49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, right, and cornerback Tramaine Brock tackle Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson (12) during the second half of game on Monday. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

49ers’ D Makes Great First Impression

OK, 49ers’ Faithful, it’s safe to open your eyes now.

Your team might not be as bad as many predicted, although at 7-9, Balls was more optimistic about its record than most.

Everybody wanted to know what a Jim Tomsula-coached team would be like in his first season. In a thorough 20-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium on Monday night, it gave us a hint of what that could be. It will be physical. It will be aggressive. And it will be that way at both sides of the ball from start to finish.

Nobody did it better than strong safety Antoine Bethea, who was a beast with eight tackles and one sack.

“We wanted to set the tone. We did that tonight,” Bethea told Balls. “You know, getting after the quarterback and flying to the ball.”

Adrian Peterson was never a factor. The Vikings’ star touched the ball only six times in the first half, in which the Vikings gained 113 yards, 27 of them on a gimme pass on the final play. He finished with 31 yards on 10 carries.

“The plan was to stop A.P., stop the run game and make them one-dimensional,” Bethea said. “Then we wanted to put pressure on the quarterback and make some plays.”
The Vikings aren’t playoff caliber, so don’t read too much into the outcome. But for a 49ers’ team that’s eager to put its best foot forward, it’s a heckuva start.

“We wanted to make an impression,” Bethea said. “It was Monday night. It was showtime. Now we’ve got to continue to do that. It’s only Week One.”

MAN DOWN: Well, Reggie Bush almost made it through nine minutes, anyway.
In his 49ers’ debut, Bush was injured on a run up the middle that came up short on third down. The 30-year-old was unable to put weight on his left leg, limped off the field then was transported to the locker room on a cart. He sat out the rest of the game because of a calf problem.

Hey, it could have been worse. Bush could have retired, been arrested or told to give back another trophy.

NOTE TO KAP: If Colin Kaepernick continues to stick his head in the pile, then back-up Blaine Gabbert may as well start to warm up right now.

Vikings safety Harrison Smith knocked the snot out of Kaepernick on a scramble in the first period. The quarterback also dove head first with the ball on two occasions, which made him fair game for defenders.

Pssst … Colin, you might want to master the feet-first slide instead. Could live longer.

LOVE THATT TARTT: Even if 49ers’ rookie Jaquiski Tartt hadn’t sacked the quarterback on a safety blitz in the first quarter, he would have gotten his name in the paper.

Because Balls just likes to say Jaquiski Tartt.

LONG TIME COMIN’: Unbeaten Cal travels to Texas this weekend, a game that its die-hards have waited 11 long years to play.

The teams haven’t met since the 2004 campaign, when Texas politicked its way past Cal in the final regular-season poll. As the Pac-10 runner-up, the Bears had the inside track at a Rose Bowl berth. But Longhorns coach Mack Brown blitzed Associated Press voters with phone calls and emails in a successful attempt to move his team ahead of “less deserving” ones. On the night before bowl bids were extended, the heavily favored Bears didn’t help themselves with a lackluster 26-16 victory over Southern Miss on the road.

Texas gained 23 points on Cal in the AP Poll and 43 more in the Coaches Poll, which gave it a BCS berth by a slim margin. Bears coach Jeff Tedford demanded that the final votes be made public but got nowhere.

If that wasn’t the best Cal team ever, then it certainly had the most talented backfield in school history — quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running backs J.J. Arrington and Marshawn Lynch. Its only loss in conference play was a six-pointer at eventual national champ USC early in the season.

JUST FORGET IT, BABY: So much for that 2-0 start that the Raiders talked about only a few days ago.

The Raiders survived a scare when Derek Carr’s hand injury wasn’t as serious as thought originally, but they might not be as lucky in their secondary.

The concern was that Nate Allen had an ACL tear, which would sideline him for the season. The status of Charles Woodson also was iffy because of a shoulder problem that required an MRI exam. The secondary was leaky with the veteran safeties in tact, and it would becomes a downright sieve without them.

The good news is, George Atkinson is only a phone call away.

AIN’T NO JUSTICE: Slam somebody’s bare head against the ground with two hands and do it on the street, you serve jail time. Do it in an NFL game, you get a hand-slap.

That’s what Cincinnati Bengals’ lunatic Adam “Pacman” Jones did to Raiders’ rookie Amari Cooper on Sunday, but indications are the NFL police will hand down a fine and nothing more.

While we’re at it, let’s call out field judge Doug Rosenbaum. He had the play right in front him yet didn’t have either the vision or guts to throw Jones out of the game. Jones and a Raiders’ player were called for personal fouls on the play, which meant the Bengals didn’t pay a price for the thuggery.

THE LIST: Pacman Jones’ greatest hits:

July 2005: charged with felony vandalism at a strip club.
October 2005: violated probation terms.
March 2006: charged with marijuana possession.
August 2006: arrested for disorderly conduct at a strip club.
February 2007: suspended for one year after he incited a riot that resulted in the shooting of two men.
January 2008: charged with punching a woman in the face at a strip club.
October 2008: suspended for one year for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after he picked a fight with one of his bodyguards.
June 2013: arrested for hitting a women at a bar.
September 2013: arrested for disorderly conduct.

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.

Colin KaepernickNaVorro BowmanOakland RaidersReggie BushSan Francisco 49ers

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