Last week Vikings coach Mike Zimmer out-coached Super Bowl winning head coach Sean Payton. He shut Down three Pro Bowl players and held the hottest team in the NFL to just twenty points. This week he faces one of the most prolific play callers in all of football. Can Zimmer outcoach the young superstar head coach? Or will Minnesota be sent packing in the playoffs for the second time in three years before reaching the promised land?
Football starts up front, and both offenses are at a disadvantage. The 49ers are down two starting offensive linemen including center Weston Richberg, and this could lead to a multitude of issues. The Vikings defensive line is the heart and soul of their team, and are looking to dominate a much lesser group than what they faced last week. The biggest issue with replacing starters upfront is communication on blitzes. Expect a much more exotic blitz package from Zimmer this round of the playoffs. Blitzing safety nickel hybrid Andrew Sendejo out of the slot, and the patented double A gap blitz could lead to huge plays.
The 49ers offense starts with the run game, and ends with the play action pass just like the Vikings offense. Stud Coach Kyle Shanahan has built this offense from the ground up to be a Super Bowl winning product, but just how good are they?
Fans don’t need the help of stats to know the Saints offense is better than the 49ers, so it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect Zimmer and this defense to frustrate this offense for all four quarters. The best thing San Francisco does is run the football, which the Vikings are pretty good at defending. The 49ers are also kings of RAC yardage, but Minnesota just happens to be the #1 rated tackling team in football according to PFF.
The 49ers offense does not have a threat that you worry can score at anytime, as long as you can tackle. Tight end George Kittle is a fantastic Blocker and is even better at breaking tackles, but both Vikings safeties are at the top of the league in terms of coverage and tackling. If the Vikings can eliminate Jimmy Garoppalo’s top target with just one defender, his offense is bound to fail. It is also worth mentioning how poor Garoppalo is under pressure. He has a Quarterback rating under fifty when pressured. Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter are fresh off a game where they made an all pro tackle look like a rookie. The packages Mike Zimmer deployed against the #2 rated pass blocking team was nothing short of genius. Moving the ends inside made all the different in Sunday’s game and kept Drew Brees off balance.
Expect to see Zimmer follow up his performance last week with another dominant performance this week. The Vikings will hold the 49ers offense early and often, and it will be up to the offense to close out this game. While it won’t be easy there isn’t another coach in the playoffs that fans should trust more to stop potential coach of the year, Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers.