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After Further Review: Stark Difference on First Downs

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games...

Almost every game, third down conversion rate is a frequent place eyes go to survey the stat sheet.

Sure enough, the category for Monday night's season opener wasn't pretty for the Vikings, who converted 1-of-9 (11 percent) third downs and allowed the 49ers to convert 5-of-12 (42 percent).

Perhaps a bigger problem — and significant contributing factor — were results on first downs.

The 49ers gained a total of 202 of their 395 net yards on 31 first down snaps. San Francisco deeply committed to running the football, opting to open the game with three tight ends, one receiver and one running back, and reaped repeated rewards:

The 49ers gained 9 by sending Carlos Hyde toward the left end on the first snap of the game, which became set the tone for his 168-yard, two-touchdown night.

San Francisco had 136 rushing yards (averaging 6.5 per rush) on first downs and 66 yards on pass plays (including an 8-yard scramble by Colin Kaepernick).

Last season, Vikings opponents gained 4.6 yards per rush on first downs (ranked 18th in the NFL).

Minnesota's offense, meanwhile, had 109 of its 248 net yards on first downs, but only 28 yards on eight rush attempts (3.5 per carry). Four completions out of the 14 passes attempted on first downs accounted for 76 of the net 81 passing yards.

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