MINNEAPOLIS -- Through no fault of his own, as well as plenty of fault of his own, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggled Sunday against the reigning top defense in the NFL.
Garoppolo completed just 15 of 33 pass attempts for 261 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions in the 49ers’ season-opening 24-16 loss to the Vikings.
“I thought we blew a lot of opportunities that you cannot do versus a good team, especially on the road,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.
The 49ers scored only one touchdown on their four trips inside the Vikings’ 20-yard line. They settled for two field goals, and running back Alfred Morris fumbled the ball away at the 1-yard line. One of Garoppolo’s three interceptions was returned for a touchdown -- a play that wide receiver Kendrick Bourne admitted was his fault because he ran the wrong pass route.
“They are a talented group,” Garoppolo said of the Vikings’ defense. “We knew that coming into it. We knew it was going to be a tough challenge with the environment, going against a good team. With all the things that went bad, we still had a shot at the end. It was a tough way to end it.”
The 49ers took over at their own 11 with 1:49 remaining in regulation, trailing by eight points. After throwing incomplete for running back Matt Breida on first down, Garoppolo’s pass intended for wide receiver Trent Taylor was intercepted by Vikings safety Harrison Smith to end the 49ers' final hope.
“I will see more when I watch the tape, but none of us did good enough to win today, especially on offense,” Shanahan said.
Throughout the game, the 49ers failed to take advantage of big-play opportunities. Rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Garoppolo late in the third quarter, but he couldn't hold onto a would-be TD pass in the first half against the coverage of Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes.
Wide receiver Pierre Garçon also didn't come down with a potential TD reception when he made a leaping attempt amid a couple of Vikings defenders in the end zone in the second half.
“He did his job as best as he could,” Garçon said of Garoppolo. “We just have to make those plays for him, protect him and help him out.”
Tight end George Kittle caught five passes for 90 yards, but he was agonizing over a deep over-the-shoulder pass that slipped through his hands.
“I misjudged it,” Kittle said. “I thought it was closer to me. I probably ran a bit too far with my arms out. Just a bad play. That’s on my shoulders. It’s a play we hit all the time, so I’m pretty disappointed in myself for that.”
It was the first time in eight NFL career starts that Garoppolo didn't come out on the winning side. The 49ers went on a five-game win streak at the end of last season after Garoppolo replaced C.J. Beathard in their starting lineup.
“You never want to lose,” Garoppolo said. “It sucks. But we’ve got a good group in there. I think we have the right mindset of coming in tomorrow, watching film and bouncing back next week.”