49ers vs. Vikings: Studs and duds

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SANTA CLARA — Here is how the 49ers’ playoff opener is unfolding through the first half against the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium:

STUDS:

QB Jimmy Garoppolo: His first career playoff start began with a touchdown drive, and it came on the 49ers’ first postseason possession since Colin Kaepernick’s end-zone interception in the 2013 NFC Championship Game loss at Seattle. Garoppolo was 5-of-6 for 57 yards, the lone incompletion slipping off George Kittle’s outstretched hands. Kendrick Bourne’s 3-yard touchdown catch over the middle came with cornerback Xavier Rhodes trailing in coverage and Garoppolo dropping the ball over safety Anthony Harris. Receptions by Deebo Samuel (10 yards) and Emmanuel Sanders (22 and 11 yards) sparked the drive.

Garoppolo came up limping a bit on his rebuilt left knee (see: 2018 ACL repair) after completing a 16-yard prayer to Kendrick Bourne that put the 49ers in Vikings territory on the 49ers’ second possession.

WR Kendrick Bourne: His first two catches were beauties: a 3-yard touchdown catch on the 49ers’ opening possession and a 16-yard reception on a third-down, desperation throw from Garoppolo, who got sacked on the next snap by Danielle Hunter after a timeout.

 

Opening defense: The 49ers forced a three-and-out, allowing only a 3-yard run to Dalvin Cook on the opening snap before DeForest Buckner stuffed him for no gain on second down. After a third-down incompletion (with Dee Ford rushing from the edge), the Vikings punted.

DUDS

Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon: Benched late in the regular-season finale at Seattle, Witherspoon stayed in the starting lineup, and the Vikings preyed on him to answer the 49ers’ first touchdown with one of their own. He first got tagged for a pass-interference penalty, then came a 12-yard catch by Adam Thielen on third-and-2, then a 41-yard TD catch by Stefon Diggs — also on third-and-2. Emmanuel Moseley replaced him on the next series and made a third-down stop. Then, on the sideline, Witherspoon sat on a cooler away from the defensive backs on a bench and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh went over to give what looked like a pep talk to Witherspoon

Right tackle Mike McGlinchey: He allowed Danielle Hunter as the first Viking to sack Garoppolo, and McGlinchey committed a false-start penalty one snap later.