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Packers vs. 49ers: Quick Hit Observations from Film Re-Watch

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Packers vs. 49ers: Quick Hit Observations from Film Re-Watch

For the second time in as many meaningful games at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers (0-1) were handed a loss by a team more physical, better prepared and who executed better on both sides of the football.

The San Francisco 49ers impressively beat the Packers on the road to start the 2012 season, 30-22.

One week does not a season make, but the gut reaction from one watching was that the film would show some glaring worries for this team moving forward. After several re-watches early this morning, those fears were mostly confirmed.

Here's some quick-hit observations from taking several more looks at Sunday's game:


The first series was a precursor to Clay Matthews' big day. On third down, Matthews walked 49ers left tackle Joe Staley into the offensive backfield, taking down Alex Smith in the process to finish the play. Staley, a Pro Bowl tackle, had his moments in containing the edge rush, but Matthews won this matchup for most of Sunday.

The 49ers played undermanned defensive fronts for most of Sunday, but the Packers couldn't take advantage on the ground. Even early on, when it appeared Cedric Benson had a small crease or hole, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis were there to close up shop. The best inside linebacking duo in football were able to flow freely to the football as the Packers were incapable of getting their offensive linemen into the second level.  It was another soft performance up front.

Vic Fangio was one step ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy all afternoon. Fangio's looks were so well disguised pre-snap by the 49ers that Rodgers had trouble with what he was seeing post-snap. This is one of the best (if not the best) defenses the Packers have ever faced with Rodgers at the helm.

In the first quarter, Jarrett Bush gave up a big play to Randy Moss because he was terrified of getting beat deep. Moss pushed up field, Bush turned his shoulders and hips to sprint and Moss broke off the route. Bush was completely turned around by the time the ball was in the air. He's physical and can tackle in space, but this is not a starting cornerback on a Super Bowl contending team. Period.

NaVorro Bowman might be the best linebacker in football.

Greg Jennings is so slippery after the catch. On a few early short routes, Jennings was able to escape the original tackle attempt. But in the second half, Jennings was mostly a ghost as Carlos Rogers shut him down. He caught just five passes for 34 yards on 10 targets.

Call me Captain Obvious, but I saw a number of poor calls from the replacement refs. An early phantom block in the back call on the kicking team, Matthews' roughing the quarterback and picking up the block in the back flag on Randall Cobb's 75-yard touchdown return were the big ones, but they also missed at least two easy false starts on Staley. The entire game just felt mismanaged by an overmatched crew. It won't be the first time you read those words about a game officiated by a replacement crew in 2012.

Dom Capers was in a lose-lose situation for most of Sunday. If he went base defense, the 49ers were able to find mismatches with receivers against Packers linebackers. If Capers went nickel or dime, San Francisco ran it down his throat. There was very little in terms of successful adjustments.

However, Capers wasn't helped by a secondary that once again looked confused and out of place. Just like 2011, receivers ran free and Packers defenders were left pointing fingers. These are young players, but break downs like the touchdown to Moss or Vernon Davis' big gain on a shallow cross are unacceptable.

There wasn't a soul watching the game who didn't know Colin Kaepernick was going to run when he came into the game at the end of the first half. The Packers staff said during the week they had prepared for Kaepernick to take some snaps. Yet the Packers looked like they didn't know what hit them as he helped set up David Akers' miracle field goal.

Akers' kick was among the best ever, but the Packers gave him a big hand. Kaepernick's run, on top of Rodgers' mistake throwing the ball away on third down and Mike McCarthy's use of a timeout gave San Francisco the time it needed to kick a potential kick in place. And considering how low Akers' kick had to be, it's hard to believe the Packers couldn't even get close to getting a hand on it up the middle. Zero push.

I wonder what McCarthy had in mind when he called for one of his staple plays on 3rd-and-1 during the Packers' first series of the second half. He had no reason to assume single coverage on Jordy Nelson, who ran a deep post off the playaction. The 49ers had stopped the run without safety help all afternoon. Dashon Goldson had perfect help over the top and Rodgers threw into double coverage. Jermichael Finley had his man beat over the middle, and John Kuhn was available in the right flat, but Rodgers took the high-risk, high-reward throw and got nothing. The Packers punted, and the 49ers then proceeded to go nine plays to take a 23-7 lead.

