This was the game Trent Baalke dreamed about for months. A day after Frank Gore left his game with calf cramps, Carlos Hyde rushed for 168 yards and two scores, the first after one of the best spin moves in franchise history. The defense, led by NaVorro Bowman and a cast of characters mostly unknown to the national audience other than the starting safeties, held the Vikings to 248 yards and three points. Jim Tomsula made no tactical errors of note, and finished the night with a 2-0 lifetime record as head coach of the 49ers.
There were no delay of game penalties. Other than a blocked field goal and muffed punt by the Jarryd Hayne early, no egregious mistakes of any kind. Adrian Peterson did absolutely nothing. And the 49ers started off what looks to be an extremely difficult schedule with the win in their home opener that Levi’s Stadium — and its creators — wanted and needed so badly last year.
The first half of this game was almost comical, with the Vikings returning Phil Dawson’s blocked field goal deep into 49ers territory and Minnesota answering with a wide-right miss of their own. Reggie Bush was knocked out of the game with a calf injury on his second touch of the game. Colin Kaepernick was absolutely drilled after breaking a tackle along the left sideline.
As the game progressed, the 49ers found their legs while the Vikings seemed to ignore theirs. Peterson spent much of the second quarter on the bench and never got going in the second half against a team that always seems to contain him with relative ease. Cordarrelle Patterson had one catch for one yard.
It was everything the 49ers hoped for, and when Hyde scored his second touchdown and pointed at the closest defender, his near-taunting seemed to represent what Baalke and Jed York would probably like to do to every single media member — myself very much included (they wouldn’t even credential me for this game) — who questioned their wisdom.
They started last year 1-0 after beating the eventual NFC East champs, so putting too much stock in Week 1 is a perfect way to look like a moron in the weeks to come. However, the 49ers definitely have a defense and a running back on whom they can count. That’s exactly what Baalke thought they had when he defended his decision to “reload” instead of “rebuild” about nine months ago.
— Mike Davis should some run next week after being listed as inactive tonight. The 49ers were hesitant to allow Hayne to return punts after Bush’s injury, and Hyde had 26 carries in this game.
— Kenneth Acker’s PFF score is probably going to be through the roof tomorrow. Same goes for Aaron Lynch and Antoine Bethea.
— Bethea did get away with an obvious pass interference in the end zone, however.
— Trent Dilfer and Chris Berman definitely smoked a cigarette together in the broadcast booth after climaxing for three straight hours.
— Kaepernick (17-for-26, 165 yards passing, 41 yards rushing) got better as the game progressed, and his 3rd-and-14 throw to Vernon Davis was probably his best completion.
— The 49ers’ offensive line was soooo much better than anyone thought. Hyde’s second touchdown came on a run to the right side, surprisingly enough. The 49ers dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides in this game.
— The black uniforms are fine. I don’t really care either way. They looked less weird when the 49ers had the lead, that’s for sure.