1. Run 'D' looks awful(ly) familiar
The inability to consistently stop the run continues to be the biggest weakness that confounds coach Mike Zimmer 17 games into his head coaching career. After the Vikings won the coin toss and deferred – a show of confidence in the defense on the road — the 49ers opened with runs of 9, 8, 8 and 8 yards in their first five snaps. A holding call negating a 10-yard run to the Vikings' 3-yard line prevented what probably would have been a touchdown drive. The 49ers' offensive line dominated the Vikings' defensive front, pounding out four runs of at least 10 yards in the first half alone. On a 93-yard touchdown drive near the end of the half, the 49ers had runs of 8, 10, 12, 7 and a 10-yard touchdown by Carlos Hyde. A year ago, the Vikings ranked 25th against the run (121.4). The 49ers ranked fourth in rushing (136.0). For the game, the Vikings gave up eight runs of at least 10 yards while surrendering 230 yards rushing on 39 carries (5.9). "They were obviously the more physical team," Vikings 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." Defensive end Everson Griffen added: "We got to be physical, we got to get off blocks, we got to do a lot of things better than we did. 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."
2. So much for Bridgewater's fast starts
In an interview with the Star Tribune last week, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was asked to name the one thing in which he has improved on the most. "I'm still working on it, but starting fast," he said. "We take pride in being an up-tempo team from the start. And it starts in practice. Coach [Norv] Turner always comes to me and tells me, 'Let's start fast today.' That's something we've been working extremely hard on and it's been showing. We hope it continues over to the regular season." Unfortunately for the Vikings, it didn't. The offense not only went three-and-out on its first possession, Bridgewater threw three incompletions and was knocked down twice. At the end of the first quarter, Bridgewater was 2 for 6 for 21 yards. Adrian Peterson had seven yards on three carries. The Vikings had 19 yards and one first down at that point. Asked if this was the most out of sorts he's seen Bridgewater in a game, tight end Kyle Rudolph said, "Teddy is a great player. That wasn't us as a team out there. So to single out Teddy is not fair. It wasn't us as an offense. But the good news is we have a division game in six games. It's just one game. It's good for us to maybe be humbled a little bit with all the expectations that people had for us."
3. Pass protection becomes an issue
Bridgewater opened Monday's game with the most nervous-looking half of his young NFL career. Of course, it didn't help that he was knocked down three times in the first two series. By halftime, he had been pressured twice more, hit hard again and sacked twice, including once while scrambling and losing his balance after running into rookie right tackle T.J. Clemmings. The 49ers took advantage of a Vikings' offensive line missing two of its regular starters, center John Sullivan and right tackle Phil Loadholt. Peterson also continued to struggle as a pass protector, whiffing on one front-side edge rush that led to a first-half knockdown. The punishment continued into the first series of the second half when a safety blitz dropped Bridgewater for another sack. Said left guard Brandon Fusco: "We just got out-physicaled and out-played. We just didn't execute at all. We came out flat and didn't get anything going. No momentum or anything. Everything that we studied on film, it showed up on the field. It wasn't anything new. We just didn't execute."
4. Peterson shows some rust
The 49ers' game plan didn't include committing extra defenders near the line of scrimmage to stop Peterson, who was playing in his first game in more than a year. Peterson's first carry was a 4-yard gain with seven defenders in the box. He had another first-half carry that went only 2 yards with seven defenders in the box. Peterson finished the first half with only 14 yards on four carries. Backup Jerick McKinnon entered the game on the fifth series and had a bigger impact right away. He had a 15-yard burst up the middle against a favorable count of defenders in the box and finished the first half with 20 yards on just three carries. Peterson stayed in on third downs and passing situations. He looked lost as a pass protector, but did have one catch that took five defenders to bring him down after a 17-yard gain. Peterson finished with only 31 yards rushing on 10 carries and three catches for 21 yards. "Being out there offensively, this is not us," Peterson said. Asked if he felt rusty, Peterson said, "Not really. I did feel hesitant a couple of times coming out of the shotgun. Outside of that, I felt pretty good. A couple of runs I had, I felt I could have done a little better and a couple of them were pretty decent. I feel like I felt good. But I really couldn't get into a rhythm. Offensively, we really couldn't keep the drives going."
5. Deep-ball robbery
As shaky as Bridgewater was in the first half, there was one tremendous deep ball that he launched that should have been a 46-yard touchdown or a pass interference penalty on safety Antoine Bethea. Receiver Mike Wallace, in his first game as the Vikings' new deep threat, had Bethea beat by half a step early in the second quarter. Bridgewater finally had enough time to let the ball fly. The ball traveled over 50 yards in the air and was place perfectly to Wallace about eight yards deep in the end zone. Bethea, however, got away with knocking one of Wallace's arms down before the ball arrived. Wallace finished with a game-high six catches for 63 yards. Asked if he was interfered with in the end zone, he said, "Yeah, but that's not the thing that made us lose the game. It could have went either way. It's one play. Bethea is a veteran player. He made a great play. I don't cry about it. If they don't call it, they don't call it. I don't expect referees to make calls for us to win a football game."