SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Adrian Peterson showed flashes of his former MVP self in Monday night's opener. But there weren't nearly enough to save the Minnesota Vikings.
The San Francisco 49ers spoiled Peterson's return with a 20-3 triumph in which Carlos Hyde, not Peterson, was by far the most productive running back on the field at Levi's Stadium.
Peterson left an impression. Just look at the short pass he caught around his own 40-yard line in the second quarter before juking one Niners defender and then carrying three more for about 8 yards before another jumped on his back to bring him down after a gain of 17.
But Peterson's final stat line — 10 carries for 31 yards, plus three catches for 21 yards, no scores — reflected how badly he and the Vikings struggled to get anything going offensively behind an injury-depleted line.
Meanwhile, Hyde ran wild, scoring both San Francisco touchdowns and finishing with 168 yards on 26 carries (plus two catches for 14 yards). After one game, that puts the second-year pro from Ohio State on pace for almost 2,700 rushing yards — beyond the record-shattering goal of 2,500 that Peterson has set for himself publicly.
Peterson, 30, didn't play at all this preseason after missing all but one game in 2014 in the wake of a felony indictment for injuring his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. He pled guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge in November, but the NFL barred him from playing last season.
The Vikings passed all three plays on their opening possession Monday. So, Peterson's first carry in a game since Sept. 7, 2014, came on the first play of the Vikings' second drive. It went for 4 yards. He had four carries for 14 yards and two catches for 19 at halftime.
With hundreds of purple-clad fans amidst the early-arriving crowd, Peterson heard mostly cheers as he emerged from the tunnel, though one man in the crowd yelled "Child beater!" on multiple occasions.
The Vikings named Peterson one of their captains for the game, along with Teddy Bridgewater, Chad Greenway and Everson Griffen.