After perhaps the worst offseason in 49ers history, all is good again.
The 49ers – wearing their new alternate black-and-red ninja-like uniforms – defeated the Minnesota Vikings 20-3 at Levi’s Stadium Monday night in the 2015 season opener. And in doing so, they made new head coach Jim Tomsula a prophet.
Back in February, Tomsula talked about running back Carlos Hyde as a budding star. The second-round pick in 2014 from Ohio State had a solid first season backing up Frank Gore, but no one was certain Hyde was yet ready to take over Gore’s bell-cow status. Tomsula, however, was confident.
“Carlos Hyde’s a heck of a football player,” he said then. “You’ve seen it in college, and you’ve seen it translate to the pro field. You’ve seen the guy run, his vision, he can plant, he can re-direct. I like his speed, I like his burst. I’m really excited about Carlos Hyde.”
In his debut as the 49ers’ No. 1 back Monday night, Hyde was everything Tomsula said, and more.
He ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns, the most yards by a 49ers running back, with at least two scores, since Gore did it in 2009.
His first touchdown, giving the 49ers a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, was a thing of beauty. He ran right, was cut off by Vikings defenders, used a spin move to elude one would-be tackler, than sprinted left untouched on a 10-yard TD run.
In the fourth quarter Hyde scored again on a 17-yard run to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive that promptly answered a Vikings field goal.
The San Francisco offense, which looked so woeful during preseason games behind a shaky offensive line, was sharp. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 17-of-26 passes for 165 yards and no interceptions and had time to throw, connecting with eight different receivers. The game plan by offensive coordinator Geep Chryst was effective. And Kaepernick, now 5-0 in Monday night games, rushed five times for 43 yards.
Defensively, the 49ers held Adrian Peterson to under 40 yards – led by safety Antoine Bethea. NaVorro Bowman and rookie Jaquiski Tartt -- and picked off Teddy Bridgewater (Tramaine Brock) in the fourth quarter to set up a Phil Dawson field goal for the final margin of victory.
The 49ers lost running back Reggie Bush early in the game to a leg injury, and his status for this Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh is in doubt.
All doubts, however, have been erased about Hyde’s potential to lead the 49ers running game in 2015.