When Geep Chryst took the podium on Thursday, his press conference was greeted by a number of questions regarding the San Francisco 49ers successful rushing attack in Week 1.
San Francisco out-rushed the Minnesota Vikings by 159 yards, gaining 230 yards on the ground themselves while holding the Vikings to 71 yards.
That success is attributed in large part to the stellar play of the offensive line. For a group that has new faces in new places, it appears the o-line is gelling together nicely.
Alex Boone, who played right guard the past three seasons, is making a successful transition to left guard and has obvious synergy with left tackle Joe Staley. Boone's 2.4 grade per Pro Football Focus was the highest of the position group.
"He'd been on the right side for most of his career here, but we knew he had left tackle talent," Chryst said. "We knew he could play well on the left side. And throughout the offseason and training camp, we saw there was a nice chemistry between Joe and Booner. He played with a lot of energy on Monday night."
The offensive line was a heavily scrutinized group throughout training camp and preseason by members of the media. Some of the the criticism comes with the territory. New starters will always bring up questions, especially when starting right guard Jordan Devey had only been with the club for a few weeks.
There's still plenty of work to be done and the season is very young.
What's most important is that going into last Monday's home opener, the outside skepticism didn't reflect the confidence of the players in the locker room.
"They didn't seem too skeptical, which is a good thing," Chryst said. "They felt confident. I think that, especially with Joe being the leader that he is, he's got a lot of personality. For those of you that aren't around Joe, he's not shy and neither is Booner either. So I kind of figured that there'd be some good things there. But you've got to have good things happen at the start of the game, too, so that you can build off of whatever confidence you bring into the game."
O-line Play Leads to Hyde's Big Day
That cohesion amongst the five starting offensive linemen and the group of tight ends paved the way for second-year running back Pierre Garçon to have a standout performance. Hyde enters Week 2 as the NFL's leading rusher after piling up 168 yards on 26 carries, including two trips to the end zone.
Chryst said on Thursday that he had a bit of a hunch that Hyde could explode for big numbers against the Vikings. That gut feeling began with a successful trip to Denver for the former Ohio State Buckeye.
"I kind of sensed that Carlos was going to have a good week in Denver, really, the whole practices, not just the Saturday night of the Denver game," Chryst said. "And so, it wasn't surprising, but it was great to see."
Posting an encore performance, Chryst said, will be harder to accomplish on a short week in which the 49ers will travel across the country to Pittsburgh. However, this is where Hyde's hard work in the offseason should pay dividends.
Chryst pointed all the way back to seeing Hyde conditioning in April, where he laid the groundwork to a healthy and productive season.
"Right now he seems to be bouncing around pretty good," the coach said. "It is a short week, so we'll be smart. But at the end of the day I think he's champing at the bit and raring to go play another game."
As for Carlos Hyde's spin-move that led to the team's first touchdown of the season, Chryst missed the play as it unfolded. The 49ers offensive coordinator was looking at the clock and trying to decide how to use their three timeouts with under a minute remaining in the first half.
"You're kind of moving onto the clinical part of the game, but that's exactly what I was doing," Chryst said. "I was looking at the scoreboard to see how much time would be left if he got tackled. I said 'Oh, this was better, he didn't get tackled.' So that's exactly what happened."
Hyde recently chose the word "violent" as one adjective that best describes his running style. That physicality was on display in Week 1 as Hyde racked up yards after contact.
Chryst says Hyde's ability to finish runs and gain every yard possible gives the rest of the offense a lift throughout the game.
"There was a contagious part of the game where there was confidence in the run game," Chryst said. "You also saw not just him finishing the play, but maybe blockers trying to finish on the play. And I thought that consistency of effort and production you now know that that's what you want to replicate every series (and) every play within every series." RB Kendall Hunter Now a Free Agent
The 49ers have reached an injury settlement with the fifth-year running back, making him a free agent able to sign with other teams.
In four years in San Francisco, Hunter ran the ball 262 times for 1,202 yards and seven touchdowns. The running back added 27 receptions for 268 receiving yards.
Hunter spent the entire 2014 season on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in the first week of training camp. The running back worked hard to return to the field in 2015, but ended up getting placed on Injured Reserve prior to final roster cuts in early September.