Given the turnover and turmoil of the offseason, the San Francisco 49ers were supposed to be downright awful this season. Mediocre at best.
Well, if Monday night was any indication, the prognosticators were wrong.
The 49ers bullied the Minnesota Vikings all night, rushing for 230 yards – while limiting the Vikings to 71 – in a 20-3 win that was credited to Jim Tomsula but felt very Jim Harbaugh.
What should we make of the 49ers now?
According to Ray Ratto, not much – at least not yet.
“Everything about Week 1 is about small sample size,” the CSN Bay Area columnist said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The 49ers’ defense looked very good because they managed to do the thing that smart teams do when confronted by a largely one-dimensional team, which is take away the thing they do best and make them beat them with the thing they do second best. The thing the Vikings do best is run Adrian Peterson. The thing they do second best is with Teddy Bridgewater. So they basically decided that Adrian Peterson would not be a factor.”
Peterson had 10 rushes for 31 yards and three catches for 21 yards.
“Now, the Vikings helped by sort of giving into the notion that Bridgewater is the future, but he’s not the future yet – which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but just trust me,” Ratto said. “He’s got stuff to learn – like Cam Newton had stuff to learn, like Robert Griffin has stuff to learn, like Colin Kaepernick has stuff to learn. The 49ers just played the percentages, which is we know what Adrian Peterson can do to us. We’re going to make him inert. They did. The answer to your question is the 49ers looked good and smart, but I don’t know f they looked good enough and smart enough to win in Pittsburgh on Sunday – and Minnesota looked awful.”
It’s odd. Bridgewater looked dazed and confused at times but didn’t have awful numbers. He finished 23-of-32 for 231 yards and an interception. He also had good mobility in the pocket, keeping plays alive and rushing three times for 16 yards.
“I think the one thing about football that separates it from baseball, which is very much a numbers-dominated sport, is that you can watch it and get a feel for the truth and then find the numbers that will back up what you’re looking for,” Ratto said. “And last night, Bridgewater had decent raw numbers, but he was also sacked five times. He looked uncertain in the pocket. Eric Mangini, who has always loved heavy blitz packages, basically made him very uncomfortable. So last night for the 49ers was really a system win – not a win of individual players, despite the fact that Carlos Hyde was very good. I just think that he ran into superior coaching that had months to prepare for him, and I think young quarterbacks tend to become victims today. If you give anybody who’s a good defensive coordinator time to prepare for a guy, he’ll figure out a way to stop him – and that’s what Mangingi did last night.”
The 49ers (1-0) face the Steelers (1-0) in Pittsburgh this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.