The San Francisco 49ers faced a lot of questions this offseason, and Monday's 20-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings started getting us a little bit closer to answering some of those questions. It is only one game, but it was an important step in the right direction.
There is plenty to discuss about Carlos Hyde, NaVorro Bowman and and so forth, but I thought we could start with the coaching staff. The offseason from hell got started with the decision to replace Jim Harbaugh with Jim Tomsula. Geep Chryst and Eric Mangini replaced Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, as the coaching staff got a significant makeover. The biggest question right out of the gate was what this group would do compared to the successes we saw under Jim Harbaugh.
After one game, I am optimistic. It was only one game, so I will try not to get too far ahead of myself, but the coaching staff impressed me. We saw creative play-calling on both sides of the ball, improved clock management, and a strong first effort.
Jim Tomsula: Geep Chryst shortened up the play-calls, but Tomsula would seem to deserve a ton of credit for forcing serious change on the 49ers offense. After years of delay of game penalties and annoying timeout usage, Monday brought considerable improvement. The team was generally quick out of the huddle, and did not use their first timeout until late in the second quarter. That seems basic, but 49ers fans know how big it is.
Geep Chryst: The 49ers ran at will on the Vikings. The unit started primarily rushing to the left, but as the right side gelled, the 49ers found success running right. Colin Kaepernick has had a lot of success in the past rolling to his right, and we saw the offensive coaching staff mix it in. They gave him some short work, but for the most part went crazy with Hyde. The zone read work is right in his wheelhouse, and they took advantage of it. I don't know how the next 15 games will go for the offensive line, but clearly the coaching staff did something right for Week 1.
Eric Mangini: The Mangenius was on display Monday night. He brought his blitzing schemes as needed, and they did a great job at important moments. There were periods where Teddy Bridgewater had a lot of time in the pocket, but it seemed more on the 49ers own schedule. When the 49ers brought a blitzer, they did some damage. Bridgewater settled down a bit later in the game, but by then it was too late.
The coaching staff will face new challenges each week. It starts this week against a Pittsburgh Steelers squad that has problems in the secondary, and strengths in the passing game. The 49ers ran over the Vikings in Week 1, but I am curious if we see the passing game open up a bit more. The Steelers secondary was atrocious this past week, and if the 49ers offensive line can build on the first game, it could open the door for Kap to do some damage.