Recent History Repeats Itself as Niners Best Packers Again; Green Bay Drops Opener 34-28
Looking Pack: Week One
Within the last 365 days, the Alex Smith-led Niners rolled over the Packers in last season’s opener. In January, Colin Kaepernick piloted San Francisco to a staggering 579 yards of total offense in lopsided postseason affair. Sunday marked the third meeting between Green Bay and San Francisco in a calendar year’s time. While many elements of the game were different and the game was kept much closer, one major factor remained consistent in all three meetings: the winning team.
The Packers had the last eight months to prepare to begin this season where last season ended. Steps were taken to prevent the 49ers from repeating its 323 rushing yard performance of that fateful night of January 12—going so far as to employ two quarterbacks cut by San Francisco this preseason, at least in part, to get a better handle of the team’s read option that made the Packers look foolish in the playoff loss. To Green Bay’s credit, those adjustments worked—limiting the defending NFC champs to a respectable 90 rushing yards on the day (and just 16 in the first half). However, Kaepernick’s arm and the dominance of the newest Niners wideout proved too much for the Pack in Green Bay’s 34-28 week one loss.
After exchanging stalled drives to open the game, San Fran struck first, as Kaepernick hooked up with tight end Vernon Davis for an early touchdown. Green Bay answered right back though, as a pair of Aaron Rodgers 31-yard completions (to Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy, respectively) set up a five-yard Rodgers to Randall Cobb touchdown strike. A series of Packers miscues killed the team’s momentum and unknotted the 7-7 tie. First, rookie running back Eddie Lacy coughed up the ball on the Green Bay 14-yard line. Subsequently, Clay Matthews earned a personal foul after he launched himself at Kaepernick out of bounds after a failed third down conversion. A 49ers penalty in the resulting skirmish incorrectly resulted in a repeat of third and six (instead of fourth and two), in which Kaepernick connected with Anquan Boldin for a touchdown.
Yet officiating oversights weren’t the only reason Green Bay scuffled Sunday. Rodgers—who had an otherwise great day to the tune of 333 yards and three touchdowns through the air—threw an interception on the next drive on a well-thrown ball Jermichael Finley simply dropped. Finley made up for it later with touchdown grab to tie things up 14-14 at the half.
In the opening moments of the second half, San Francisco exploited a Packers secondary that was unable to handle Boldin, keying on him in a drive that ultimately culminated in another Davis touchdown. Together, Boldin and Davis accounted for 19 of Kaepernick’s 27 completions, 308 of his 412 passing yards and all three of his touchdown passes. On the other side of the ball, Nelson (who caught an eight-yard touchdown to bring the game to a 21-21 tie) and Cobb each had 100-yard receiving days. Costly drop aside, Finley finished with a decent 56 yards on five grabs. James Jones had a disappointing start to the season, finishing without a catch and being targeted just twice (one drop) on the day.
Though Green Bay used a second round pick to address the issue, the lack of a viable run game remained, as the Packers combined for a meager 63 yards on the ground. Lacy had a touchdown but managed just 14 rushing yards and a sub-three-yard average, leading Green Bay to quickly abandon the run and, in doing so, allow the time of possession scales to tip San Francisco’s way at a 39-minute to 21-minute ratio.
Green Bay kept things closer this time around, but San Francisco’s at-will exploitation of the Packers secondary, lack of turnovers and predominately great starting field position ensured that recent history would repeat itself for a third time straight. Hopefully the next time around (perhaps the playoffs?), Green Bay will finally have figured out the formula to put an end to this vicious cycle.
Player Of The Game (Offense) – Aaron Rodgers
It’s tough to give it to anyone else when the arm of Rodgers kept the game within reach until the final whistle.
Player Of The Game (Defense/Special Teams) – Clay MatthewsBeyond his costly late hit, Matthews registered eight tackles and one of Green Bay’s two sacks. Brad Jones (10), Sam Shields (nine) and A.J. Hawk (nine) each had more tackles than the Claymaker, but most of those were the result of chasing Boldin and Davis after long gains.
Up next: Hosting Washington [Outdated Racist Term]s at noon on Sunday, September 15.