Packers 34 Niners 17: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Motivated defense does complete turnaround.

When the 2020 NFL regular season is complete, and all 16 games are tallied up, nobody is going to care that the Green Bay Packers were able to play defending NFC champion San Francisco at a time when the Niners were decimated by injuries. Nor should they. Winning is hard in this league. You take your breaks when they come. The Packers were dealing with an expanding list of injuries and Covid abscences of their own. So no apologies for a dominating 34-17 victory in Santa Clara Thursday night, a game not as close as the final score.

The most significant development of the game was the rejuvenation of the defense. After a lifeless, pathetic performance four days prior against Minnesota, an obviously motivated unit showed they indeed were capable of tackling, forcing turnovers, and making big plays. They likely won't get much credit for it because they were playing against a team that had 8 skill position players missing, including their starting quarterback. But for Packer fans it was exciting nonetheless to see the defense play with fire and tenacity and confidence, in light of serious doubts they were capable of it. Coordinator Mike Pettine took most of the heat, so he deserves kudos for getting this unit to perform with emotion and energy. There will be plenty of time to ponder whether they can do the same against good, healthy teams. For now, it's okay to feel optimistic this defense can play well enough to keep the Green and Gold in the Super Bowl hunt.

 

GAME BALLS

The Entire Defense

I never thought I would wrrite this, but there were actually too many great individual moments on this side of the ball to award game balls individually.   So I'm giving it to the whole squad.   It was all there.   Pass rush, tackling, turnovers, and perhaps most importantly, effort.   Passionate effort.   Where do I begin?   Montravious Adams with an impressive TFL in the first quarter.   Oren Burks with a solid tackle that stopped what looked like a big run for a two yard gain.   The Preston Smith pressure and Raven Greene pick.   Krys Barnes reeling in JaMycal Hasty to hold a promising sweep to a short gain.   Ka'dar Hollman had a nice tackle on a quick pass.   Darnell Savage's aggressive penetration on another sweep results in a TFL.   Zadarious sack and fumble recovery.   Ty Summers with an awesome 4th down hit and stop.

I could go on, but you get the idea.   Solid, timely play across the board.   Oh, if you want to be picky, the secondary did misplay their zone defenses a few times yielding big pass plays.   Don't guess we'll ever get through a complete game without a few of those.   But on the whole, the D checked all the boxes you were looking for.

 

Davante Adams

Another big day for WR17.    Most receivers fall into one of two categories, possession or vertical.   Davante is the rare athlete who is both.   He once again demonstrated the footwork to win quickly off the line to get open for  short third down conversions.   Yet he can also juke and reroute in the open field to get separation.   And then the great hands to finish the catch.   He scorched the Niners secondary for a 36 yard score, and got behind them for other bombs of 49 and 34 yards.   Final line...10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown.   He really should have had a second score, but couldn't keep his  balance and barely stepped out of bounds.    There's a lot of good receivers in the league, but Davante is having a first team, all pro kind of season.

 

The O Line

Reserves or no, the 49ers still put a pretty good defense on the field.    Aaron Rodgers was under a good bit of pressure much of the game.   But by and large the front kept him clean, aldlowing one sack.   When the unit was forced to reshuffle after an injury to right tackle Rick Wagner, they didn't miss a beat with Billy Turner going from left to right tackle,  Elgton Jenkins going from left guard to left tackle, and John Runyan coming in at left guard.   Hopefully David Bakhtiari is close to returning, but this bunch has been flexible and adequate in his abscence.

 

Honorable Mentions

Aaron Rodgers regained his accuracy and command after a very shakey second half against the Vikings.   His final line was an impressive 25 of 31 for 305 yards and 4 touchdowns, with a passer rating of near perfect 147.2.   Aaron Jones ran hard coming back from injury to spark the offense early in the game.   Tyler Ervin held up well with an increased workload.   Marques Valdes Scantling continues to be the ultimate box of chocolates.   You never what you're going to get.   A terrible drop on a wide open third down conversion, or a pair of touchdown catches, including a 52 yard bomb.

 

LAME CALLS

Goal line playcalling

Have to get picky here.   I'll have to go back and check to make sure, but I don't recall the Packers running the ball a single time inside the Niners 5 yard line.   Sure would like to see them pound the ball more at the goal line.   Perhaps the abscences of grinders Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon had something to do with that.

