The Minnesota Vikings may have saved their season with a massive 22-17 win vs. the San Francisco 49ers under the lights.
Things got off to a horrid start for Minnesota when Charvarius Ward intercepted Kirk Cousins on the opening drive, prying the rock out of Jordan Addison's grip. But just as the 49ers got in the red zone, Christian McCaffrey coughed it up.
Cousins then led an impressive 10-play, 89-yard drive capped off by an Addison 20-yard touchdown haul before Greg Joseph added a field on another long possession. McCaffrey made it 16 straight games with a touchdown as the 49ers answered, but Minnesota came right back with a 60-yard Addison touchdown just before the first half ended.
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In the second, the 49ers kept things close and had an opportunity on a potential game-leading drive, but Brock Purdy threw an untimely pick. They were gifted a second chance after a Joseph missed field goal, but Purdy did himself no favors with another disastrous interception.
Let's analyze the game further with five winners and losers:
WINNER: Kirk Cousins, Vikings
You like that? Prime time Kirk had something to say under the lights, carving the 49ers' statistically elite defense like nothing. He completed 35 of 45 passes for 378 yards, two touchdowns and one pick for a 107.2 rating, which somehow feels too low.
His reading of the 49ers' pressure, where to move in the pocket and where his second and third options were stood out. This was the type of game Minnesota needed from him to have a chance and he more than did his part.
LOSER: Steve Wilks, 49ers
The 49ers' defense has too much talent to look below average on nights like this. The struggles can be pointed to different things: a lack of four-man pressure, corners playing too soft and a general lack of fight. But it mostly falls on defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who came from Carolina after replacing DeMeco Ryans.
Numerous play calls just weren't there as the 49ers couldn't get any key stops following Ward's initial pick. Zero sacks, an inability to get off the field on third downs and most importantly, calling a safety blitz at the end of the first half when Minnesota clearly wanted to throw it.
WINNER: Jordan Addison, Vikings
Did you know Justin Jefferson is a Viking? His absence was never felt in this game, rather it became a breakout performance for rookie receiver Jordan Addison. Addison should now be the clear-cut WR2 once Jefferson returns, torching the 49ers with seven catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns en route to a career night.
T.J. Hockenson also shined with 11 catches for 86 yards while Brandon Powell made some timely plays with his four catches for 64 yards. But this was a night for Addison to remember.
LOSER: 49ers' offensive depth
We can talk about the clear need of a CB2 alongside Ward, but the other side of the ball may need more attention. McCaffrey, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel hoard all the attention, but what happens when one or more of them are out? The 49ers' depth gets exposed there, which is the price they pay for fielding such top-end talent.
It doesn't help that 2022 third-round speedster Danny Gray hasn't panned out, which leaves just Jauan Jennings, Ronnie Bell and Ray-Ray McCloud. They're not bad players individually, but as a whole it's just not enough to stretch a defense.
On Purdy, he did his job keeping the 49ers in it all the way up until it mattered the most. San Francisco probably steals a win if he doesn't throw one pick, but he made it two and there's just nothing anyone else can do. The game fell on Purdy, but both of his throws gave his receivers no chance while Camryn Bynum nabbed both.
WINNER: Third-down conversions
The 49ers also didn't have the ball as much as they usually do, and that comes down to the Vikings converting their third downs time and time again. They missed a few in the final minutes that brought it down to an 8-for-13 mark, but that's still an efficient 61.5%.
San Francisco didn't have a bad night in that regard as it went 5-for-9, but the offense wasn't the primary issue despite the two late picks.