Well, that certainly was embarrassing.
The Vikings won the coin toss and deferred on the road. That’s the NFL version of taking a stick, drawing a line in the sand and daring the bully to cross it.
The 49ers not only crossed that line, they lunged over it and punched Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s vaunted defense right square in the nose over and over again en route to a 20-3 win at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers opened with a 9-yard run to the left. In their first five snaps, they had three more runs of 8 yards as the Vikings resembled the 2014 team that never could stop the run en route to finishing 25th in run defense.
When the game ended, the Vikings had been smashed with eight runs of 10 yards or more. The 49ers racked up 230 yards on 39 carries for a 5.9-yard average. Carlos Hyde, who has stepped in for the departed Frank Gore, ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries (6.5). Hyde had relatively easy TD runs of 10 and 17 yards.
“They were obviously the more physical team,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “There’s no other way to slice it. It was embarrassing. They were lining up and pretty much doing the same thing. We just couldn’t stop it. We got humbled and hopefully that’s the best thing to happen.”
The domination up front got worse as the game wore on and the Vikings’ defense wore out. Right before halftime, the 49ers hammered out a 93-yard drive with runs of 8, 10, 12, 7 and 10 yards for the touchdown.
“They were much more physical than we were,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “That’s more of [the kind of] the team that I would like to be like. … Everybody has been talking about us for 11 months and maybe we thought we were a little bit better than what we were.”
Defensive end Everson Griffen said everything is “fixable,” but the Vikings clearly put on tape that they can be pushed around by a team with a strong offensive line and a powerful runner. They play an 0-1 Lions team on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.
“We got to be physical, we got to get off blocks, we got to do a lot of things better than we did tonight,” Griffen said. “We played terrible, man. I don’t know what else to say. We didn’t play like ourselves. We’re really not that good. We thought we were better than we are. We got to figure it out.”