The Green Bay Packers went into Candlestick Park today and lost their 2013 season opener to the San Francisco 49ers 34-28.
The game was a back-and-forth struggle that could easily have gone the Packers’ way. However, seemingly for every positive play they made the Packers found a way to pull a corresponding negative play out of their helmets.
The absences of S Morgan Burnett and CB Casey Hayward were exploited by San Francisco, leading to career days for both QB Colin Kaepernick and WR Anquan Boldin in the passing game. For long stretches of the game it looked as if nothing the Packers could do was going to slow the 49ers passing game down.
The Packers offense can be commended for being resilient, but at critical times in this game they also seemed completely ineffective. The three-and-out after the last 49ers score was particularly difficult to watch.
Here are my Chest Bumps and Thumps from the Packers-49ers season opener:
Chest Bump – to the Packers run defense. They allowed only 2.6 yards per attempt. A much-improved performance. Many stops were for loss. Of course there were a few glaring exceptions, but the emphasis for a long time was on keeping SF bottled up on the ground. For the most part they were successful.
Thump - to Josh Sitton. 71 managed to wipe out nearly every positive running play the Packers ran in the first half via penalty. He was flagged for illegal hands to the face. He was flagged twice for holding.
Thump - to the Packers secondary. Kaepernick threw for 412 yards. Boldin caught 208 of them and a TD. Davis had another 98 yards and two TDs. Especially vulnerable was the middle of the field- either on crossing patterns or straight verticals. This is not the kind of pass defense that will get the Packers to the playoffs again this season. I realize some key guys are out, but this was hard to watch. 49er receivers seemed to be open all day.
Chest Bump – to Tim Masthay. 8 had kickoff duty in this one and he wasn’t afraid to stick his nose in and make some tackles in coverage. Refreshing, but dangerous. His punting was solid as well. This just in: Masthay is a keeper T.T.
Thump – to Clay Matthews. This was the tale of two Clays. Good Clay…had a sack, a huge tackle for loss early in the game, some good pressure on Kaepernick, and shared the team lead in tackles with seven of them. He was also stout in run defense. But…Bad Clay jawed at the 49ers way too much, whiffed on some easy tackles, and left his feet to tackle Kaepernick out of bounds, causing a short brawl which ended up costing the Packers points. May we please have the good 52 from now on Mr. Matthews?
Chest Bump - to Randall Cobb. Cobbernicus had 108 yards, a couple of contested how-did-he-hang-on-to-that catches, great YAC, a TD, and some hard-earned yards on the ground. I’ve asked Coach to stop running 18 out of the backfield, but I guess he figures he knows more about this stuff than I do. The nerve of that guy!
Thump - to Jeremy Ross. Ross brought a couple of kickoffs out of the end zone when he should have stayed in and taken a knee. The resulting lousy field position just made it that much more difficult for the Packers to stay close in this game. Think it through before you leave the end zone 10.
Chest Bump - to Brad Jones. Jones played with a hamstring injury that limited him in practice this week, but he didn’t let it keep him from sharing the team lead in tackles with seven and three assists. Way to tough it out Mr. Jones.
Chest Bump – to Jordy Nelson. 87 had 130 tough yards, a TD, nice YAC, and two spectacular sideline catches in this one. He’s a big reason why I think the offense can keep this team in games. He took a couple of hard hits in this game but he shook them off and went out and made plays.
Thump - to Eddie Lacy. Lacy’s numbers weren’t all his fault. The O line opened precious few holes for him in this game. He managed to end up with 41 yards, but most of those were late in the game. And he fumbled deep in Packers territory. I want to see Lacy succeed for many reasons, but he won’t get the chance if he can’t hold on to the ball.
Chest Bump - to Johnny Jolly. It was great to see 97 back on the field. Jolly went out with a leg injury but came right back and kept playing. He had just one tackle and one assist in this game, so this is my welcome-back freebie bump. He’ll have to earn the rest.
Thump - to Packers O line. The O line couldn’t open holes for the RBs. They allowed two sacks and a bunch of pressures on Rodgers. Perhaps worst of all on the final play of the game all five of them somehow managed to find a way to allow only three pass rushers get to Rodgers and force him to dump off what should have been a throw to the end zone. Nobody played with distinction, of a positive nature anyway, on the O line in this game.
Thump - to Jermichael Finley. Finley is what he is. He drops a potential TD pass early. He tips a catchable ball to a defender for a pick. Then he makes a nice sideline balancing play and leaps in for a TD. I guess the braintrust has decided the benefits of having 88 around outweigh the drawbacks, but it’s hard to see it sometimes.
Chest Bump – to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers threw for 333, ran for 13, absorbed hits, kept things running and in general did everything he could do to win the game. He needed pass protection he didn’t consistently get. He needed receivers to catch balls they didn’t catch. And above all he needed a defense that was capable of helping him and the offense out. He’s human though. A couple of his unpressured passes were clearly off the mark. Turnovers didn’t kill the Packers in this game. The Packers could have won it. But if Lacy hadn’t fumbled and Finley hadn’t scoop-drilled the ball to a 49ers DB this thing probably would have come out differently.
Thump - to the officials. Where to begin? The obvious but missed facemask on Lacy during the first series. The offsetting penalties and resulting extra play incorrectly allowed after the Matthews sideline tackle of Kaepernick that the 49ers used to score a TD. The obvious holding penalties against Matthews late in the game. The missed personal foul call when Rodgers was sacked early in the fourth quarter and then piled on afterward. Not starting off with a bang, are we zebras?
If you don’t already, try listening to the games in surround sound … Go Pack Go chants were heard, along with a chorus of boos from the home fans, clearly in the surround channels … Lots of Packers fans in town for the Niners game watched the America’s Cup racing on San Francisco Bay Saturday before the game Sunday … I like having Mike Pereira available for penalty explanations on Fox broadcasts … I thought for sure when the Packers got the ball with 5:00 left they would win this game … then they went three and out … Troy Aikman “didn’t see much to” the roughing call of Aaron on Brooks … Boldin pushed off on Tramon Williams before catching that 4th down pass … How does Cobb not get out of bounds on the pass play with 26 seconds left?
With regard to the Fearsome Predictions I made prior to the game, I can honestly say I nailed more of them than I missed. See for yourself. Watch out readers. You can’t stop me from making Fearsome Predictions. You can only hope to contain me.
The Green Bay Packers have the rest of their season in front of them. They battled the 49ers and came out on the short end of the stick but they don’t have to like it. They play another mobile quarterback who can beat you with his arm or his legs in RGIII next Sunday. If they can stop beating themselves they should win the game. If they keep making the same kind of mistakes they made against the 49ers they’ll probably be 0-2.
The 2013 season is just getting started. We’ll be along for the ride all the way to the Super Bowl. Let’s bring on the Washington (insert your favorite politically-neutral new team name for the Redskins here). Home opener here we come!
Go Pack GO!