The Green Bay Packers dropped their season opener 30-22 to the San Francisco 49ers.
It’s usually a word that describes the reigning MVP, but on Sunday it was the opposing quarterback who displayed poise and efficiency. On the ground and through the air, Alex Smith and the 49ers offense moved up and down the field. Smith finished the day completing 20-of-26 passes for 211 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Overall, there’s no question who the better signal caller is, but on this particular day, Alex Smith got the best of Aaron Rodgers.
Same As It Ever Was
The Packers defense looked a lot like it did most of last season. Despite being 200 regular-season games old, Charles Woodson’s still got it. Clay Matthews chipped in a couple sacks and regularly applied pressure. As a whole, the group came up with a few stops, but ultimately was unable to stop the run and play at a level befitting of a championship-caliber team.
It’s easy to blame the miscommunications and mishaps on the number of new faces, and the growing pains of this young unit are going to be tough to endure as long as they last. The only thing that stood out as different from last season was the fact that the offense wasn’t there to bail them out.
Turnovers And Momentum
The lone turnover in Sunday’s game was Aaron Rodgers’ pick with just under 9:00 minutes to play in the game. Rodgers didn’t appear to see NaVorro Bowman slip back into coverage before the All Pro linebacker pulled down the interception. And on the very next play, 49ers running back Frank Gore rushed to his right, scampering 23-yards into the end zone.
Normally, a costly interception would deflate a team and kill any chance of a comeback, but on this particular Sunday, circumstances proved to be different. The turnover actually woke up the Packers offense as Rodgers and company marched down the field with surgeon-like precision on the ensuing drive.
Perhaps needing a kick in the pants, the turnover seemed to spark a momentum shift in favor of the team who committed the error. I’m sure QB1 was unhappy with the pick, but in some cases, mistakes can turn into badly needed wake-up calls.
A New Dimension
Opponents of the Green Bay Packers will have yet another weapon to fear in Mike McCarthy’s offense: wide receiver Randall Cobb. The second-year player out of Kentucky lined up all over the formation on Sunday to rack up a game-high 9 catches for 77 yards.
Clearly, McCarthy plans to involve Cobb more into the offense this year, and if Sunday was any indication, the young man has a bright future in Green Bay. Add in his 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, and I think it’s safe to say he’s a playmaker.
If Cobb continues to develop when given opportunities, one has to wonder if the Packers will consider letting Greg Jennings walk at season’s end. At the very least, Cobb’s play on Sunday gave the Packers a little leverage in Jennings’ contract negotiations.
Say what you want about the replacement referees, but the Packers were simply outplayed and outcoached. After the game, defensive lineman B.J. Raji told reporters that the defense wasn’t prepared for what the 49ers offense brought on Sunday.
Ultimately, the 49ers were the better team, and the better team won. Looking at a short week of practice, attention immediately shifts to the Bears who come into Lambeau this Thursday to open up division play. As always, the border-rivalry should be a heck of a game.
Max Ginsberg is a regular contributor at CheeseheadTV, blogs at PurplePantsGreenJersey.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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