Hard not to like the way Green Bay used Randall Cobb. In a way, he was used much like the Saints use Darren Sproles down in New Orleans. By lining him up in the backfield, the Packers almost always got a favorable matchup against a lesser athlete. And considering how good Cobb is after the catch, the short passes worked as replication of a running game that was otherwise non-existant Sunday.

Jermichael Finley's issues catching the football are still present. He had one clear drop on third down that would have extended a drive and another that should have been caught away from his body. Both passes needed to be caught by a guy who wants to get paid like an elite NFL tight end.

Surprised Alex Green couldn't get a snap. At the very least, a designed screen made sense on one of the many third downs that San Francisco brought an extra blitzer. Cobb's role in the backfield contributed to Green's day being limited to the sidelines.

Rodgers made probably the worst throw of his last 25-30 games during a time when he absolutely couldn't make an awful decision. Bowman made the easy pick in front of Jennings, but the safety probably would have gotten his hands on the ball had Bowman not been standing directly in front of the play. Awful decision, awful time. It was the one play that the Packers absolutely had to avoid, especially in catchup-mode.

The defense actually made stops when they had to have them late. Matthews was unblockable during the 49ers final couple of possessions. Rodgers' turnover fueled Frank Gore's demoralizing touchdown run, but San Francisco was forced to punt on four of its last five possessions.

Rodgers' struggles in rallying late continued.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

You forgot the missed roughing the passer call on the Rodgers sack on the last drive. He got pulled down by the helmet, whether it was the facemask or ear hole.

Not saying the refs cost the Packers the game - the Packers were out played fair and square - but they did seem to get the brunt of the bad calls, aside from Cobb's TD.

Tarynfor12's picture

I'm happy to see you didn't attempt to give a prop to Nick Perry...slow off the snap,flat footed,simply handled all game.Yes he had a play or two but this is ridiculous for a rookie of his expectations.He was told it counts now...right?
CM3 earned his on his own!!!

PackersRS's picture

Yes, all very true, but in no instance should Perry be covering a wide receiver. That's more on Capers than on Perry.

packeraaron's picture

Matthews' first sack was a direct result of pressure Perry had from the other side. Speaking of Matthews, he took half a season to start making plays his rookie year. May want to give the rook more than four quarters of regular season play to bury him...

Tarynfor12's picture

I'm not burying him but who put the cement shoes on him?

Oppy's picture

Your assessment of Nick Perry is still wrong, Taryn.

Just because someone didn't compliment him, doesn't mean he was poor or a no-show.

Yeah, he's got things to work on. But he also still collapsed the pocket and he made some nice tackles from behind on the opposite side of the line, as well.

Beep's picture

I would definitely work out Perry with the DB's to get some pointers on pass coverage. The WR/TE's took 4-5 steps at him before he moved on coverage assignments. Lots of learning to go.

packsmack25's picture

Why on earth would you want these DBs instructing him on coverage techniques?

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

You're talking about another teams DB's schooling him, right?

FriscoTenderloiners's picture

True, but I'd also cover him in peanut butter and make him catch a greased pig while being chased by St. Bernards. Much more effective. Other ideas include Breaking pinatas with Long snapper Brett Goode, or putting Shaun Slocum in the basket of a tricycle and forcing him to do 50 laps around Lambeau.

Evan's picture

The bright side of this short week is hopefully they can let that bitter taste in their mouths give them a little extra motivation against the Bears.

FriscoTenderloiners's picture

Since when do men need a bitter taste in their mouths to do their job and win football games. But if they do win, we better start giving them bitter foods during practice.

Evan's picture

They don't "need" it, obviously, but when comparing 2010 with 2011, I think I'd rather see a team facing adversity and rising to it as opposed to coasting.

Evan's picture

Also, one last question, by when do the Packers have to make a roster move to accommodate Walden?

Bearmeat's picture

I'm not as worried as most here. The 9ers have perhaps the best OL and front 7 on D since the '00 Ravens.

We're going to get another crack at them, and IMO MM and AR will not get caught with their pants down again.

Poor tackling and soft OL play is the only worry here. Those are physical mistakes that can't be 'corrected'. The players just have to execute, and I don't know if they can do it.

Evan's picture

I'm with you for the most part. For all the Packers issues, it was ultimately a pretty close game - they had the ball with a chance to tie it at the end. (If it weren't for the boneheaded end of the half, they would have been going for the win.)

