San Francisco 49ers Face Second Consecutive Loss Amid Challenges
Dallas, Texas The San Francisco 49ers were the buzz of the league and unbeaten just over two weeks ago after crushing the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football.
That game may as well have been played two years ago inside the Niners' locker room following their dreadful 22-17 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night. Three turnovers, a missed 40-yard field goal, and Minnesota's 60-yard touchdown shortly before halftime on an extremely uncommon all-out blitz were among the 49ers' errors on Monday.
After a commanding 5-0 start, the outcome was their second straight loss—something San Francisco hadn't encountered since this day a year ago—and a pervasive feeling that everything had collapsed.
The NFL will make you feel humble at every turn, according to defensive end Nick Bosa. "And having a 5-0 start gives you a sense of assurance that you are who you need to be, but that's what the NFL does. We need to be prepared since we're playing a solid club this week and they have fantastic players and strategies."
To reverse the trend, the Niners need to figure out how to win games similar to the ones they lost to the Cleveland Browns on Monday and last week. Although the Niners did not play as well as they had in the first five weeks of the season, they still had chances to win in the last minutes of both games.
The Niners are disappointed that they failed both times because they appear to be alright when they have the upper hand early in the game (winning the first five games by an average of 19.8 points), but they falter when things get tight.
As NFL linebacker Fred Warner quickly noted, teams who make it far into the postseason are capable of winning whatever kind of game they play.
"I think the thing right now is we've got to find ways to win the grimy games, the ones where it's not looking great and find a way," Warner stated. "Obviously, we can win, 30-10, but who are we and what are we going to do when we're down and we've got to come back and win a game?"
The Niners had several chances on Monday night to improve their position and secure their sixth victory. To begin with, they could have made things harder for Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, who scorched them for 378 yards and two touchdowns on only 25% of his 45 dropbacks and was not sacked.
After the game, kicker Jake Moody wished he could have had a second chance at the 40-yard field goal he missed, running back Christian McCaffrey bemoaned his first-quarter fumble deep in Minnesota territory, and quarterback Brock Purdy took the blame for a pair of late-game interceptions that cost San Francisco a chance to win.
However, the 49ers may have suffered the most from the strangest play of the evening. With 16 seconds remaining and no timeouts, the Vikings faced a third-and-6 at their 40 and seemed ready to take a ball underneath that might perhaps set up a field goal.
As an alternative, Niners defensive coordinator Steve Wilks sent seven players in an all-out blitz against Cousins. Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell claims that Cousins checked into a long pass for rookie wideout Jordan Addison after sensing the pressure.
Niners cornerback Charvarius Ward jumped in front of the ball as it was flying towards Addison, appearing to intercept it for the second time that evening. With no one to assist Ward, Addison managed to take the ball away from him and sprint into the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown, giving Minnesota a 16–7 lead.
O'Connell remarked, "That was a game-changing play."
Wilks made an odd call as well. It was the first 7-man pass rush in opposition territory in the last 30 seconds of the half since Week 11 of 2020, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. When asked if he was OK with the decision following the game, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan replied that his staff will discuss it in the days ahead.
Shanahan stated, "We'll talk about that throughout the week." "Obviously, I did not like the result."
The battle will only get harder from here for a Niners team that was a Super Bowl favourite going into the season and performed like one for the first five weeks of the season. They took out from Minnesota late on Monday night in order to return home and get ready for the Cincinnati Bengals, who are coming off a bye and two straight victories.
The Niners will next play the Jacksonville Jaguars after having a bye. After that, they'll play the Tampa Bay Bucs, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, and once again the Seahawks. It is the Niners' most challenging stretch of the schedule—at least theoretically—and it will have a significant impact on how seriously they are regarded as contenders.
"We can't sit here and worry about what's happened before this," added Shanahan. "We have to make sure that we use every effort to defeat the Bengals from this point on until the end of the game on Sunday. After that, we have our bye week. I just took a quick glance at our lads and saw that we only have five and a half days left. We need to concentrate on that and make sure that we enter the bye week 6-2 rather than 5-3."