SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Adrian Peterson's long-awaited return to the NFL came Monday night, 53 weeks after he last suited up for the Minnesota Vikings. His first big day back with the team will have to wait at least another week.
Peterson carried just 10 times for 31 yards in the Vikings' 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, as a grinding 49ers offense kept the Vikings off the field and Minnesota's makeshift offensive line created little room for Peterson to run.
"It felt good to get out there, play some football, take some hits," Peterson said. "But [it was] definitely embarrassing to perform the way we did."
Peterson, 30, didn't touch the ball until the second drive of the game, as the Vikings threw on their first three plays.
Asked whether he thought he'd get the ball on the first series, Peterson said, "I don't know. I assumed at least one carry.
"I don't question Coach Turner," he said, referring to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. "He's been doing it for a long time. I trust him. I got the ball a couple of times in the second series. It is what it is."
Peterson carried the ball just four times for 14 yards in the first half, sitting out the final two series of the second quarter as Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata spelled him. While Peterson posted a 9-yard run on the Vikings' first series in the third quarter, it turned out to be his longest of the night.
Peterson's 31 yards tied for the eighth fewest of his career.
It was the fourth time Peterson found little success against the 49ers, who had held him to 3 yards per carry in three meetings before Monday. That yards-per-carry average was the lowest Peterson had posted against any team in his career, and his numbers Monday night didn't do much to help his case.
Peterson was almost more effective as a wide receiver than he was as a ball carrier; he caught three passes for 21 yards, gaining 17 yards on one first-half reception. The Vikings wanted to get Peterson more involved in their passing game, both to create some explosive plays for him and to limit his exposure to contact. He seemed to be on board with the plan Monday night.
"I feel like I left one out there on a screen," Peterson said. "But it felt good catching the ball and not dodging guys immediately."
Peterson will play his first home game in 21 months Sunday, when the Vikings face the Detroit Lions in their home opener. While the Lions lost Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the offseason, they had the league's top-ranked run defense last year and added Haloti Ngata to the group. San Diego needed 30 carries to gain 95 yards against the Lions on Sunday.
The Vikings will have to do more for Peterson to get going at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
"He looked all right to me," coach Mike Zimmer said after Monday's game. "He didn't have many holes [to run through]."