At some point in the off-season, you tend to get stir crazy for football. You start getting snippy with your friends and family, and with no Vikings news to really talk about, you start talking about easy topics, like politics, abortion, and religion , for example.
Maybe a little Middle East Peace problem solving exercise thrown in, just for good measure.
And juuuuuuuuust when you’re ready to start shanking people because damn it Susan if you mention that omnibus spending bill one more time that gives two million bucks for studying shrimp running on a goddamn shrimp treadmill I swear on the grave of my high school accounting teacher I’m going to carve your tongue out of your mouth with a $30,000 spoon...along comes the first game of the year against the 49ers.
We made it.
But freakin’ Susan, man. I might shank her anyway, and as she’s bleeding out I’ll maniacally laugh ‘FREE, SUSAN! THIS SHANK COST ME ZERO DOLLARS AND ZERO CENTS!!!’
But instead we’ve been saved! You saved us, San Francisco. And you saved Susan. Didn’t they, Train?
I’ve been high
I’ve been low
I’ve been yes, and I been oh hell no
I’ve been rock ‘n roll and disco
Won’t you save me San Francisco
Your opening day SMR that’s also going to intercept Jimmy Garoppolo follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
Mike Hughes, the guy that totally shouldn’t have been drafted in the first round or something: Have a debut, Mike. He had a pick six on his first career interception, and then had a huge pass breakup in the end zone to prevent a 49ers touchdown. He got mixed up on a long pass to Dante Pettis, but overall had a good game. And when you have pick six in your NFL debut and an overall good performance otherwise, enjoy your blue chip stock, young man.
Kirk Cousins, Hollywood Leading Man: Granitejaw McDreamy had an impressive debut, and was a large reason the Vikings jumped out to a 24-6 lead. He made some incredible throws that I don’t know past quarterbacks on this team make, and he also threw his 100th career TD pass. But if there was a criticism in his game, it was that in the 4th quarter, when he really needed to make a play to salt the game away, he couldn’t connect with anyone. It’s a bit of a minor point in an overall good performance, but one of the reasons the Vikings signed Cousins was to salt the game away if he had to.
But that hard count to draw the 49ers offsides on 4th and 1 late in the 4th quarter was impressive, though.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota native. Thielen picked up right where he left off last year. He had an uncharacteristic drop, but after an uneven preseason with Cousins, Thielen had a really good performance today. This morning on the NFL Network, Steve Smith said Adam Thielen had a PhD in route running, and that’s honestly the best description of his game that I can imagine. He’s so precise and exact that he gets open regularly, and that was apparent again today.
Andrew Sendejo, human missile: Sendejo brought more wood to work today than Ron Jeremy in his prime. A lot of people thought that with the new NFL rules, and Sendejo’s ‘Make Football Violent Again’ hat to protest those rules, he might have trouble adjusting. Not only did he adjust, but he caused a huge fumble on the goal line, when 49ers RB Alfred Morris was trying to score from the one. Sendejo and Joseph knocked the ball out, Harrison Smith recovered, and the Vikings dodged a bullet.
Harrison Smith, GOAT: Great players make great plays in great moments. Today, Smith made three. In the second quarter, with the 49ers on the doorstep of a touchdown, he recovered the Bell fumble, like we mentioned above. Midway through the fourth quarter, with the Niners getting some momentum and the defense needing a stop after the offense went three and out, Smith blitzed on third and 10 and sacked Jimmy Garoppolo for a 10 yard loss. The 49ers punted, and any realistic chance to win the game was gone. But they still had a chance. They got the ball back with 1:49 left deep in their own territory, and on second down Jimmy Interception threw a beautiful dart right to the Hitman. Ball game.
Stefon Diggs, Miracle Man. Diggs had a fantastic throw and catch TD in the second quarter, and another nifty catch and run, but was fairly quiet in the second half. It wasn’t a bad day, but when it was getting to crunch time, I was hoping to see Diggs make a play. Cousins didn’t really look his way, though, but overall it was a nice debut.
Danielle Hunter, 240 pounds of moving pissed off. Hunter brought pressure all afternoon, and had a nice sack of Jimmy Grass Stains. He also had another sack nullified by a defensive holding penalty right before the goal line fumble. His lateral speed is almost eye popping, as he also had a tackle for loss when San Francisco foolishly tried to run to the edge on his side.
Sheldon Richardson, Enterprise Rent A Car spokesman. Richardson was really disruptive at the three technique today. he made for some tough running for the 49ers at times, had half a sack, three QB hits, and kind of makes you think how good Shariff Floyd could have been in this defense had he been able to stay healthy. if this is what we can expect week in and week out from Richardson, I’m all about an extension if they can work something out.
Tom Compton, who ironically plays ‘guard’. I get that DeForest Buckner is a really good defensive tackle. I get that Compton isn’t considered a front line starter in the NFL. But...he has to do better than that. He was overpowered and pushed around pretty regularly, and it became apparent to me that the sooner Pat Elflein comes back and Brett Jones can slide to LG, the better things will be for everyone. Compton’s play highlighted the line as a whole. No one really had a particularly good day, as Cousins was sacked three times, and the VIkings as a team only averaged 3.6 yards per carry.
