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Maiocco: Why Jimmy G, Shanahan impressed in win vs. Vikings

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We’ve seen this before from the 49ers earlier in the season.

No, not the formula for success.

This was the recipe for disaster.

The 49ers got back to the .500 mark with three wins in four weeks. In those winning games, the 49ers did not commit a turnover and, often, got an early takeaway to seize momentum.

That kind of success in the takeaway/giveaway department allowed the 49ers to gain extra possessions and the opportunities for quantity and quality of running plays to control the clock and the games.

Again, the 49ers found success with their running game in their pivotal 34-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.

But what made this game more impressive was the way it started.

It began with Jimmy Garoppolo making a poor decision. It started with coach Kyle Shanahan meeting up with Garoppolo on the 49ers’ bench, covering his mouth and, clearly, having some choice words for his quarterback.

A few hours later, the sanitized version from Shanahan as he shared his thoughts with the media was plenty harsh enough: He called Garoppolo’s interception “inexcusable.”

Garoppolo understood his mistake and the method by which Shanahan expressed his view.

“Well, naturally,” Garoppolo said. “It wasn't a good decision. I have to be better than that with it. Just take the check down. They were giving those to us early and I just need to be more efficient with those.”


OK, back to the impressive part.

During the 49ers’ four-game losing streak — and again in their lackluster loss to the shorthanded Arizona Cardinals in Week 9 — the 49ers made a mistake early and could never snap out of it.

Shanahan immediately splashed some cold water on Garoppolo’s face when that happened against the Vikings.

Coaches can deal with physical errors. And, obviously, Garoppolo was not always pinpoint with his passing accuracy on Sunday.

Shanahan’s issue was with Garoppolo’s decision-making and not following through on the coaching points during the week.

From that point forward, Garoppolo made all the right decisions.

Shanahan and Garoppolo expertly teamed up to execute a precision drive that lasted 8 minutes, 20 seconds at the conclusion of the first half.

It ended with Garoppolo’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings that did not leave enough time for the Vikings to do anything with the ball.

Then, the 49ers received the kickoff to open the third quarter and scored again.

That momentum only continued when Azeez Al-Shaair, taking advantage of a coaching adjustment, intercepted Kirk Cousins on the Vikings’ offensive play of the second half.

The 49ers scored 21 points during a game-turning period of time in which they held the ball for 11:53 compared to the Vikings’ time of possession of just 36 seconds.

Three weeks ago, Shanahan was fielding questions about playing young players to get them experience for the future.

Now, riding a three-game winning streak, the 49ers are making their move and appear to be asserting themselves as a true contender in the NFC.

Obviously, it has not been easy on anyone.

Garoppolo’s ultimate replacement, Trey Lance, remained on the sideline. It has been an uneasy situation for both Shanahan and Garoppolo to navigate, but they are handling it well.

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With Garoppolo knowing he will not be with the 49ers for the long term, and Shanahan knowing his preferred long-term quarterback is waiting for his chance, how they dealt with the tough times this season has already proven a lot about both of them.

And, for once, the 49ers demonstrated against a playoff-caliber team they are capable of showing resiliency when everything does not go perfectly from the beginning.

“We've been taking a week-by-week mentality and just trying to get one win at a time and it's done well for us the last three weeks,” Garoppolo said. “So I think we've got to keep doing that going forward and we'll be in a good spot.”

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