Are we playing a much different scheme between the two distances, blitzing more or less, etc.?

Just a fan trying not to yell at their TV so much. Thank you for your time!

— Mike in Jacksonville, Florida

Appreciate your readership and that you decided to write in for the first time. It's really still so cool to me that this community of Vikings fans exists across the country and globe, and we can help try to be a conduit through our content.

I think the magnitude of having a team almost stopped (facing a third-and-10-plus) yet yielding a first down weighs so heavily because it feels like an opponent has been let off the hook or been able to make a play to sway momentum from a negative play. Those conversions just cement themselves in our brains as missed opportunities.

Looking at a quick review of stats, here's a rundown.

Third-and-1: 11 rushes by opponents and 6 first downs; 3 passes and 3 first downs

Third-and-2: 3 rushes and 1 first down; 4 passes and 3 first downs

Third-and-3: 2 rushes and 2 first downs; 2 passes and 1 first down

Third-and-4: 3 rushes and 2 first downs; 5 passes and 3 first downs

Third-and-5: 1 rush and 0 first downs; 7 passes and 4 first downs

Third-and-6: 2 rushes and 1 first down; 7 passes and 2 first downs

Third-and-7: 1 rush and 0 first downs; 7 passes and 5 first downs

Third-and-8: 1 rush and 0 first downs; 6 passes and 2 first downs

Third-and-9: no rushes; 4 passes and 0 first downs

Third-and-10: no rushes; 2 passes and 1 first down

Third-and-11-to-15: 1 rush and 0 first downs; 6 passes and 1 first down

Third-and-16+: no rushes; 8 passes and 2 first downs

After this basic stat listing (without doing a deep dive to review each play), I'm not sure why third-and-5 and third-and-7 have been so much more beneficial to opponents than third-and-6, but they have been so far.

As for the two third-and-16+, I think those boiled down to a couple of exceptional plays.