Buy: Going for points at the end of the first half. I really liked the aggressiveness to get some points at the end of the half. After the fumble recovery, Minnesota had the ball on their 2, with 2:12 left. It would have been easy to maybe play for a first down, run out the clock, and go to the locker room with a 10-3 lead. But the Vikings got aggressive and pushed the ball upfield, and lo and behold, with 42 second left they were near midfield with a timeout left, and a real opportunity to get in to field goal range, at a minimum.
Sell: The last three plays of the drive to end the first half. Then I don’t know what happened. Well, I do, but it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Or a Tarvaris Jackson sequence, your call. The Vikings threw a pass to Dalvin Cook that lost six yards thanks to Cook taking nothing and making it worse. Then instead of calling a timeout, Minnesota chose to run a play...which was a downfield heave of two yards to Laquon Treadwell. After a timeout, the offense, wanting to REALLY out do themselves, said ‘hold my beer’ and Cousins took a sack to end the half. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT......
Buy: Dalvin Cook, pass catcher. The Vikings fed Dalvin Cook early and often, and when he got the ball in the flat it looked like he had never been injured. He was fast, fluid, and made some great plays on the edge, catching six passes for 55 yards. In the game, only Adam Thielen was targeted more in the passing game, and it was a nice debut for him coming off his ACL injury.
Sell: Dalvin Cook, runner. As good as he looked catching the ball, he didn’t have a good day running. He averaged less than three yards a carry, and on his longest run of the day, a 15 yard duck, stop, and then go, he fumbled and Dicky Sherman recovered. His offensive line didn’t help him a whole lot, though, so hopefully this aspect will improve as the season goes along.
Buy: The goal line stand and fumble. That was a thing of beauty, and straight out of the Purple People Eaters era. They stuffed the 49ers running game four times, and on the last attempt they forced a fumble and recovered the ball, dodging a major bullet and leaving the 49ers going ‘we went 14 plays for this’? YES YOU DID...YES YOU DID BRETT!
Sell: The 13 plays preceding that fumble. But that drive that got San Francisco on the doorstep was a bit troublesome. They converted three first downs, and the Vikings committed a defensive holding penalty on second down that nullified a big sack by Danielle Hunter. They gave up plays of 14, 14, and 11 yards, and it felt like the 49ers had figured out what the Vikings were doing.
Buy: The defense forcing four turnovers. A lot of times last year, as good as the defense was, it felt like they left turnovers on the field. Today, they seemed to take advantage of every San Francisco miscue, and they all seemed to come at the perfect time. Anytime your defense forces four turnovers, you’re probably going to win, and two of those turnovers—the Hughes pick six and the goal line fumble—were a minimum 10 point swing that turned out to be the difference in the game.
Sell: The defense needing to force four turnovers. That second quarter drive that ended in the goal line stand fumble recovery was a symbolic drive that encapsulated the defensive performance all day. They had some bad breakdowns, gave up some huge plays that would have been even more if the 49ers execute, and just seemed...off...at times in ways they weren’t last year. They gave up three passes of more than 30 yards, a couple more guys were wide open, and they were susceptible to bootlegs and runs between the tackles. It was a good team win, don’t get me wrong, but there is stuff that needs to be cleaned up on both sides of the ball.
Kirk Cousins, nimblefoot. I was kind of familiar with Cousins’ game before he got to Minnesota, but one thing I wasn’t aware of was his nimble feet. He’s not ever going to be confused with Steve Young or Mike Vick, but I was impressed with his ability to move in the pocket to keep a play alive, or keep the ball and run with it.
Kirk Cousins, gritty dude diving head first for a first down. All that said...DON’T DIVE HEADFIRST LIKE THAT EVER AGAIN, MY MAN. Look, I appreciate you’re the team leader, and it was a hard nosed play because you’re a hard nosed guy, and you want to set the example for your team and blah Blah BLAH. But your dead cap money number is waaaaaaaaaaaay too big for you to do stuff like that. And you didn’t even get the first down.
Just keep drawing guys offsides. It’s much safer.
Grandson Quote Of The Week:
So the two oldest boys are five now and in Kindergarten. How time flies, right? Anyway, after the game, I took a break from this labor of love to go eat dinner. This is the conversation I had with one of the five year olds:
Grayson: Papa, did the Vikings win or lose?
Me: Why, they won, 24-16!
Grayson: They did?
Me: Yes, it was a very good game!
Grayson: Don’t they usually lose when you want them to win, though?
He’s gonna make a great Vikings fan one day. Actually, I half expected him to rip off his shirt, exposing an Eagles jersey and then do a mic drop with a ‘38-7’ comment.
So, it was a little sloppy, we got a little nervous, but the good guys prevail and are 1-0.
Welcome to Green Bay week. Skol Vikes, Puck the Fackers.