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Packers vs. 49ers: Quick Takes from Green Bay's 34-28 Loss

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Packers vs. 49ers: Quick Takes from Green Bay's 34-28 Loss

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.

Game Balls

  • 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.

Key Stats

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).

Other Notes

– 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 [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (44) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RC Packer Fan's picture

That pretty much sums it up.

Packers lost by 6. To a team that is widely considered the best in the league. Also the most physical.
What I learned is the Packers can remove the 'soft' label after this game. Johnny Jolly has definitely made an impact. He brings a certain toughness, and its something that has been missing while he was gone.
I think not having Hayward and Burnett really had a major affect on this game. I believe once they come back their DB's will be much improved.

Tibbits's picture

I agree with everything you said. Missing Morgan was absolutely devastating. I saw McMillian out of position and getting torched all freaking day. Seriously, it seemed like every big play the Packers gave up you saw #22 near the ball, but not in position or whiffing on a tackle.

L's picture


jc's picture

The Packer needed to get after Kaepernick a little more. Their contain rush was effective in limiting his running but gave him way too much time to pick them apart. They needed to mix it up and play more aggressive.

darrin's picture

Stopping the run was nice, but zero push up the middle. Kaep had all day to stand in there and find....Boldin...over and over again. It'd be nice if the DL could collapse pocket once in a while, kinda like SF did on the last play of the game with a 3-man rush. WTF. Secondary looked lost at times. Hopefully Burnett and Hayward fix that. Bottom line is turnovers cost the Packers the game, otherwise it was a respectable performance. Just not good enough to overcome the giveaways.

chris's picture

I agree with your post as it seems like Capers was hell bent on stopping the read option but then got burned by the pass. It sure would be nice to see what would have happened if he would changed things up every once in a while and blitzed. I dont believe that Hayward or Burnett would have made any difference as the same could be said with San Fran maybe having Crabtree and Manningham. I think they could have possibly passed for 700 yards if they had those options and we had our complete secondary. We have the talent in the secondary its just the Capers passive approach on defense is absolutely killing this team. Despite what the Bovine says we have a top team but we are being totally crippled by Capers which is leaving our corners sitting in the same zones all the time, which is evidently predictable. I am still worried with this team having a defense unwilling to change things up will probably lead us to fighting for our playoff lives come December and then being jettisoned soon there after because of a porous defense.

L's picture

This sounds a bit like an emotional overreaction to the game. You make it sound like Capers is the be-all-end-all in regards to what's really wrong with the Packers.

TommyG's picture

The giveaways sealed our fate.

I firmly believe that our Packers have what it takes to be the best in the league, but mistakes will end any hope of a championship.

We should all be very confident heading into next week against the skins.


THEMichaelRose's picture

Yeah, we'll see how good Washington looks tomorrow. But as of right now I'm thinking a double-digit victory.

Lynwood Elliot's picture

No comments about Ross trying to Return Kick-offs? He's terrible, made at least two bone head plays...hopefully they can sign a replacement before next week.

dawg's picture

No physical corner to cover Boldin.
No pass rush on Kap. 400 passing yrds.
No OL, Pass---run block?
sealed our fate!

Bring on the Skins.

jh9's picture

Our offensive line couldn't open enough running lanes for Lacy and they couldn't give AR enough pass protection to pick apart the 49ers defense. Although our defensive front seven played well against the run, our secondary was awful.

I expect we'll see improvement throughout the team as the season progresses. However, after seeing how out-classed our o'line was today even if they improve they will still be out-classed by the 49ers defensive front seven should we meet them again in the playoffs. My takeaway from this game is: We need an upgrade of talent on the o'line to compete with the best teams in the NFL.

dawg's picture

Upgrade on OL? ya think?

L's picture

Actually I thought the O-line held-up surprisingly well considering I already knew that they were hard pressed to run block effectively against that defensive front. The pass protection was good enough to keep the team in the game despite two turnovers, a major ref F-up, and terrible field position all day.

