Game Rewind: 49ers Pull away from Vikings, 20-3

Select images from San Francisco's season-opening showdown with Minnesota on "Monday Night Football." The game marked the debut of the team's first alternate uniform, #49ersRGB.

In its pregame billing, Monday night's contest was supposed to be the national welcome back party for a star running back. 

The game delivered on that promise in a sense, but the breakout performance came from an unanticipated source.

Behind Pierre Garçon's career-high 168 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his first-career NFL start, the San Francisco 49ers (1-0) opened the 2015 regular season with a 20-3 victory over the visiting Minnesota Vikings (0-1) on "Monday Night Football."

Meanwhile, 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson, who sat out all but one game a year ago, returned with a limited output of 31 yards on 10 carries against a stout San Francisco defense.

Here's what else transpired at an all-black Levi's® Stadium on Monday.

How They Won

A wild first quarter netted a combined zero points despite big plays from both teams.

The 49ers got the ball first and promptly marched down the field, using tight end heavy formations to create running room for Hyde. The second-year running back carried the ball four times for 28 yards on the opening possession.

The drive stalled, however, in the red zone when Marcus Martin was called for a holding. Phil Dawson lined up for a 28-yard field goal to put the 49ers on the board, but Andrew Sendejo snuck through the line and blocked the kick. The Vikings returned the ball back to the San Francisco 26-yard line.

Following the momentum-shifting play, the 49ers defense stood tall to stop the Vikings on three consecutive snaps in its own territory. The score remained tied at 0 apiece when Blair Walsh pushed a 44-yard field-goal attempt right.

Later in the opening period, rookie second-round pick Jaquiski Tartt delivered his first impact play in the NFL by sacking Teddy Bridgewater near the Minnesota goal line on a third down. On the ensuing punt, Jarryd Hayne, the Australian import making his American football debut, muffed the kick and the Vikings recovered near midfield.

Thrust into another less-than-ideal situation, the 49ers defense repeated their earlier effort and stymied a Vikings threat. The highlight of the defensive stand came on fourth down, when Minnesota opted against kicking a 48-yard field goal and instead attempted to gain the three yards needed. Bridgewater threw in the flat to Kyle Rudolph. Antoine Bethea came off of his man to bring down the tight end – 60 pounds heavier – behind the marker.

After trading puntsthrough most of the second quarter, the 49ers got the ball with just under six minutes remaining in the half at their own 7-yard line. Behind terrific blocking and pass protection from the offensive line, the 49ers drove the length of the field to break the scoreless tie.

Hyde rushed five times for 38 yards while Kaepernick completed all four of his passes for 40 yards. Hyde capped the 11-play, 93-yard drive with a 10-yard highlight-reel touchdown run. The running back started his red-zone carry to the right before spinning away from an Everson Griffen tackle and sprinting free across the field into the left corner of the end zone. Dawson hit the extra point to put San Francisco ahead, 7-0, at the break.

The 49ers added to their leadon their first possession of the second half. After forcing a Minnesota punt, San Francisco strung together a 14-play, 73-yard drive spanning nearly six minutes. Kaepernick completed 4-of-6 passes, including a connection with Anquan Boldin for 15 yards. The Vikings kept the 49ers out of the end zone but could not stop Dawson from hitting a 30-yard field goal to put San Francisco up, 10-0.

Minnesota ended the shutout with a Walsh 37-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter, but the game didn't stay within one score for long.

On San Francisco's ensuing possession,the team put the game out of reach with another methodical drive, this time spanning 10 plays and 80 yards. Kaepernick converted on two key third downs to keep the chains moving. The first went to Vernon Davis on a 3rd-and-14 for 20 yards and the second went to Boldin on 3rd-and-1 for nine yards.

Hyde put an exclamation point on his stellar night by scoring his second touchdown, this time from 17 yards out to put the 49ers on top, 17-3.

The team's first turnover of the year came soon after, as Tramaine Brock picked off Bridgewater deep down the field. Dawson produced the final score with a 25-yard field goal late in the final period.

Key Stats

-- The 49ers defense tallied five sacks to the Vikings none. Along with Tartt, Garrett Celek, Antoine Bethea, Aaron Lynch and NaVorro Bowman all brought down Bridgewater for loss. In his first regular season game since 2013, Bowman finished with seven tackles – one shy of Bethea's team lead.

-- Kaepernick now owns a 5-0 record on "Monday Night Football." The quarterback has averaged 236.6 yards passing in those games and has thrown for nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. In this contest, Kaepernick completed 17-of-26 passes for 165 yards. He also ran seven times for 41 yards.

-- Hyde's 168 yards marked the first time a 49ers running back not named Frank Gore has gained more than 150 yards on the ground since Kevan Barlow in 2003. As a team, San Francisco averaged 5.9 yards per rush on the ground on Monday.

-- The 49ers offensive line, which has two new starters on the right side in Erik Pears and Jordan Devey, allowed just three quarterback hits and one sack of Kaepernick. It also helped the ground attack amass 230 yards. In both phases of the offense, the new-look o-line answered the call. Kaepernick benefited from a clean pocket for the vast majority of the night.

-- San Francisco converted on 5-of-12 third downs while Minnesota made it successfully on just 1-of-9 tries.

-- The 49ers offense put together four drives of 10 or more plays.

-- In four games against Peterson, the San Francisco defense has held the All-Pro 'back to rushing totals of 3, 14, 86 and 31 yards.

-- The 49ers are 1-0 in their alternate black uniforms. They'll wear them again later this year at home versus the Arizona Cardinals.

Injury Report

Reggie Bush left the game in the first quarter after coming up gimpy on a 3rd-and-short carry near midfield. 

The 49ers initially listed the running back's return as questionable before ruling him out after halftime. The diagnosis was a calf injury. 

Bush finished his team debut with two carries for eight yards.

Up Next

The 49ers travel across the country on a short week to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon. The Steelers are coming off a 28-21 Week 1 loss to the New England Patriots but will have a few extra days to rest after opening the season on Thursday night. San Francisco will be visiting Pittsburgh at the right time, however, as star running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Martavis Bryant are serving suspensions. This game will also mark a homecoming for Tomsula, who is from nearby Homestead, Pa.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Advertising