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Monday Morning Mailbag: Breaking Down Sunday's Victory

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Great Week 1 win! Coach Zimmer wanted to see more turnovers this year and I think the defense is off to a great start. How would you evaluate the overall play of the offensive line?
-- Dave
Albany, NY

The defense is indeed off to a great start in terms of takeaways. They had four of them against the 49ers, plus they added three sacks and plenty of pressures and hits on Jimmy Garoppolo. The Alfred Morris fumble on the goal line was a huge play and a good reward for the Vikings after they bowed up pretty well even though San Francisco drove the ball as far as they did. Mike Hughes gave the team a boost early in the 3rd quarter by taking his interception to the house. As for the offensive line, they can definitely play better; they will be the first to tell you that and head coach Mike Zimmer said as much during his postgame press conference. All-in-all, though, it was a good outing for a group that is still learning to play together with starting center Brett Jones having just joined the team 10 days ago.

That was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. While our defense seemed to always come up with a timely sack, or a timely interception, it seemed the 49ers offense moved the ball pretty easily against our defense. Is that chalked up to first-game jitters, or do you think that Philly game last year gave teams something on our defense?
-- Cory Neville
Green Bay, WI

An ugly win? I agree there are things that need to be cleaned up, but that was a fun win at U.S. Bank Stadium yesterday. Kirk Cousins had two beautiful touchdown throws, the Vikings scored on defense and they harassed Garoppolo all afternoon. I get it that there were too many chunk plays allowed, but let's not go too far and say the 49ers had an "easy" time moving the ball against the Vikings. The Vikings defense held the 49ers to zero or one 1st down on seven of 12 drives, they took the ball away four times and had three sacks, and they allowed only 3.6 yards per rush.

The 49ers had a few players wide open which resulted in big plays. I see that as something we will fix. Other than that, our defense played well.
-- Gerald Goblirsch

Agreed. Coach Zimmer acknowledged that too many big plays were allowed. It seemed as if the 49ers did a good job of using misdirection to get fullbacks and tight ends in space and provide them with opportunities to make plays. I suspect Zimmer already has the problems diagnosed and he will begin the correction as early as in Monday morning's meetings. I also expect the Green Bay Packers offensive staff to notice the success San Francisco had with misdirection and then test the Vikings on their ability to diagnose and correct next Sunday at Lambeau Field.

I was really hoping that the offense would have taken a bigger step forward. The last two drives of the game when they could've put the game away, I'd say the play calling got very vanilla.
-- John McGuire
Lone Pine, CA

John DeFilippo called a good game in his Vikings debut. He used both Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray on the ground and then he also got Cook involved in the passing game with seven targets (six receptions). There were also several instances where receivers were wide open, which is often times a sign of good play design and timely play calls. Keep in mind, the Vikings called two passes on their third-to-last possession, when they were trying to run the clock out. That was aggressive. And then they lined up to go for it on 4th down in their second-to-last possession, which was another aggressive decision. I don't agree the offense got bland at the end of the game. The offense has some areas to clean up. There were a couple drops, there was a fumble and Vikings running backs averaged only 3.0 yards per attempt. But the offense also generated 244 yards and two touchdowns through the air, was seven of 17 (41%) on 3rd downs and possessed the ball for 31:09.