I still like this team and like their chances when they face them again in the playoffs.

Jeremy's picture

What pisses me off is that they would start beating the 49ers with passes up the seam, and screens Cobb out of the backfield but then they would stop and start chucking it deep off play action and running Benson on inside zones. What film has McCarthy seen on the 49ers were that krap beats them?

FriscoTenderloiners's picture

Agreed, in fact, MM and AR aren't even going to wear pants to the next meeting.

Mojo's picture

When is CWood going to stop holding and grabbing receivers and just try to cover the opponents. As the leader of the secondary he needs to set a better example.

ARod's decision making was below par this game. The interception was an obvious bad choice, but I'm glad you pointed out the third and one call. He should have taken one of his check-downs to keep the drive alive instead of throwing deep into double coverage. Plus he had all day to make review his options. A long drive there, after the half was needed.

It's hard to pick one of the many bad calls the refs made, but I'm trying to figure out how the Pack got plus penalty yardage on the first 49ers punt. I didn't know the kicking team could block in the back, unless they recovered the ball somehow. Still don't know what the call was there. But seeing Harbaugh do an impression of man with rabies brought one of the few joys in watching this game.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Did anybody else notice Matthews, Perry, and Moses on the field at the same time? Or was I seeing things?


Jamie's picture

Yes...I saw it at least one play. Moses and Perry outside and Matthews blitzed from the middle.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I dig it.

Oppy's picture

Wait to see how much you'll dig seeing Matthews, Perry, Moses AND Walden on the field at once when they run some special Psycho package.

Chris's picture

What about the play calling? They called runs strictly on first downs. It was so obvious even to me. Why not mix it up a little and run on 2nd down and throw it on first?
Green Bay was outplayed and outcoached. Mayb it wakes some people up. Just doesn't sound like it when you read what players are saying.

razor's picture

New season. More talent on defense. Best QB and receivers. Mild threat of a running game. Oops, what the?! Everything looks the same as the KC and NYG games. The offense can be contained and the defense still looks confused and gassed. Other than Randal Cobb I didn't see any sparks. Special congrats to James Jones for making plays in this game. He doesn't get a lot of respect. Feel bad for DD.

CanadianPackersFan's picture

Did Donal Driver get any snaps at all ?

woodson4president's picture

Moses will be a factor this year! Wait n see.

KurtMc's picture

Another lingering issue from last year is the poor tackle technique. Who's instructing these guys, Deion Sanders? Give the 49's secondary props. They tackle & don't give a lot of YAC.

Tommer's picture

Am I the only person who thought the roughing the passer call on CM3 was legit? He launched himself into the air after the ball had left Smith's hand. Then he draped himself over the QB and rode him to the ground. Matthews hit him high and could have easily seen that the ball was gone.

Didn't like the outcome, but in this day and age of QB protection, he should have known better.

Chris's picture

Would have been perfectly fine 10 years ago, but today this is flagged almost every time. He was a step too late and still made the tackle.
Totally agree with you.

Piedmont Packer Fan's picture

Thank goodness this game occurred early in the season.

petr's picture

I thought Morgan Burnett had an absolutely terrible game. His effort for the tackle on Frank Gore's TD in the 4th quarter was appalling. I also thought D.J. Smith was very poor as were Lang (especially), Sitton and Bulaga.

Oppy's picture

I think Burnett needed reprimand for that lousy attempt at a tackle, but then, so did the other two defenders (It was Woodson and Williams, I believe, who also blew it). It was lousy, but I don't believe it should taint his entire performance, either.

Per McGinn, DJ Smith missed three tackles. He also made a boat-load of open field tackles and plays at the LOS.

Also per McGinn, Newhouse only allowed 1 pressure to Smith/Smith, and he commented, "it would be nit-picking", stating that Newhouse held his own against the most dominant, overpowering DE in the league in Justin Smith. Newhouse and Lang not once allowed the patented Justin Smith/Aldon Smith stunt to penetrate, something thought to be near impossible practically. McGinn also notes that the best run of the game (well, it was only 4 yards...) came off a very impressive block by Lang.

Oppy's picture

Oh, also, Sitton did not allow a pressure, either.

Saturday gave up four pressures, and Bulaga was not good. I'm worried about Bulaga, something isn't right with him. I wonder if he has some sort of small, aggravating injury that hasn't been made public..

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