The San Francisco 49ers have the NFL's top rushing attack after Week 1 of the regular season.
A franchise-record 230 rushing yards in a season-opening, 20-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and has put the 49ers atop the league's statistics. The offensive line and Pierre Garçon, who rushed for 168 of those yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground, deserve much of the credit. San Francisco leads the NFL with 5.9 yards per carry and did so with a long run of 18 yards.
"It was a good first start, especially after the preseason where we didn't have a lot of success as far as moving the ball, moving the chains," four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley said on a night when the 49ers surrendered one sack and three hits on Colin Kaepernick.
So while Hyde has received much of the praise for his open-field spin moves, "Levi's Leaps," and his overall breakout performance, the spotlight also deserves to be placed on San Francisco's new-look offensive line. The combination of Staley, left guard Alex Boone, center Marcus Martin, right guard Jordan Devey and right tackle Erik Pears controlled the line of scrimmage for most of Monday's victory.
Boone said the changes to the offensive line worked well in their first game as a five-man unit.
"We just go in thinking we're brothers – everyone has everyone's back," the guard said. "We have a lot of fun out there and there's a lot of smart guys, tough guys. That's what you want out there. They're not pretty, they're out there mauling people, having fun, getting dirty with it, and it was a great day."
The aggressive play was noticed by everyone who watched the game, too.
"The offensive line played their tails off," veteran receiver Anquan Boldin said. "Carlos ran great. Outside, we made plays when we had to. That's the identity we want to establish. We want to be physical up front because everybody knows that's where you win ball games."
Hyde's pair of rushing scores were a result of excellent scheme and decision-making by the young runner. Hyde's 10-yard score in the first half saw the first-time NFL starter spin away from Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen when Minnesota's defense over-pursued the ball carrier along the right side of the 49ers offensive line.
Boone said he didn't quite see the Sportscenter-worthy highlight.
"I think I was on the ground," Boone said. "I'm sorry."
The team's former right guard, who made his first NFL start on the left side of the line, made sure to point out Hyde should take care of his linemen in the form of dinner.
"Somebody owes me a steak, seriously," Boone said with a chuckle.
Hyde stuck with his blocks on the stretch play to his right and cut up the field to score from 17 yards outs.
San Francisco's offensive line did more than push Minnesota back. The unit was able to play with pace throughout all four quarters. Staley told reporters that the offensive rhythm curtailed the effort of the Vikings defensive line.
"Griffin told me that during the game," Staley said. "He said that first series was one of the hardest series he's ever had because of the tempo. We were running the ball, and we kept on coming so that's what the tempo can do for you and defenses. That's something we can build on all season."
Going into a Week 2 road contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who allowed 80 rushing yards in a loss to the New England Patriots, the 49ers offensive linemen will look to carry over what worked in Week 1.
As Boone suggested, Geep Chryst's offensive system appears to be setting up the team up for success in the ground game.
"A lot of it was Carlos making great cuts, and he runs so hard," Boone said. "A lot of people towards the end of the game realized he wasn't going to back down either. At the end of the day, it's a great scheme for him and our backs and the offensive line is doing well with it."