49ers studs and duds: Elijah Mitchell picks up where he left off against Vikings

SANTA CLARA — A look at studs and duds from the 49ers’ 34-26 win Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium:

Studs

Running back Elijah Mitchell: Coming back after missing a single game following surgery to insert a pin in the broken middle finger of his right hand, Mitchell had his fourth 100-yard plus game of the season to power the 49ers running game. Consistent throughout, Mitchell gained 133 yards on 27 carries.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo: Who said the 49ers lose every time Garoppolo throws an interception? They were 0-4 when Jimmy G throws a pick this season, but he weathered an early one to Harrison Smith to direct the win. Garoppolo hit some key third-down throws — including a pair of third-and-longs to Brandon Aiyuk during touchdown drives. Garoppolo was 17 of 26 for 230 yards and had a 3-yard TD pass to Jauan Jennings.

Defensive end Nick Bosa: With Minnesota showing some momentum after a touchdown on its previous possession, Bosa blew past highly regarded rookie first-round draft pick Christian Darrisaw at left tackle. The resulting sack was Bosa’s 11th of the season and helped force a Vikings punt with 8:38 left in the half. The 11 sacks are the most for the 49ers since DeForest Buckner had 12 in 2018.

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk: Garoppolo’s favorite first-half target caught just two passes in the opening 30 minutes, but both were huge third-and-long connections on drives that resulted in touchdowns. On third-and-13 on the 49ers’ first scoring drive, Garoppolo found Aiyuk for a 37-yard gain. Then before halftime, Aiyuk caught a 24-yard dart from Garoppolo to help set up a scoring pass to Jauan Jennings.

Running back/wide receiver Deebo Samuel: Rushed for touchdowns of 3 and 20 yards, gained 66 yards on six carries and caught one pass for 12 yards before leaving late in the third quarter with a groin injury. Samuel took a 3-yard loss on the play, in which he ran to his left, stopped abruptly and was hit by Vikings linebacker Nick Vigil.

Defensive tackle Kevin Givens: Hit Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook for a loss, overpowering guard Olisaemeke Udoh, forcing a fumble recovered by Azeez Al-Shaair at the Minnesota 9-yard line. Cook injured his shoulder on the play and left on a cart. The 49ers turned the turnover into three points on a 22-yard field goal by Robbie Gould for a 34-26 lead.

Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair: Al-Shaair stepped in front of a Kirk Cousins pass and returned it 24 yards to the 2-yard line as the 49ers seized momentum and took a 28-14 lead. It came after the 49ers had scored on their opening possession of the half. Al-Shaair has played well in place of Dre Greenlaw, and he may be needed extensively in weeks to come. Greenlaw came off the injured list but left with a groin injury in the first half and did not return. Fred Warner also departed with a hamstring strain, leaving Al-Shaair pretty much the lone ranger in terms of established linebackers.

Duds

Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans: On an 80-yard drive that put the Vikings up 14-7 in the first half, Ryans called a defense that had linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair responsible for covering fleet wide receiver Justin Jefferson on third-and-2. It went for 15 yards to the 27-yard line before Jimmy Ward pushed Jefferson out of bounds. Then from the 20, safety Talanoa Hufanga was isolated in the end zone on Adam Thielen. It was a mismatch. Thielen was wide open, reaching back for a 20-yard touchdown with 12:42 left in the half. The 49ers were also suckered into big gains on two big plays — a flea-flicker from Cousins to Thielen for 29 yards and a Jefferson-to-Cook 24-yard gain. Both came on Minnesota touchdown drives.

Kickoff return unit: We’ll let special teams coach Richard Hightower sort it all out later, but after the 49ers had taken a 31-20 lead on a 46-yard field goal by Robbie Gould, lightning struck for the Vikings. It came in the form of Kene Nwangwu, who burst through a gaping hole and raced 99 yards for a touchdown to bring Minnesota within 31-26 with 4:46 left in the third quarter.

Guard Laken Tomlinson: Had a pair of holding penalties, one in the first half and one in the second. Both put the 49ers behind the sticks in down and distance but weren’t ultimately too costly. The 49ers scored touchdowns on both drives. To be fair, Tomlinson had a key block on Mitchell’s 2-yard run that put the 49ers up 28-14 in the third quarter.

Kicker Robbie Gould: With the 49ers leading 34-28 and a chance to put the game away, Gould missed a 42-yard field goal attempt that gave Minnesota the ball back at their own 32 with just under two minutes to play. Minnesota got as far as the 49ers’ 37-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

© 2022 KQPT-FM. Internet Development by Frankly Media.