SAN FRANCISCO: Australian rugby league convert Jarryd Hayne endured a difficult debut for the San Francisco 49ers before the National Football League giants overpowered the Minnesota Vikings 20-3 on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
Hayne, who only switched sports earlier this year, was a surprise inclusion in San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula’s matchday squad at the Levi’s Stadium for the long-awaited season-opener.
But the 27-year-old’s dream debut turned into a nightmare with his very first touch in the second quarter, when he fumbled what should have been a straightforward punt return near the 43-yard line to concede a turnover.
Hayne was only a fleeting presence thereafter, upstaged by fellow running back Carlos Hyde, who rushed for two touchdowns to finish with 168 yards from 26 carries. Hayne finished with 13 yards from four carries.
Veteran 49ers kicker Phil Daw¬son—the second oldest player in the league at 40 years old —added the rest of San Francisco’s points with the boot, including two field goals.
Minnesota’s lone score came through a Blair Walsh field goal in the fourth quarter from 37 yards.
It was a disappointing night for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, anxious to make a big impression on his return to the game after missing most of last season through suspension for beating his son with a tree branch.
In the earlier game on Monday, the Atlanta Falcons held on to clinch a thrilling 26-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in a tense battle at the Georgia Dome.
Falcons receiver Julio Jones caught two touchdown passes while veteran kicker Matt Bryant slotted four field goals as Atlanta withstood a furious second half Eagles onslaught to clinch a first win for new coach Dan Quinn.
“What an awesome finish,” Quinn said. “We thought it would come down to the finish, just like it did.”