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49ers' frenzied defense puts the squeeze on Vikings

Adrian Peterson had little room to run, finishing with 31 yards on 10 carries against the aggressive 49ers. AP Photo/Tony Avelar

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- NaVorro Bowman campaigned publicly at the end of last season for Vic Fangio to be retained in the wake of Jim Harbaugh’s departure.

Either as the San Francisco 49ers head coach or to return as their defensive coordinator.

Neither happened. And after the performance Bowman and the 49ers defense put on Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings in a 20-3 thumping, Bowman is just fine with Fangio’s replacement in Eric Mangini.

"Eric’s more of a variety-type of coach," Bowman said. "He wants the offense to have to defend us, (rather) than us defend the offense."

The Rebirth of Mangenius?

In any event, the Vikings had no answer for Mangini’s wildly unpredictable schemes, blitz-heavy packages that would have had the base-heavy Fangio squirming.

The 49ers racked up five sacks by five different players -- Bowman, Antoine Bethea, Jaquiski Tartt, Aaron Lynch and Glenn Dorsey. Yes, three of those came from safeties. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the 49ers had nine sacks via the blitz all of last season.

"It’s like a dream come true," rookie safety Tartt said. "I get to blitz, I get to play the tight end, I do whatever."

Besides harassing Teddy Bridgewater with eight hits and 79.0 passer rating on 23 of 32 passing for 231 yards and an interception by Tramaine Brock, the 49ers limited three-time All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, playing for the first time since the 2014 opener, to 31 yards rushing on 10 carries.

"Coming into this game, we knew that San Fran was a tough, physical team," Bridgewater said. "And like I said, we were confident coming into this game; we just didn’t execute well."

A swarming defense had more than a little something to do with that, though.

From series to series, the blitzing seemed to unnerve Bridgewater, who did not start to pick up the open spots on the field until late in the game, after it was too late for the Vikings.

"We were just all hustling to the ball," said Lynch, who had three tackles, two for a loss, including his 14-yard sack.

"If you get the whole defense rushing to the ball, nobody can really do anything, because there’s always somebody hitting you. There’s always somebody making you think about what you have to do. We just kept coming at (Bridgewater) and it worked out to our benefit."

If was a battle of Mangini against Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who seemed to use Peterson more as a decoy in the early going, Mangini won by TKO.

"I felt like it was a well-called game," said rookie coach Jim Tomsula. "It was a good gameplan, and we’re happy about that. We’ve still got a lot of work to do."

The Vikings got little work accomplished in the first half as the 49ers limited them to 113 yards of offense before halftime.

Minnesota also had a mere 41 yards of offense in the fourth quarter, which opened with the 49ers holding a 10-0 lead.

"He dialed it up today," 49ers nose tackle Ian Williams said of Mangini. "He was hitting on all of his calls and we were able to go out there and execute like he wanted."