I will say that outside of J.Sitton's run blocking penalties EDS was clearly the weakest link of the O-line. The two tackles played quite well, especially the rook given his particular matchups.

dawg's picture

Watch out for cincy!

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I came away feeling as good about a loss as possible.

SF may have the best o line in football, we shut their running game down. It was obvious our D was much more concerned about keeping contain than rushing the passer, rightfully so I might add.

SF may have the best front seven in football. To me, the pass pro was overall a plus, especially given the fact that this unit is young and still gelling on the line, I think they will improve as the season progresses.

The secondary needs Burnett, that should really help, and having Casey available won't hurt our cause.

Tough loss, but a lot to be optimistic about.

L's picture


I think the Center position should be a top priority in the draft next year, b/c EDS was the weakest link by far IMO... minus the penalties committed by J.Sitton in the run game which was a unusual for him.

Our Safeties played slow and not all that physical which I thought was the biggest problem for us on D.

dawg's picture

Best DL in the league.

cincy! Watch out!

OL better be in top form!

Idiot Fan's picture

Lots of times this game could have spiraled out of control, but this team fought like hell and still came close without their best stuff. I'm more optimistic than I was 24 hours ago. Burnett, get healthy dude.

Kevin's picture

As far as McCarthy handling Finley/Lacy differently, that reminds e of training camp. When Harris got hurt, MM was steadfast in saying that he was still the starter. But when Hayward got hurt, he had to work his way back into the lineup.

Really interesting to see how MM treats some players differently than others. I wonder if anybody resents it? Maybe I'm reading too much into it

MarkinMadison's picture

1. Ross has to go.
2. Why can't Capers make in game adjustments? No reason not to do something to neutralize Boldin.
3. Different guys respond to different things. When McCarthy hands #12 his own locker room, then I'll start worrying about differential treatment.

Nerd's picture

Now we get to hear until January how "Boldin terrorized us," because we left him uncovered.

Nevermind the two turnovers and FIVE 3 and outs.

Even with all that shit suckage, this team was in it to the end.

The Mike McCarthy paradigm: Shit yourself for 2 out of every 4 quarters, then try to "overcome adversity!"

Lars's picture

Both McCarthy and your boy Capers were outcoached and have been now by the Niners three times in the past year.

And, Boldin DID terrorize GB, as did Kaepernick and Davis. Capers' led defenses have given up 1,800 yards in the last four games, including the two playoff games. Still want to deflect and defend Dom Capers?

Bearmeat's picture

I wouldn't say that MM was outcoached. Capers absolutely was.

Nerd's picture

By saying we left Boldin uncovered, I'm not defending Capers.

What I'm saying is, Mike's general offensive philosophy costs this team games every year. He also rarely has this team ready to play for a full 60. As we saw yesterday.

Dennis eckersley's picture

I thought the defense was great until we took the lead. Niners racked up well over 100 on those last two drives. They also had the ball for 40:00 minutes, so we were asking a lot from our defense. especially with the turnovers and terrible field position. I'd be willing to bet that we had more yards/play than they did.

Lars's picture

Then, you'd be wrong. Time of possession was almost 2 to 1 in favor of the Niners because the defense couldn't get off the field. At one point the Niners were 6 of 8 on 3rd down conversions. Capers couldn't stop SF if his life depended on it. He won't make adjustments because that would mean his genius game plans weren't perfect. Shoot, Capers couldn't even stop the Vikings last year.

Bearmeat's picture

The 9ers are built for TOP. The Packers aren't. GB will not win TOP against the 9ers. Ever. TOP matters, but not as much as turnovers.

The 2 uncharacteristic TO's (and none for us) lost us the game. Don't worry. We'll get another shot at them.

L's picture

He said yards/play.

redlights's picture

Yes the time of possession is a big deal. My hope is that Lacy helps with that, but MM still has to stay with the run. Today was better than last year.

