Jimmy G is no longer undefeated and the 49ers definitely aren’t yet elite

QB throws trio of picks and Niners fall in Minnesota, 24-16

Tommy Call
September 09, 2018 - 4:35 pm

Heading into the 2018 season all we heard is how the 49ers are ready to make the next step into playoff contention, the buzz in the Bay Area was palpable.

Well, Game 1 is complete, and we know one thing about the 49ers — they are not ready to compete with the NFC elite. Although the 24-16 score shows the loss in Minnesota may have been close, the 49ers are far from close to showing they’re the team everyone hyped them to be after a 5-0 end to 2017.

Jimmy Garoppolo did not look like a man deserving of a $137.5 million contract. Jimmy G threw three interceptions and struggled with accuracy and pocket pressure.

The 49ers offensive line didn’t do their part in protecting Garoppolo, but that can’t completely derail the offense. Every quarterback in the NFL deals with pressure, and the Vikings are particularly great at applying it.

Garoppolo handled a congested pocket with such ease in his five games started last season. These are the type of big games against premier competition where Garoppolo needs to prove he’s worth the massive contract.

Joining the offensive line, the 49ers receiving corps didn’t do Garoppolo any favors in Minneapolis either. Drops were popping up all over the field. The 49ers only touchdown didn’t come till the end of the third quarter when Garoppolo was flushed out of the pocket and delivered a pass that sailed into the hands of rookie Dante Pettis at the edge of the endzone.

Outside of Pettis’s one dazzling touchdown catch, the receiving crew — sans the hamstrung Marquise Goodwin — disappeared. It was a disappointing showing for a position group that many, including myself, called the team’s best in recent memory.

Kendrick Bourne looked to have the biggest blunder of the day when he had a miscommunication with Garoppolo leading to a Vikings pick-six by rookie corner Mike Hughes. The first touchdown of Garoppolo’s season went to the other team — not how anyone wanted to start the season.

One of the biggest question marks heading into the 49ers season was their lack of depth and it showed against the Vikings.

Two injuries hit their offensive line, when both Mike Person and Joshua Garnett went down. Swing tackle Gary Gilliam had to play inside as the 49ers only dressed seven offensive linemen.

Goodwin’s injury extinguished offense’s spark, resulting in no game-breaking plays from the receiving corps. On top of the sloppy play, the 49ers offense never seemed to step-up in the big moment — whether it was a drop, or gaff in the redzone, like Alfred Morris’ fumble on the one-yard lime. The clutchness from Shanahan and Garoppolo that everyone seemed to become use to at the tailend of the 2017 season wasn’t available in U.S Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon.

The bright spot of the day was the defense, but that’s said with little enthusiasm.

DeForest Buckner looked elite, and Fred Warner looked like a nice piece to set next to Reuben Foster, but there’s still work to do on the defensive end.

There were several breakdowns in coverages that left Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs running wide open for easy connections with Kirk Cousins.

The biggest play came in the fourth quarter when Cousins baited Solomon Thomas into jumping offsides on a decisive fourth-and-one.

The 49ers defense was able to rally after the penalty and get the offense the ball back with a minute-plus left only down a touchdown, but again Garoppolo launched his third interception of the day effectively ending the 49ers chances and his perfect record as a starter.

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