Checking the Numbers: 49ers-Vikings Game

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 27: Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings is chased out of the pocket by Pat Williams #94 of the San Francisco 49ers at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 27, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 27: Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings is chased out of the pocket by Justin Smith #94 of the San Francisco 49ers at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 27, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

On Sunday afternoon, the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings played a game that went down to the wire, with a last second Brett Favre TD pass sealing the win for Minnesota. In a game where the 49ers seemed have pulled the road upset, Favre proved that the Vikings made the right decision to convince him to come out of retirement one more time. Minnesota needed an unbelievable play win this close game. By looking at the statistics, can that help understand what these two teams did to get that point? As I have done with several games in this season, here I wanted to look at this game from my own analytical perspective.

In this post, I took the box score stats from the game and compared how each team did against a combination of their season averages from the 2008 season and the 2009 season. Up to this point, I had been using only 2008, but I have begun incorporating 2009 numbers as well. For each team, I average per game for all games played in 2008 and 2009 prior to this weekend as the baseline. 

So, anyway, on to the numbers! (Box Scores taken from Yahoo! Sports and 2008/2009 averages from Pro-Football-Reference.com). Below, I have four tables.

49ers’ Offensive Boxscore vs. 49ers’ Offensive Averages

The first table is a comparison of San Francisco’s offensive numbers from this game with their average numbers from the beginning of the 2008 season up until last week. This gives an indication as to how well the Vikings’ defense performed in this game because it shows whether the 49ers’ offensive numbers were above or below their game averages.

Team Statistics Vikings’ Def vs. 49ers’ Off
  SF SFAvgOff % Difference
  First Downs 13 17.56 -25.95%
    Passing 8 10.72 -25.39%
    Rushing 3 5.11 -41.30%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 246 308.89 -20.36%
    Total Plays 52 60.06 -13.41%
    Average Gain Per Play 4.7 5.14 -8.62%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 58 104.22 -44.35%
    Rushes 26 25.06 3.77%
    Average Per Rush 2.2 4.16 -47.11%
  NET YARDS PASSING 188 204.67 -8.14%
    Yards Per Pass Play 7.2 5.85 23.13%
    Times Sacked 1 3.5 -71.43%
    Had Intercepted 1 1.06 -5.26%
    Fumbles Lost 0 0.94 -100.00%

The Vikings’ defense did a great job on the 49ers’ offense, holding them below their average offensive output in just about every category. They did a particularly good job stopping SF’s rushing game. It probably didn’t help that Frank Gore left due to injury. The 49ers’ main positives in this game offensively were in sacks (over 70% below their average), and turnovers. They had no fumbles lost, while they had been averaging about one lost per game.

Vikings’ Offensive Boxscore vs. 49ers’ Defensive Averages

The second table is a comparison of the Vikings’ offensive numbers from the game to the 49ers’ defensive averages. This tells us how the Vikings’ offense performed compared to 49ers’ defensive averages.

Team Statistics Vikings’ Off vs. 49ers’ Def
  MIN  SFAvgDef % Difference
  First Downs 19 18.28 3.95%
    Passing 14 10.83 29.23%
    Rushing 2 6.11 -67.27%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 377 322.11 17.04%
    Total Plays 75 64.22 16.78%
    Average Gain Per Play 5 5.02 -0.31%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 94 100.83 -6.78%
    Rushes 27 27.33 -1.22%
    Average Per Rush 3.5 3.69 -5.12%
  NET YARDS PASSING 283 221.28 27.89%
    Yards Per Pass Play 5.9 6 -1.64%
    Times Sacked 2 1.89 5.88%
    Had Intercepted 1 0.83 20.00%
    Fumbles Lost 0 0.33 -100.00%

The Vikings’ offense performed pretty well in this game. They were below the 49ers’ average rushing yards allowed, but in most categories they were near or better than San Francisco’s averages. In particular, Minnesota passed for nearly 30% above their opponent’s average.

Vikings’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Vikings’ Offensive Averages

The third table compares the Vikings’ offensive output in this game against their average offensive output from 2008 and so far in 2009. So, it gives an indication as to how the 49ers’ defense performed against the Vikings’ offensive averages.

Team Statistics 49ers’ Def vs. Vikings’ Off
  MIN  MIN AvgOff % Difference
  First Downs 19 18.28 3.95%
    Passing 14 9.28 50.90%
    Rushing 2 7.61 -73.72%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 377 325.72 15.74%
    Total Plays 75 62.94 19.15%
    Average Gain Per Play 5 5.17 -3.38%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 94 148.28 -36.61%
    Rushes 27 32.28 -16.35%
    Average Per Rush 3.5 4.59 -23.81%
  NET YARDS PASSING 283 177.44 59.49%
    Yards Per Pass Play 5.9 5.79 1.97%
    Times Sacked 2 2.78 -28.00%
    Had Intercepted 1 0.94 5.88%
    Fumbles Lost 0 0.83 -100.00%

SF did an admirable job containing Adrian Peterson in this game. They held Minnesota to over 36% below their rushing averages. The only problem is that they allowed the Vikings to pass for nearly 60% above what they had been averaging through the air.

49ers’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Vikings’ Defensive Averages

The fourth table compares the 49ers’ offensive output with the Vikings’ average defensive numbers. So, this gives an indication as to how the 49ers’ offense performed against the Vikings’ defense.

Team Statistics 49ers’ Off vs. Vikings’ Def
  SF MIN AvgDef % Difference
  First Downs 13 16.06 -19.03%
    Passing 8 10 -20.00%
    Rushing 3 4.72 -36.47%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 246 289.56 -15.04%
    Total Plays 52 59.56 -12.69%
    Average Gain Per Play 4.7 4.86 -3.33%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 58 80.44 -27.90%
    Rushes 26 23.61 10.12%
    Average Per Rush 2.2 3.41 -35.43%
  NET YARDS PASSING 188 209.11 -10.10%
    Yards Per Pass Play 7.2 5.82 23.76%
    Times Sacked 1 2.89 -65.38%
    Had Intercepted 1 0.83 20.00%
    Fumbles Lost 0 0.83 -100.00%

This table shows that the 49ers’ offense underperformed compared to the Vikings’ defensive statistics. Just as when compared against their own numbers, the 49ers were below the Vikings’ defensive averages, except in sacks and fumbles. So, while they didn’t light it up, they did give themselves the opportunity to win.

Overall, this was yet another tight game on the scoreboard, but the Vikings  had a sizable edge in yards gained. Of course, about 2/3 of that difference came on the Vikings’ final drive. I re-checked the Box Score, and the Vikings actually outperformed the 49ers in PRs and KRs. Both teams scored non-offensive TDs, with Percy Harvin returning a KO 101 yards for the Vikings, and San Francisco blocking a FG and returning it for a TD. That would most likely account for the Vikings having more yardage, since the 49ers actually scored on a Minnesota drive. This was a tight game pretty much all the way, but in the end, it was the wily veteran who led his team to victory.

Let me know your thoughts.

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2 Responses to “Checking the Numbers: 49ers-Vikings Game”

  1. Bert Says:

    FYI that’s Justin Smith not Pat Williams

    • wolfpacksteelersfan Says:

      Corrected, thanks. I thought it was surprising that the 49ers also had a Pat Williams. 🙂 That was the caption on Yahoo, where I got the picture from.

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