I honestly think that the both teams played well and the better team won. Given how close this was, a playoff game could go either way. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Obviously, the dbacks got torched; the oline isn't all pro; we'll win lots of games if we play like this every week.

Cole's picture

We'll see them again in the playoffs. I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't lose another game, even though we'll probably have 1 or 2 more fluke losses (not saying this one was cow, you douche!). In the end it comes down to us and the 9ers from what we saw in week 1. WIth Hayward and Burnett, I think we win this game.

Lars's picture

They had Burnett and Burnett last year and got slaughtered by the Niners.

Bearmeat's picture

Yep. Burnett/Heyward completely change this game.

WKUPackFan's picture

I have to preface my comment by saying I love this site. Aaron, Brian, et al, provide great analysis. Top Packers site along with Jersey Al's. Also, I'm the biggest MM suppoter there is. Having said that:

Three post game articles thus far and no mention of possibly the worst coaching decision in goodness knows how long? Any, and I mean any, knowledgable football person declines that penalty and forces 4th down. I haven't thrown anything in my house since Favre failed on the last 4th down in the Denver SB (and that was out of disappointment, not BF's play) until today. It's so automatic that any other thought even being considered is unbelievable. Naturally, the ref's mistake doesn't happen but for this simply inexcusable error.

Ranking up there in the error department was the coaching staff's failure to catch the ref's mistake, which could have been corrected. Granted, almost everyone missed it (including me), but professional coaches must know the rules and game situation at all times. It was not MM's and the staff's best day.

VApackerfan's picture

I didn't read into the penalty/4th down decline as much as you. My perspective is that it's a gamble one way or another. I thought it was MM making a statement week 1 regarding his confidence in his defense. 4th and 1 vs. 4th and 3 etc. is a big difference for a team like SF and F. Gore. MM knew they would go for it on 4th and most likely convert vs. possibly creating a situation where it would be 4th and a few more yards.

WKUPackFan's picture

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I agree that was MM's thought process, that Harbaugh would go for it. However, having engaged in that process he didn't think far enough. First, it's a bad decision by SF if they go for it. Any reasonable person takes the 3 at that point in the game. If you're GB you want them to go for it. Second, if you think SF is going you have to consider that the possibility that they gain some yards and you're right back in the same position. There are other possibilities, none of which I believe justify giving a team an extra play in the red zone.

VApackerfan's picture

Agreed. I will admit I was a little surprised too. Harbaugh & co. would have gone for it on 4th and statistically speaking would have converted. Backing them up and trusting your D to be in a longer 4th down situation was the's a gamble that didn't pay off. If it did, we would be looking at it as a brilliant/bold coaching move.

VApackerfan's picture

My biggest concern going into this game was protecting Rodgers. For the most part I saw some promising things from Bakhtiari. Gotta remember he is going against the leagues best pass rush....A very tough first test. Eddie Lacy had almost zero chance to gain positive yards. SF was collapsing all lanes. No RB can do much with that. Our D line came to play, so did Matthews. Didn't see anything from Perry or D. Jones. For as much positive talk about this defensive secondary, they certainly failed to say the least. Ross was terrible today...enough said.

If you predicted a 10-6, 11-5 etc....What better game to lose than to SF away? This team will be fine. After watching other games, other notable teams had more glaring holes. No need to panic. We have #12

ben's picture

what is md Jennings doing?

VApackerfan's picture

trying to fill in for our injured starter.

Hank Scorpio's picture

I would hope that Darren Perry, Joe Whitt and Dom Capers are discussing the transition of Micah Hyde from CB to Safety starting today.

PigFaceJoe's picture

All I have to say is, thank God I'm not a Steelers fan. They looked like a dumpster fire yesterday.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

And we like to bitch about our injuries... Yikes.

VApackerfan's picture

I thought injuries only happened to our team

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