Carlos Hyde Shines in Debut as 49ers Lead Running Back

Yes, the post-Frank Gore era began on Monday night with a bang.

But it was a certain spin that captured the most attention in the official changing of the San Francisco 49ers rushing guard.

Making his first NFL start after serving as Gore's backup a year ago, Pierre Garçon dazzled under the primetime lights, totaling 168 yards and two touchdowns as the 49ers cruised past the Minnesota Vikings, 20-3.

"He ran aggressive," Colin Kaepernick said of Hyde. "That's what we need out of him. He came out and performed well."

Pegged to replace the franchise's all-time leading rusher, Hyde ran for the most yards by a 49ers running back since Gore amassed 207 yards in 2009. His Monday night total was also the most yards for a 49ers running back not named Gore since Charlie Garner delivered 201 yards in 2000.

Entering the Week 1 season opener, Hyde wasn't expecting to carry the ball 26 times. But after Reggie Bush went down with a calf injury in the first quarter, the second-year runner out of Ohio State saw his role expand.

"You just always have to be ready," Hyde said postgame. "Tonight I think I was ready."

Although the 49ers failed to score on their opening possession, Hyde set the tone early with four carries for 28 yards.

When the game was still scoreless near the end of the first half, Hyde took over again. On an 11-play, 93-yard drive, the running back rushed five times for 38 yards.

Hyde also provided the punctuation, scoring from 10 yards out for the team's first touchdown of the year. The 'back started his carry to the right before he approached Everson Griffen in the hole. Hyde then unleashed a sudden spin move to evade the tackler and bounce the run to the left side of the field and into the end zone.

"That's what you see him doing every day," Jim Tomsula said. "Almost got somebody hurt the other day."

Hyde capped his night in the fourth quarter with another touchdown run, this time from 17 yards out to put the game out of reach. He celebrated the score by leaping into the stands.

"I just try to be that momentum builder for our offense," Hyde said. "My o-line did a great job, and made it easy for me to hit those cutbacks that I was hitting tonight. I just had to be patient because there was a pretty good chance there was going to be a hole."

Not to be outshined, Hyde, No. 28, bested the other No. 28 on the field. The NFL's MVP in 2012, Adrian Peterson, was held to just 31 yards rushing.

"It's tremendous to outduel a guy like that who has led the NFL in rushing," Hyde said. "Adrian Peterson is a great running back. I can't take anything away from him. He's a guy I used to watch his highlights."

As San Francisco's new bell-cow 'back, Hyde told reporters that he has improved dramatically since 2014 – mostly out of necessity.

"I just think my approach to the game is totally different, just knowing that I'm that guy," Hyde said. "I took it upon myself to study, get into that film and go to practice and not take any reps off. I practice hard so when I get to Sunday, it's easy for me."

It sure looked that way on Monday night.

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