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This was written for www.ninersnation.com
The San Francisco 49ers opened the 2015 season at home with a huge win and a remarkable performance by running back Carlos Hyde. The second year running back rushed for 168 yards on 26 carries. After the game Carlos Hyde tweeted out a thank you to his offensive line.
Yes, this is only one game, but during training camp and the preseason, one of the big question marks about the 49ers was the viability of the offensive line. We have seen a revolving door on the right side of the line from center over. There were late additions to the group, including Jordan Devey and Nick Easton, which didn't do much to quell the fear that the organization was still scrambling for personnel in the 11th hour. Head coach Jim Tomsula had said that they had it all figured out following the final preseason game, but who really believed him? Well, maybe now we can believe, at least a little. Tomsula spoke on the criticism of the OL:

The criticism hasn't come from me. We are not there yet. This is one game in a long season, so we're not there yet by any means. But, I've not defended the offensive line, people have their opinions. Again, I just deal with what we see in practice and the way we work.

The game plan didn't include Hyde being the bell-cow running back from the beginning but when Reggie Bush left the game with a calf strain, all bets were off. Colin Kaepernick had seven rushing attempts, while Jarryd Hayne had four and Bush two. It's not surprising that according to ProFootballFocus Hyde ran mostly to the left where veterans Joe Staley and Alex Boone reside, but the whole line, tight ends and receivers all did their part against the Vikings.
After the game it seemed like all of the doubt surrounding the team has made the group closer. Boone spoke about not being bothered by not having had long term continuity in the OL thus far:

We just go in thinking we're brothers. Everybody's got everybody's back. We have a lot of fun out there and just a lot of smart guys, tough guys, that's what you want in your O-Line. Not pretty, out there mauling people, having fun, getting dirty with it. It was a great day.

Boone on the negative talk about the team and OL:

We enjoy it when you guys talk about us like that. We don't really listen to it but when we hear it, it just kind of makes us laugh and at the end of the day we just go to work. We listen to Jimmy and he says let's just go to work and ignore everybody.

Carlos Hyde spoke in a similar vein about this win:

I think it showed that we blocked out all those distractions. We came together as a group and as a team. A good bond going on in that locker room. A bunch of guys that believe in each other. That's all you need. You get a group like that, you can go out and compete with anybody.

Final stats for the Vikings defense was one sack and 3 QB hits, and according to the game book, Kaepernick only scrambled 5 times. No one is talking Super Bowls, but you have to admit this is a little ray of sunshine after a very stormy offseason.
 


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