 

Blitzing From Downtown

Pettine loves to call these safety and slot corner blitzes where his man lines up ten yards off the ball and it takes him about an hour to get to the quarterback.   He seldom gets home and it leaves a huge gap in the coverage

 

That Dreaded Three Man Rush

It should have burned them again on a first quarter third and goal pass.   It gave Nick Mullins all day to throw.   The Packers were bailed out when receiver River Cracraft couldn't hold on to the ball in the end zone through the catch.

 

SHORT YARDAGE 

•  My heart stopped when Aaron Jones got up from an aggressive tackle by Fred Warner and started to fight him.   Dude, you're half his size.   We need you too much.   Be a lover, not a fighter.

•  Darnell Savage shouldn't be blamed for dropping what looked like a sure interception in the second quarter.   I believe I saw Krys Barnes inadvertantly knock the ball out of his hands as he rushed by.

•  MVS did a super job of continuing to run his route in the end zone after getting his face mask yanked.   He wound up grabbing his second scoring pass of the night.   The penalty was not called.

•  Did you notice that Aaron Rodgers went clean shaven for this game?   Considering the outcome, he may want to stick with the look.

•  Favorite snapshot of the game:   Rodgers grinning sheepishly as he just barely outran a huge defensive lineman to pick up a first down.

 

THEY SAID IT

Aaron Rodgers (on the 49ers injuries):   "It's not the same football team that we saw last year, but they still have possibly the best middle linebacker in the game and a lot of pride, but we went out and executed the way we expected to."

Matt LaFleur:   "I thought the energy was there.   That was something we were looking for, and I thought all three phases came to play."  (packers.com)

Davante Adams:   "At the end of the day I'll tell you yes, absolutely, I think I'm the best wide receiver in the game, but there's a lot of things that go into me being able to make that statement."  (packers.com)

Zadarious Smith:   "We've got a bunch of young guys and a bunch of new guys on defense, but for the opportunity to come together, man, and keep doing what we're doing on this team, we're going to be a great defensive unit."  (packers.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

4 points

Comments (47)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
badaxed's picture

November 06, 2020 at 06:34 am

49ers receivers were open by 10 yards at times. This is still a soft defense that will be gashed by good healthy team's. Miscommunication is an all the time problem with Pettines defense. I do not see this as being a "Great defensive unit".

9 points
12
3
SterlingSharpe's picture

November 06, 2020 at 06:40 am

This defense does still suck & it starts on the Dline.

4 points
5
1
blacke00's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:00 am

I totally agree

1 points
2
1
jeremyjjbrown's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:37 am

"Great defensive unit"

Yeah, I'd love to have average right now.

6 points
7
1
cpabandit's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:03 am

Backfield still does not know their job, running around like Keystone Cops. A better opponent QB would eat up the Packer defense and slice and dice them, and we've seen that too often. Too many wide open players catching the ball in the middle of the field. CBs have to learn how to avoid too many unnecessary, stupid penalties that keeps opponent's drive alive.

2 points
3
1
SterlingSharpe's picture

November 06, 2020 at 06:48 am

I need injury updates on the guys who left & never returned, especially the knee injuries to Wagner & Dexter.
I was & am VERY disappointed in Dexter not being able to last...what'd he last, 3 carries? This was his chance, after all this time being inactive. After messing up on punt protection a few weeks ago causing a blocked punt.

We needed to keep superstar Aaron Jones fresh, & DW couldn't answer the bell.
Both of those guys got hurt without anyone seeing it. They never stayed down, no camera man showed it.

Anyone know any specifics?
Jaire's bell got rung, we saw that one.

4 points
4
0
dobber's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:25 am

"I was & am VERY disappointed in Dexter not being able to last...what'd he last, 3 carries?"

Would've been his chance and I can't imagine he didn't want the opportunity. I can't fault a guy for a legit contact injury.

7 points
8
1
dobber's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:29 am

Matt LaFleur in two seasons still has not lost consecutive games. When they lose, they look bad, but you have to give him credit for getting his teams to bounce back and not slipping into a funk. Conference road wins are gold and hard to come by, and yes, this is an undermanned team they should beat--but so were the Vikings.

On to Jax on the Tundra...should be a W before a tough road matchup with the Colts.

