The San Francisco 49ers used three touchdowns and 412 yards passing from quarterback Colin Kaepernick to beat the Green Bay Packers by a final of 34-28 Sunday in San Francisco. The Packers held a fourth-quarter lead against the defending NFC champions but couldn’t get a defensive stop late. Green Bay has now started each of the last two seasons with Week 1 losses to the 49ers.
It was over when…
When 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, who terrorized the Packers secondary from start to finish, caught his 13th and most important pass on a fourth-down play with under three minutes remaining. San Francisco milked away most of the remaining clock and held on for a six-point win.
- Jordy Nelson: Despite doubts that he would be ready for Week 1 after undergoing knee surgery during training camp, Nelson showed up in a big way against the 49ers secondary. He caught seven passes for a team-high 130 yards. His eight-yard touchdown tied the game at 21 in the third, and each of his 30-plus yard receptions set up Packers scores. It was an impressive display from a player whose status was in doubt for most of August.
- Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, B.J. Raji, etc.: The Packers front seven was a dominant unit against the run for most of the afternoon. While Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and the rest of the Green Bay linebackers played a part, the beef along the defensive line did a lot of the heavy lifting. Pickett was especially disruptive against the run, and the 49ers simply couldn’t move Jolly or Raji. The defense gave up nearly 500 yards, but it wasn’t because of the efforts of the defensive line.
- Randall Cobb: Cobb is tough as nails, and he proved it again Sunday. A couple of his seven catches included nasty collisions post-reception, and he even did some interior running out of the Cobra formation. Overall, he accounted for 114 yards on offense (108 receiving) and 16 on one punt return. He also delivered the offense’s first score of the season. Just another day at the office for Cobb.
Over two career starts against the Packers, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has accounted for 878 yards (675 passing, 203 rushing) and seven touchdowns. His first career 300- and 400-yard game came Sunday, and his passer rating of 129.1 was the second highest of his career…Aaron Rodgers was effective for most of the afternoon, throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns. His lone interception was a result of Jermichael Finley’s drop…The Packers rushed for 63 yards on 19 attempts, good for an average of 3.3. The offense’s longest run was only seven yards, and rookie Eddie Lacy was only able to manage 41 yards on 14 carries (2.9 yards/carry)…The 49ers ran 17 more plays (75-58) and held the ball for over 17 more minutes (38:35-21:25) than the Packers…Boldin, who the 49ers dealt a sixth-round pick for this offseason, caught 13 passes for 208 yards. Both were the second-most of his career…The Packers had two turnovers, while the 49ers played a turnover-free game…San Francisco was flagged 11 times for 85 yards. Green Bay committed five for 44. Each team allowed two sacks…Kick returner Jeremy Ross averaged just 13.3 yards per return. As a result, the Packers starting field position was almost 17 yards back of San Francisco’s…The Packers had eight tackles for losses, their most since Week 2 of last season (nine vs. Chicago Bears).
– The Packers still have serious question marks on the defensive side of the football. The containment of Kaepernick and the rest of the 49ers running game was a big plus, but it doesn’t matter much when you give up over 400 yards through the air and don’t secure a turnover. Not having Casey Hayward and Morgan Burnett was a big factor, but it’s worth wondering if this defense—as currently constructed—is good enough to survive a gauntlet schedule or make a run through the offense-heavy NFC during January.
– You do have to give Dom Capers credit for how he handled the running aspect of Colin Kaepernick. By my count, the read option accounted for just 12 yards on seven tries. The Packers also pass-rushed with pocket containment in mind, and the heavy zone usage was a way to keep all eyes on the quarterback. But this has never been a good zone coverage team, and not having a steady pass rush only added to the Kaepernick passing parade.
– The running game worked for one drive. On Green Bay’s go-ahead march, Lacy ran for 26 yards on five carries. He had just 15 on nine over the Packers’ 12 other drives. The 49ers make running the football hard for everyone, but it appears Mike McCarthy’s dedication improving the running game will be more difficult than originally believed. Of course, losing your starting left tackle and running back in training camp doesn’t help.
– The Packers were behind the eight ball all night in terms of field position, which made things even more strenuous on the offense. Most of that blame is on the return game. Ross was especially poor returning kicks. Add in that Green Bay didn’t cause a turnover, and it’s even more impressive that the Packers were able to conjure up four touchdown drives against the 49ers defense.
– Interesting dynamic: Mike McCarthy benched Eddie Lacy following his first-half fumble, but feed the football to Jermichael Finley after his interception-inducing drop. Both players redeemed themselves with touchdowns, but it was fascinating to see how McCarthy handled each situation.
–The Packers welcome Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins to Lambeau Field for the home opener next Sunday. Green Bay hasn’t started a season 0-2 since McCarthy first season as head coach in 2006.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.