SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Vikings accused Nick Bosa of knocking right tackle Brian O’Neill out of the game Saturday, Jan. 11, with a “cheap shot.’’
In the third quarter of Minnesota’s 27-10 loss to San Francisco in a divisional playoff game at Levi’s Stadium, Kirk Cousins threw a pass that was intercepted by 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. On the return, Bosa, a rookie defensive lineman, hit O’Neill in the head area with an illegal block.
Bosa was flagged for unnecessary roughness, moving the ball back to the Minnesota 44 with 9:49 left in the quarter. And O’Neill was lost for the rest of the game with a concussion.
“I didn’t see the hit,’’ said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. “I just heard (players mention) it was a cheap shot, which I think it was.”
Vikings guard Josh Kline agreed.
“I thought it was,’’ Kline said. “There’s no reason for that hit in the game these days, especially when you go for someone’s head like that. It’s just very disappointing that someone would do that. There’s no place for that in the game. They put that block (crackback) out for a reason.’’
The 49ers led 17-10 after Sherman’s interception. They soon took a 24-10 lead on Tevin Coleman’s 2-yard touchdown run with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
O’Neill had a strong second season with the Vikings, and got one vote for All-Pro. After he was injured, Cousins was sacked four times the rest of the game. Cousins was sacked six times overall, with Bosa getting two of them.
“That’s my guy,’’ Vikings guard Pat Elflein said of O’Neill. “I don’t ever want to see that happen to him. ‘’
Goodbye for Griffen, Rhodes?
Defensive end Everson Grifen and cornerback Xavier Rhodes might have played Saturday for the Vikings for the final time.
Griffen can opt out in March of a contract that has three years left on it and calls for him to make $12.9 million for 2020. Even if he doesn’t opt out, the three-time Pro Bowl selection with no guaranteed money left on his deal likely would have to take a pay cut to remain with the team. If he is cut, the Vikings would incur $800,000 of dead money.
Griffen, in his 10th season, declined comment on his future. Defensive end Danielle Hunter, in his fifth season, said he doesn’t know what will happen but expressed gratitude for Griffen helping him become a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
“He’s been everything to me ever since I came in,’’ Hunter said. “He’s made me the player I am today. He’s a big part of it. And he means a lot to me.’’
Rhodes, in line to have a base salary in 2020 of $9.9 million, has three years left on his contract. The play of Rhodes has declined significantly since he was named all-pro in 2017 and made the second of his two career Pro Bowls.
Rhodes doesn’t have any more guaranteed money left on his deal. If the Vikings cut him, they would incur $4.8 million of dead money.
The 49ers ran 68 plays and the Vikings 45. So did Minnesota’s defense get tired?
“We just couldn’t get off the field,’’ said defensive lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo. “They were dashing us for four yards there, three yards there. Defense was getting tired.”
The 49ers outgained Minnesota 308 yards to 147. On the ground, the margin was 186-21.
After being inactive for last Sunday’s 26-20 overtime win at New Orleans to open the playoffs, Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was active Saturday as the No. 4 wide receiver.
Rookie wide receiver Alexander Hollins, who was active ahead of Treadwell as the No. 4 receiver against the Saints, was inactive Saturday. Hollins got in for one play at New Orleans but couldn’t hold onto a deep pass from Cousins in the fourth quarter.
Also inactive for the Vikings were safety Jayron Kearse, who had been ruled out Friday with toe and knee injuries, guard Dru Samia, tackles Aviante Collins and Oli Udoh, defensive end Eddie Yarbrough and defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa.
Inactive for the 49ers were quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back Jeff Wilson Jr., cornerback Dontae Johnson, tight end Daniel Helm, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, wide receiver Jordan Matthews and defensive lineman Kevin Divens.