8 points
9
1
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:21 am

Hey Dobber! I made a comment on Gute's philosophy in the Packers' transplants 204 article. I'd appreciate it if you (and several others on this site who also wonder about philosophy) would go back and read it, and possibly respond.

If you did read it and deemed it drivel, then disregard this comment!

0 points
1
1
HankScorpio's picture

November 06, 2020 at 10:11 am

It is very hard to over-state how impressive ML has been to date. He inherited a team that coming off two straight losing seasons. His GM has been less than impressive in re-stocking the talent, IMO. And yet, ML took the team to the NFC CG in year 1 and looks to be one of the better teams in the NFC in year 2.

Kudos to Mark Murphy on the choice. I was very skeptical about Murphy sticking his nose into the football operations power structure. But ML has been so impressive, it looks like a good move. Even though I have serious questions about the other two in that mix (Gute and Ball)

7 points
8
1
stockholder's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:37 am

Game Balls the entire Defense- Jackson is improving. Currently were looking at Jarod Bush. Bet he stays in Green Bay. I'm also seeing several others also improve. Hollman, Summers, and LanCaster. Still think the OL is missing. If Rodgers wasn't the QB. The TD passes don't happen.

3 points
4
1
Christian Roussel's picture

November 06, 2020 at 10:51 am

I also think that Jackson's technique is improving but he's now targeted by the officials and he can't catch a break with them. As soon as he touches a wr flag is flying.

1 points
2
1
PeteK's picture

November 06, 2020 at 11:33 am

I agree with O line comment, hopefully Bak's return will help. Werner was the latest player that looked like Superman against us.

-1 points
1
2
packer132's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:40 pm

What do you mean the OL was missing? They had a great game, especially Jenkins and Patrick. They kept a good SF defense out of Rodger's face and gave him plenty of time. Rodgers had another great game, and he even praised the line after the game. Wagner left with an injury and Runyan came in and played well. Jenkins shifted to tackle and they didn't miss a beat. Patrick has not allowed a sack or pressure in 163 snaps.

2 points
2
0
Razer's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:45 am

We did what should have against a depleted opponent. Thankful for the win. Do all the backslapping you want about this defense but it is not very good and not very deep. Hopefully, we can get the offense humming because we'll need the shootout power in the second half of the season.

4 points
5
1
nostradanus's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:50 am

MLF & Pettine hugged after the win, a hallmark moment her hee :)

3 points
5
2
HighPlainsDrifter's picture

November 06, 2020 at 09:37 am

I actually found that interaction to be significant. There has been a lot of talk about Pettine having been forced on MLF, as well as talk about MLF taking more responsibility for the defense.

The embrace may indicate that the two are on the same page. Of course, that is a totally speculative opinion.

0 points
2
2
Ollie1960's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:57 am

Can you imagine what Russell Wilson and the Hawks offense will do to Pettine's POS defense?

This win shows nothing but I will take the W in the standings.

7 points
10
3
marpag1's picture

November 07, 2020 at 01:36 am

LOL. If it makes you feel better, you might want to check out Seattle's defense, which is dead last and historically bad in yards allowed.

Seriously, let this settle in for a moment. The average offensive output in the NFL this year is 362 yards per game. The most prolific offense in yards per game is ARI at 419/game. Seattle gives up 461 per game.... 461 YARDS PER GAME!!! Not only is that dead last in the league, it's 40 yards per game worse than the closest competitor.

So... can you imagine what *AROD* and the *PACKERS* offense will do to *SEATTLE'S* POS defense?

Point allowed/game
GB – 25.5
SEA – 28.4

Total yards allowed/game
GB – 345.4
SEA – 460.9

Passing yards allowed/game
GB – 234.4
SEA – 358.7

Rushing yards allowed/game
SEA – 102.1
GB – 111

1 points
1
0
rstain99's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:57 am

Where the heck is Kevin King? need to remind you, you are in contract year? Josh Jackson is just not the answer sorry at Iowa he was their stud in GB dud. Hollman made a couple of plays but against preseason comp. I wish they were just average on that side of ball. Tough games coming up after Jacksonville how about NT Poe still out there Gute, part with some money, knew you wouldn't do anything at deadline time running out #12 is 36+ on a good note MVS had the stickem on him last night.

1 points
4
3
Coldworld's picture

November 06, 2020 at 09:10 am

Quad injuries happen and often take a month. He had a setback per the team. Let’s see next week. Hollman made plays against those he was playing. That’s an encouraging sign given he is a 4th stringer getting his first meaningful perimeter action.

