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What we learned: Carlos Hyde runs all over Vikings

On an opening Monday slate that featured the 2014 Offensive Player of the Year (DeMarco Murray) and the NFL's last 2,000-yard rusher (Adrian Peterson), Carlos Hyde stole the show as the night's most spectacular runner.

Back in early July, our Kevin Patra outlined Hyde's perfect fit for the new stretch-zone scheme implemented by offensive line coach Chris Foerster and former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano. That was on full display in the 49ers' convincing 20-3 victory over the Vikings, as Hyde repeatedly made decisive, sharp cuts to explode through holes in tackle-shedding style.

This brilliant spin move to break a scoreless tie was the highlight of a marquee performance that decorated the box score with 182 total yards and a pair of touchdowns.

After a decade of greatness with Frank Gore, the 49ers' backfield is in fine shape with Hyde as a worthy successor.

Here are five more takeaways from San Francisco's victory:

  1. Look no further than new 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini for the root cause of Teddy Bridgewater's worst performance through 13 career starts. Mangini was in Bridgewater's head all night, dialing up safety blitzes in key situations and taking away his first read. Bridgewater's box score looks innocuous enough, but it doesn't begin to tell the story of his jitters, confusion and poor decision making on third downs. While we're still bullish on Bridgewater's future, this was a rough start to the season.
  1. Outside of a 17-yard catch-and-run in which he carried four 49ers defenders and a Vikings teammate past the first-down marker, Adrian Peterson underwhelmed in his return to action. The game plan surprisingly called for just four Peterson runs in the first half. The 49ers' defensive front also won the battle up front, providing few open creases for Peterson to exploit. Peterson didn't do Bridgewater any favors as an outlet receiver, either, showing poor instincts in finding free space to roam on extended plays.
  1. The 49ers lost No. 2 tailback Reggie Bushto a strained calf, which might have been the reason that preseason sensation Jarryd Hayne was pulled off of punt returns in favor of Bruce Ellington. Although Hayne muffed his first punt-return attempt, his special teams removal might have been a nod to his value as an insurance policy for Hyde.
  1. Even if he wasn't quite the superhero that color commentator Trent Dilfer would lead us to believe, Colin Kaepernick showed tangible improvement as a pocket passer -- specifically in the areas of ball placement and progressions. Kap also delivered a career-best 10 completions on play-action passes. Credit offensive coordinator Geep Chryst with creative formations and play-calling, utilizing multi-tight end sets throughout the game.
  1. If Monday's docket boasted the three favorites for Comeback Player of the Year honors, 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman has the one-week edge over Peterson and Sam Bradford. "You can't say enough about NaVorro Bowman," coach Jim Tomsula said after the game. "What he's overcome, you respect that. He's a great player."
  1. Dan Quinn has something special going on in Atlanta as evidenced by an organically noisy Georgia Dome that was thumping for 60 minutes. This game was an absolute slugfest and the Falcons were the aggressor for a majority of the night. Rookie Vic Beasley impressed early on with a batted pass, but more importantly with the way he fought against the run. Smaller pass rushers are risky, but Beasley was not afraid to take it to All-World left tackle Jason Peters.

The Falcons with a pass rush. Ask Sam Bradford late in the fourth quarter how much he hates it.

  1. Observers of Bradford in the summer noted that his fastball was certainly still there, but the amount of rest and rehabilitation time in between starts -- 694 days -- contributed to a bit of anxiousness that was egregiously visible early on. I won't take back what I said about Bradford being one of the league's most accurate quarterbacks -- a first quarter cannon blast to Josh Huff just ahead of a charging cornerback will help prove my case -- but there is no doubt he will need some time to round his game into form. Also, it is unlikely Chip Kelly wants him throwing 40-plus passes in a game.

After the game, Bradford revealed he underwent precautionary X-rays, but didn't indicate where they were taken on his body. He deflected questions about the procedure, saying "I'm fine."

  1. Don't be shocked if the Kyle Shanahan-head coach buzz begins to build over the next few months (classic Week 1 overreaction, right?). His stock was undeservedly bumped following the debacle in Cleveland, but he will put up monstrous numbers with Matt Ryan/Julio Jones/Roddy White/Tevin Coleman. He also slowed the game perfectly amid an Eagles comeback early in the fourth. It was time taken off the clock that eventually contributed to a win.
  1. Move over, Odell Beckham. Eagles linebacker Kiko Alonsomade the play of the season thus far, palming a Matt Ryan rocket one-handed while falling backwards in the end zone. This play was fantastic from a bird's eye view in the press box, which lent perspective to how open Roddy White was on the play. Alonso's play may get lost in the shuffle considering the Eagles lost.
  1. What an absolutely stunning individual play by Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins on a third-and-1 just before the two-minute warning to give Philadelphia a chance to win the game. The Eagles' secondary was a mix of good and bad on Monday, but the timing on his blitz was pristine and the matchup -- against Jake Matthews -- was no accident.
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