SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After their famously tumultuous offseason, the 49ers played Monday night's season opener against the Vikings on their terms, in their new black uniforms.
With ACDC's "Back in Black" playing through the speakers Levi's Stadium throughout the night, the 49ers got a strong game from their new lead running back Carlos Hyde, who put his stamp on the night with 26 carries, 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was good enough, completing 17 of 26 for 165 yards and didn't turn the ball over. He was sacked by Minnesota's talented defense just once after being sacked 52 times in 2014, the second most in the NFL. San Francisco won, 20-3.
And the defense, led by the return of NaVorro Bowman, who had seven tackles, made running back Adrian Peterson a virtual non factor, with just 31 yards on 10 carries after missing 15 games last season while battling legal troubles.
The 49ers offense found its rhythm with its first drive in the third quarter and started to pull away. Kaepernick found tight end Vernon Davis on two completions for 20 and 19 yards, leading to Hyde's second score of the night, when he walked in from 17 yards out untouched through the right side on a cut-back run, giving San Francisco a 17-3 lead. Davis, following a down year in 2014, had three catches for 47 yards.
On Minnesota's ensuing drive, Bridgewater threw an interception to cornerback Tramaine Brock, who waited on the over throw. That led to a 25-yard field goal from Phil Dawson to make it a three-score game.
It was an eventful, albeit low scoring first half, with the only points coming on Hyde’s 10-yard run with :47 left in the second quarter. The run opened to the right, and Hyde spun back to the left past Vikings linebacker Audie Cole, to a wide-open left side of the field.
It wasuneven start to the regular season early on, particularly on special teams. Former Australian Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne muffed his first punt attempt. The Vikings blocked a 49ers’ field goal at the end of an 11-play, 70-yard opening drive.
But the road team couldn’t capitalize. With the wind in his face, Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh pushed a 44-yard field goal to the right on their first drive of the season following the blocked kick.
Peterson had just four carries for 14 yards in the first half, with Bridgewater completing 9 of 15 for 94 yards. The 49ers out gained the Vikings 204-113. Hyde was the early star, with 83 yards rushing on 12 carries in the first half. San Francisco finished with 395 yards to Minnesota's 248.
Kaepernick completed 9 of 14 in the first half, adding 31 yards on the ground.
On the 49ers' first drive of the second half, Phil Dawson culminated a 14-play, 73-yard drive with a 30-yard field goal.
The Vikings scored their first points on the second play in the fourth quarter, when Walsh hit a 37-yard field goal, making it a 10-3 game.
Reggie Bush left the game in the first quarter with a calf injury and didn't return, but head coach Jim Tomsula said he doesn't believe the injury to be serious.
Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.
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