6 points
6
0
jannes bjornson's picture

November 06, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Hollman is a better CB over Jackson. Starting to let Savage move more freely to make plays on the ball. Sullivan knows his job. Still feel a call to Tramon may be in order.

-1 points
1
2
Irish_Cheesehead's picture

November 06, 2020 at 07:58 am

The O-line held up well despite more injuries and constant reshuffling, but I’d also add some smart play calling by MLF helped keep the QB clean.

7 points
7
0
jhalwas611.com's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:00 am

Defensively I couldn't help but notice Lancaster making plays sideline to sideline. It was a lot more aggressive tackling also. But the one thing that continues to jump out to me is the play of Preston Smith. It could be the scheme , but why does he not hold the edge before pursuing down the line of scrimmage. It happens time and again.

5 points
6
1
jannes bjornson's picture

November 06, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Looks like a CMIII clone running the run blitz off course. Pointless.

0 points
2
2
packerbackerjim's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:05 am

Game: MVS for not falling into a funk after dropping the first pass in a critical situation. I wish I could say I didn’t, but I did.

Lame: Poor tackling technique. I do not know what they’re looking at when they are attempting to tackle but it wasn’t the belly button as I was taught.

3 points
4
1
pacman's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:12 am

Defense played with more energy but not as much as 49ers showed. They were getting stomped and still never gave up. Not quite how the Packers acted during in their losses. That's mostly coaching. Jury is still out until we play a real team. Let's hope none of the new injuries are anything serious.

I don't know why 49ers didn't double up Adams more or didn't play more 2 high but I'm glad Packers were able to make the most of it. And maybe Lazard can be a real #2. Wasn't this supposed to be a Malik Taylor night? And what ever happened to EQ? And get MVS some hypnosis to focus on the ball before looking upfield. Did anyone else feel uncomfortable with him catching the ball in his hands rather than pulling it into his body?

4 points
4
0
Swisch's picture

November 06, 2020 at 09:01 am

It would be interesting to compare Davante in his first two season with MVS.
I think MVS is going to turn out to be a keeper.
It's a good sign to see him catching the ball with his hands, even if he needs work pulling the ball into his body.
It does seem with drills, he can learn better focus on the ball before turning his eyes upfield.
I wouldn't give up on ESB, either.
If a young wide receiver has a good basis with speed, hands, ball skills, and route running, then there's no telling how far he can go.
That seems to be the lesson of Davante.

4 points
7
3
flackcatcher's picture

November 06, 2020 at 10:39 am

ESB is on a snap count. Coming off two years of non contract it's clear the Packers are being careful with his physical condition coming back. To think he was going to play Thursday night after playing on Sunday was unrealistic with this medical staff.

1 points
1
0
RCPackerFan's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:14 am

Game Balls-

Rodgers/Adams: Maybe this should just be an automatic spot for them. Is there a better QB - WR combo in the league? I can't think of one that is more in tune with each other then these 2 guys.

MVS: While he did have the 1 drop, he more then made up for it with 2 TD catches. Also, when another WR gets the ball he is blocking hard. What I'm hoping happens moving forward is we get Lazard back but MVS now has built in confidence from this game. If we can 3 WR's who are playing with a lot of confidence that only helps our team. This could be a big game for MVS's future. Lets just see if that happens.

Lame Calls-

Refs:
How do they miss the pass interference penalty on that 4th and 1 throw to Adams? Yeah Adams made a great play. But how do they not throw the flag? A penalty is a penalty. I get things can be missed but damn. There were a few others. But that one play damn!

Short Yardage-

Gary: While Gary didn't have huge stats, he looked like he was healthy and he was playing HARD. He was flying around. Glad to see because if he can keep playing like that big things will be coming.

P Smith: While he has been silent much of the first part of the year. He made what was probably the game changing play by getting to Mullins forcing him to throw a bad pass.

Greene: The defense is just different with Greene on it. Just is.

Savage: While he didn't come up with that interception he was in the right spot for it. Hopefully we can start to see a few more special plays like that from him.

12 points
12
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:25 am

Gary was active and played hard. Great hustle on a play where he ran down the ball carrier maybe 7 or 8 yards downfield to stop him a yard or two short of the first down.

