We hand out two game balls to the San Francisco 49ers from the Niners’ opening game of the 2018 NFL regular season, a 26-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
On yesterday’s Locked On 49ers Podcast, host Brian Peacock provided a rundown of the game — including game notes and key takeaways — and handed out two game balls from the San Francisco 49ers’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 of the 2018 NFL regular season.
Sunday’s matchup was the first game in recent memory where quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo — who threw three interceptions in the contest — didn’t deserve a game ball. Instead, both of our game balls go to standout members of the 49ers’ defensive unit:
49ers DT DeForest Buckner
On Sunday, defensive lineman DeForest Buckner began his 2018 campaign for Defensive Player of the Year with one of the more impressive performances of his career, particularly from a pass-rushing perspective. After barely missing numerous sacks throughout his three-sack 2017 season, Buckner almost equaled last year’s sack total in Week 1. The defensive tackle nearly completed a sack hat-trick in Minnesota, but fellow defensive lineman Ronald Blair was credited with a half sack the third time Buckner brought Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins to the ground.
In addition to his 2.5 sacks and constant quarterback pressure, Buckner was disruptive in the run game as well; the 49ers’ top defensive lineman finished the day with seven total tackles, including a tackle for loss. After two extremely solid seasons in the league, Buckner is on the verge of a breakout year in 2018:
49ers LB Fred Warner
Sunday was rookie linebacker Fred Warner‘s first NFL game, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from his play during the contest. The third-round draft pick flew around the field, making plays in the run and pass game, and finished the day with a game-high 12 total tackles and 11 solo tackles, as well as a forced fumble and a tackle for loss on Vikings running back Dalvin Cook.
Warner was great in coverage, outside of a reception allowed to wide receiver Adam Thielen, and was rarely tested by Cousins. Warner did knock away a pass attempt that was thrown his way, and also recorded a quarterback hit. Provided Warner continues to play at this elite level, when star linebacker Reuben Foster returns from suspension in Week 3, the 49ers may have the most dynamic inside linebacker duo in the NFL:
Listen to Locked On 49ers host Brian Peacock’s review of the San Francisco 49ers’ Week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings — including game notes and key takeaways from the Niners’ opening-day matchup — on yesterday’s Rapid React podcast:
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