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49ers vs. Packers: The Aftermath

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49ers vs. Packers: The Aftermath

The Green Bay Packers dropped their season opener 30-22 to the San Francisco 49ers.

Efficiency

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.

Tough Game

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 maxginsberg@yahoo.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremy's picture

"the defense wasn't prepared"
Nor have they been in recent memory. If the players can not remember the scheme, it's time change something.

Lynn Dickey 12's picture

The defense keeps looking like the 2009 version that Kurt Warner shot up in the playoffs. I just can't stand the finger pointing in the secondary after each big play. My hopes for Shields to return to his 2010 form are fading fast.

Still, my hat is off to Jarrett Bush who just finds a way to stay on the field. Don't get me wrong, I wish he WASN'T on the field...but I am as impressed with JB's professional attitude and ability to maximize his contributions given his skill set as I am disappointed with Shields' continued failure to improve.

Marshall will be tough for Tramon to handle on Thursday...just as he was with the Dolphins in 2010.

Mr.Bigg's picture

I was watching The steelers last night and their defense looked out of place and confused and not prepared at times too. Sometimes things happen. One game is not a trend. I believe it takes 3 games to make a trend.

By the way- I collect antique trends and in November I am speaking at the trend conference in Painesville Ohio..

packsmack25's picture

Difference is, they were playing a QB that should confuse you. Alex Smith should not.

ppabich's picture

Why shouldn't Alex Smith confuse a defense. He was sharp, made good reads and delivered the ball to the right guy almost every time. He's 28 now, in the middle of his prime. And while he's no future HOFer, clearly he's a competent QB. He doesn't have the physical tools of Rodgers, but Smith had to come into the league, start too soon, and have new OCs every single season until this year.

Alex Smith might seem like a bust based on his career, but he's a top half QB in the league right now, and that's all that matters.

PackersRS's picture

Alex Smith was throwing to open receivers. He wasn't forced to make more than 2 reads in a single play. He wasn't looking over defenders, he wasn't pump-faking, he wasn't changing routes (he did change plays, but if I had to guess it would be from play A - pass to play B - run and vice-versa. Kill kill kill).

SF's playcalling was great, GB's playcalling was terrible and GB's defensive efforts, particularly the coverage, was abysmal.

packsmack25's picture

Alex Smith is not Peyton Manning. Manning is notorious for his presnap reads and in-game adjustments. Thus, Pittsburgh had to guess and adjust a lot. Smith was just snapping the ball and shoving passes wherever he wanted while they looked completely lost. Big difference.

Bohj's picture

Youre missing a good point here though. The niners ran out of passing formations and passed out of running formations. Raji was correct. They were not prepared properly. Niners called an amazing game. And Alex executed well enough. When the run game is working, there will be open receivers.

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

Cole...astute observation. On their touchdown drive the Packers created mismatches (Cobb out of backfield) and took short to intermediate gains either by route design or by relying on Y.A.C. This is the essence of "West Coast" offensive football. That is what the 49ers were giving the Packers and that is what they took on that drive. McCarthy went away from that philosophy. As you pointed out, he switched to that mind-set in 2010 right around the New England game. It carried in to the playoffs as well. Were the vertical routes still in the playbook? Yes. But those deep routes opened up as a result of the horizontal and vertical stretches used in consort. The deep game opened up as a result of his willingness to attack width wise as well as length wise, short and deep. Unless the staff recognizes the value of stretching the defense on multiple planes, the offense will struggle to score points consistently.

Replacement refs come cheap's picture

+1 to both of you. MM must have been one of those kids who, when handed the toy where you have to put the wooden pegs into the block, attempted to put the square peg into the round hole. He forced the offense to run the ball like a kid being forced to eat broccoli, setting up 3rd and long after 3rd and long.
+100% on Randle f'ing Cobb, he was braking ankles, and laying down quicksand on those 49er defenders and that was a thing of beauty.

I think there is a good chance Jay cutler will be hanging by his panties from the Lambeau flag pole come Thursday night and this will all be forgotten. We all know its how you end the season not how you start it, and losing out on home field at Lambeau in January probably is a good thing with our Run game.

TUNDRAVISION's picture

of the day.

Adam Rank NFL.com

Green Bay hasn't learned from last season's shortcomings
Disappointing is a rather strong word for the Packers' performance, considering they lost by eight points to one of the favorites in the NFC. But what should trouble Green Bay fans is that the team didn't seem to really learn from last year's mistakes.

The Packers did a pretty good job during the offseason of brushing off their playoff loss to the New York Giants, saying it was a one-week thing and promising they would be more focused in 2012. So how did they respond? Aaron Rodgers made a bet with the guys from Boyz II Men that he would wear an Alex Smith jersey if the Packers lost. I mean, I like the swagger, and these guys should have some fun out there, but the scarlet jersey on Rodgers' back this week should be seen as a giant red flag.

CanadianPackersFan's picture

Well said think this sums up things quite nicely- Aaron will be better but team needs to have more possesin time..

Replacement refs come cheap's picture

Rumormill: Packers trade Rodgers and 3 first round picks to the 49ers for Alex Smith after Smiths HOF performance deflating the Packer D with a Jaw Dropping 200 yards through the air.

TUNDRAVISION's picture

reality check....packers defense was giving big holes to run through....hello...wakeup this is not some walter peyton or emmit smith running team that beat our butts. any team can run on the packers.....then talk about the scared packers secondary.....afraid randy moss or salsa guy in ny will torch them....well?

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