SANTA CLARA, California — Adrian Peterson made his way to the bus when a crowd of cheering Vikings fans stopped him, and he patiently signed a few autographs and posed for a few photos.
He obliged, even on a night when he probably wasn't in much of a mood to do so.
Peterson returned to the field for his first game in more than a year and was limited to 10 carries for 31 yards, outdone by San Francisco's Carlos Hyde as the Minnesota Vikings lost their season opener 20-3 to the 49ers on Monday night.
"This wasn't the way we expected it to go," said Peterson, who missed all but Week 1 last year after going on paid leave and then serving a suspension in the fallout from a child-abuse case against him in Texas. "It will be a much different feel coming in (next week at home). You have to credit those guys on defense. They have good players, and they got the better of us. ... We have to lick our wounds, improve and come back a better team for sure."
Hyde wanted to outplay the better-known No. 28 on the field, Peterson. He did that and more, and the 49ers gave Jim Tomsula a victory in his debut as head coach minus the interim status he had for the final game of 2010.
Hyde carried the offense with 168 yards on the ground and touchdown runs of 17 and 10 yards in his first career start, spinning away from a defender and diving into the end zone untouched on a rare nice play in a first half full of ugly ones.
Hyde had Peterson on the mind.
"That was also in the back of my head, to outdo a guy who's been leading the NFL in rushing. That's tremendous to outdo a guy like that, Adrian Peterson, a great running back," Hyde said. "I used to watch his highlights. To be able to outrush him, that's great."
Hyde's yards were the most by a 49ers running back since Frank Gore's 207 in Week 2 of 2009 against Seattle.
A sloppy first half featured a pair of botched field goals, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater running into his own teammate that led to a 10-yard sack, an 85-yard punt return touchdown called back on penalty, and a fumbled punt — by the former Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne on his first NFL touch.
The 27-year-old rookie lost the fumble on a punt return in the first quarter when he misjudged the ball and had to dive forward to try to field it. He made a 1-yard run in the second quarter and caught a 7-yard pass. He was forced into running back duties as the only active backup after Reggie Bush was lost to a left calf injury with about 6 ½ minutes left in the first quarter.
Peterson, playing for the first time since last season's opener at St. Louis, had just four carries in the first half then doubled that total on the initial series after halftime.
He still hasn't scored a touchdown against San Francisco in four meetings.
49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman had one of five sacks against Bridgewater and also seven tackles in his first game in 20 months following a left knee injury sustained during the NFC championship game loss at Seattle in January 2014 that required surgery.
"What you saw tonight was not a representation of the 2015 Vikings," Bridgewater said. "It's a reality check. Tonight shows us that we're really not near as good as everyone thought we were."
The opening half was extended by a play after Ahmad Brooks' holding penalty on what would have been the last.
Blair Walsh lined up for a 63-yard field goal then the Vikings called timeout and brought back the offensive unit as the 49ers put seven men in the end zone. Bridgewater completed a 27-yard pass to Jarius Wright but was well short.
Tank Carradine was credited with a 10-yard sack after Bridgewater collided with teammate T.J. Clemmings in the second quarter.
"Maybe we're just not ready for prime time yet," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "This performance leads me to believe in that. Everybody's been talking about us for 11 months, and maybe we thought we were a little bit better than what we were."
Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 30 and 25 yards after having his first attempt of the night at 28 yards blocked by Andrew Sendejo before Marcus Sherels returned it 44 yards. But the Vikings had nothing to show for it as Walsh missed wide right on a 44-yarder.
Notes: Bridgewater was 23 of 32 for 231 yards. ... Mike Wallace had six catches for 63 yards for the Vikings. Minnesota had its three-game winning streak against San Francisco snapped.