7 points
7.5
0.5
RCPackerFan's picture

November 06, 2020 at 09:19 am

Also Gary was getting to the QB. There was one play for sure there should have been a holding penalty otherwise I believe he would probably have had a sack.

But he was really busting his butt.

5 points
6
1
Slim11's picture

November 06, 2020 at 09:07 am

Krys Barnes accidentally knocked the ball out of Savage's hands. I thought I saw contact with Banes' helmet.

4 points
4
0
RCPackerFan's picture

November 06, 2020 at 09:34 am

I couldn't tell if he did or not. But i like that he got in position to make the play.

4 points
4
0
Packers0808's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:16 am

Played a depleted team for sure, but there was a lot more Packer energy last night, not seen for a while!

6 points
6
0
Guam's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:23 am

I thought the O-line played quite well given the Packers were missing two of their three best tackles for most of the game. They protected Rodgers the whole game and run blocked well in the first half. I think the depth and versatility of the O-line personnel this year gives Gute a lot more flexibility in his free agent signings next year.

2 points
4
2
Guam's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:24 am

Double post.

0 points
0
0
Tundraboy's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:39 am

Absolutely. And now we can focus on the other Line and ILB.

-1 points
0
1
Tundraboy's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:36 am

That SF D lineup last night only proved in my mind, how stupid it is to think that LB is not as important to a defense, at least our team. We certainly need another DL or two, but just think about how much impact having a Fred Warner would have. It would transform this team. Until then it's just a roller coaster.

6 points
7
1
Lphill's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:37 am

Gary was productive the more snaps he gets the better but I'm concerned about our defensive backs I just don't see the depth i think we need some help there I don't know if anyone is out there , no way can we cover Seattle's receivers with these dB 's .

2 points
3
1
Coldworld's picture

November 06, 2020 at 09:17 am

You saw our deep depth last night. We started without King, Redmond was out. We had our 4th perimeter guy in half the game and later our 5 safety and 6th DB. Not to mention Burks and Summers at ILB

I’ve seen many teams where we had less depth at one or two down. It wasn’t perfect. Clear blown assignments gave them a score, but to me that was a very encouraging performance from young, deep roster players playing as a group.

7 points
7
0
HighPlainsDrifter's picture

November 08, 2020 at 05:52 am

Run on sentences equate to gibberish. Combine that with the failure to use capitalization, along with no punctuation, and you get the ranting of an uneducated deplorable.

0 points
0
0
Swisch's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:38 am

I still have to wonder about whether it's a good idea to keep Pettine.
The defense was not all that impressive in the first half, and continues to be soft and scattered.
What appeared to be a good effort seems a mirage made in part by Greene's interception, plus the 49ers being a little off with a new quarterback and other subs on offense --- for example, just missing out on a touchdown catch that popped out when the receiver hit the ground, and dropping an easy conversion on third down.
If our players showed some aggressiveness and ability last night, perhaps all the more reason to see if another coach can better coordinate a unit that seems usually disjointed.
This would be the time to make a change, with ten days until our next game, and a half-season of two months until the playoffs.
If it was up to me, and if there is anyone available who is reasonably capable of stepping up, I'd respectfully replace Pettine.

5 points
7
2
BAMABADGER's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:43 am

If and buts, what if the Packers had drafted Fred Warner in the 2nd round in 2018 instead of Josh Jackson. What a difference maker on defense, a player that can actually tackle.

5 points
6
1
BAMABADGER's picture

November 06, 2020 at 08:49 am

Zadarious Smith: "We've got a bunch of young guys and a bunch of new guys on defense, but for the opportunity to come together, man, and keep doing what we're doing on this team, we're going to be a great defensive unit."

Lame comment after playing a JV offense.

1 points
4
3
HankScorpio's picture

November 06, 2020 at 09:42 am

Lame call: Sticking to Thursday night schedule for this game and not shifting it to Sunday. Probably driven by TV money. The only real turning point of this game was the submission of the active gameday roster. Once those two pieces of paper were submitted, this one was decided.

Game Balls: Same choice. At least I can still watch the NASCAR championship race without missing the Packers.

Nothing that happened on the field meant very much to me. It felt like a preseason game where one team was priming their starters while the other was looking at their depth.

3 points
4
1
Packers0808's picture

November 06, 2020 at 10:27 am

Sounds like all you do is go in circles!

8 points
8
0