The 49ers hadn’t won a game in Lambeau since 1990…. until now.
The San Francisco 49ers went into Green Bay as underdogs against the Packers and managed to come out winners by the end of it 30-22. The Niners went out early on with a strong defense and a balanced offense all the while meaning to keep the ball out of the hands of Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers as much as possible. Despite the rallying Packers in the 2nd half started with a 4th quarter 75 yard Punt Return TD by Randall Cobb and the wildly inconsistent refs, the 49ers start the year 1-0.
The 49ers held the Packers offense down for most of the night. They made them one dimensional limiting the rushing attack to only 45 yards and allowed only two offensive TDs, both of which were TD passes from Aaron Rodgers. They managed to contain Rodgers with a variety of blitz schemes and making sure that they were not beat on a big play from Green Bay. They even managed to get a turnover with NaVarro Bowman intercepting a Rodgers’ pass in the 4th quarter which led to a Frank Gore TD Run to make it a 15 point game in favor of San Francisco.
The Defense did allow Rodgers to throw another TD in the fourth as he hit an open James Jones for a 10 yard TD catch capping off a 76 yard drive. The Packers then got another chance with 3:37 left in the game starting from the Green Bay 16. However, the 49ers defense regrouped with blitzing schemes and, despite a few first downs by the Packers, forced a turnover on downs with 54 seconds to go with no Time Outs for either side. It was V formation from there on out.
As for their offense, the 49ers managed to get a good balanced attack going that helped them get a lot of points. It was a bit slow to start on the first drive but once the nerves got out the points started to come. The 49ers mostly settled for FG’s in the first half (including an NFL record tying 63 yard FG to end the half By David Akers) but in the middle of them came a TD pass to Randy Moss in the 2nd quarter scoring on what seemed to be a blown coverage assignment.
The first drive for the 49ers in the 2nd half ended in a TD as Alex Smith finished a 84 yard drive with a 4 yard TD pass to Vernon Davis who made a great diving catch. Then of course that 23 yard TD run for Frank Gore after the Bowman interception as mentioned earlier helped put the game away.
Gore had a nice game leading the team in rushing with 112 yards in 16 carries. With some of those moves he made, especially on the TD Run, Gore proved he’s still elite despite ever coming closer to age 30. The 49ers ran for 186 yards as a team.
Running has been a staple for the 49ers in recent years but it was passing that was definitely emphasized in this game. A lot of the drives were moved by Alex Smith’s arm and his largely new wide receiving core. It was the familiar, however, who turned out to be the biggest target as Michael Crabtree managed to get 7 receptions for 76 yards. Don’t forget Randy Moss with 4 catches for 47 yards and the TD catch. Mario Manningham did make a dent as well with 4 catches and 29 yards. While Vernon Davis wasn’t targeted as much as he is use to, he still got 3 receptions for 43 yards and a TD catch.
Alex Smith, himself, seemed to be more than a “Game Manager” in his trip to Green Bay. While quite a few of his early throws seem high, his receivers seemed to make good catches as he settled down and Smith read the coverages well not pushing for a big play but settling for underneath routes. Despite getting sacked 4 times, Smith finished the day going 20/26 with 211 passing yards and 2 TD passes. Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, went 30/44 for 303 yards for 2 TD passes himself but did make that costly INT which led to a 49ers TD.
A side story to all of the excitement in this game were the mistakes the officiating crew were making. Missed calls, bad penalties, and late flags made both 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy go a bit more grey on their heads. One of the crucial missed calls was on the punt return for a TD by Randall Cobb where there appeared to be a block in the back committed by Packers’ Linebacker Terrell Manning. The refs initially threw a flag a and then said there was no foul committed on the play. Neither team has to be feeling confident in the replacement refs after this contest.
Despite the bad calls, it didn’t seem to change the outcome of the game. The 49ers dominating defense and balanced offense proved too much for the 15-1 Packers of a season ago. The only things that the 49ers really need to work on are perhaps special teams coverage schemes and Vernon Davis’ ability to dunk over a goal post.
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Written by Daniel Trucios