The 49ers in their season opener were far from perfect. However, in their 34-28 victory over the Packers, what San Francisco showed is that dethroning them as the NFC Champs is not going to be easy. This game featured two NFC heavyweights and it went all 12 rounds. The visitors took the lead midway through the 4th, but the 49ers took Green Bay’s best shot, countered and delivered the knockout blow, beating the Packers at Candlestick for the second time in eight months.
The 49ers have a lot of new parts on offense, and due to injuries are missing some key pieces, so it was to be expected that they would not be clicking on all cylinders offensively. The total numbers are impressive, with 494 yards, but there was no balance. Frank Gore was held in check, finishing with only 44 yards on 22 carries and as a team the 49ers had only 90 yards on the ground. This was the game plan of the Packers though, as they were not going to let the 49ers beat them with the run for the second straight time, but this opened things up through the air.
It was against a less than stellar secondary, but Colin Kaepernick was impressive. He had his first career 400-yard passing game, threw three touchdowns and showed composure well beyond his years. Anquan Boldin, in his 49er debut, hauled in 13 catches for 208 yards, a touchdown, and had a big reception on 4th down that all but sealed the win. Vernon Davis also had a big day, with two touchdowns, and will no longer (for now), have to hear critics wonder out loud why he is not on the same page as Kaepernick.
The level of competition was not even, but in the end, the 49ers offense out played the Packers offense, which is a feather in their cap. They failed to get any real separation that would have allowed the defense and fans to feel more comfortable, but a lot of it was self-inflicted wounds that are not only correctable, but are to be expected for week 1 with new or missing players.
The San Francisco defense was not given the luxury of easing into this season. To face Aaron Rodgers is never fun, especially week 1 when he has had an entire offseason to get ready. It eventually came down to the last play of the game, but the 49ers defense has to be content with their performance. In their last meeting the Packers scored 31 points, so to hold them to fewer points this time around is positive, and shows that the defense is still at a championship level.
Rookie running back Eddie Lacy ran hard, and gives the Packers a running threat, but he was going against one of the best defenses in the league, and was held under 50 yards. It was almost enough though, as Aaron Rodgers was on the field. He matched Kaepernick for most of the day, totaling 333 yards and three touchdowns, but did have an interception.
The defense allowed a touchdown each quarter which is not ideal, but not bad when facing a team as explosive as the Packers. There were a bevy of missed tackles that need to be addressed, but like the offensive mishaps, film study, preparation and attention to detail will correct the defensive mistakes, and they should be better next week.
Special Teams: B+
Phil Dawson was another player making his 49er debut, and after a rough start, came back to show fans that he can be relied on. After missing a makeable, but far from automatic, 48-yard field goal in the first half, the veteran came back to hit two pressure kicks, both coming in the 4th with the outcome of the game still in balance. Punter Andy Lee had his customary game, averaging 47.5 yards on his five punts, and quietly started his annual Pro Bowl Selection push.
The 49ers are 1-0, after a tough week 1 opponent. The schedule will not get any easier with the Seattle Seahawks up next, in a very hostile stadium, but San Francisco is ready for the early season battle of the NFC West. They will need to get more from the running game, but showed that even with little help from the ground game, San Francisco is still able to score points and beat an elite team. There is a lot to improve on, but a win is a win, and with no real injuries after the contest, the 49ers are right where they want to be entering week 2.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.