Looking back now, it’s fair to say that the Packers problems in the regular season still remain a pressing issue.
For a Saturday of football that supposedly labeled two teams, the Packers and Broncos, the clear favorites, the exact opposite of what everyone predicted to happen failed to occur. Baltimore stole a win in overtime, while 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick proved he should have been the starter in San Francisco all season long.
The game started out well for Green Bay, though, and Kaepernick was the victim early. A first possession pick six by Sam Shields for 52-yards had the Packers up seven, but once Kapernick answered with a rushing touchdown of his own, Green Bay were never up for a shootout.
Amongst the long list of problems, Kaepernick had his way. Much of the loss falls back on the Packers defense, and while Randy Moss capitalized on short slant routes early, Kaeperneick found home in the middle of the field, with his feet.
Against Minnesota a week ago, keeping Adrian Peterson away from the outside was a problem. This weekend, keeping Kaepernick away from the hash marks proved even harder. He had 183-yards on the ground against Dom Capers defense along with two touchdowns, all thanks to great protection and perfect understanding of the read option.
As far as the Packers defense went, last weeks key playmakers were quiet. Clay Matthews had the Packers only sack of the day, but in reality was manhandled by 49ers tackle Joe Staley for most of the night – even with a sore arm.
Charles Woodson wound up with five tackles, but cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Sam Shields struggled with Michael Crabtree all night.
Of course, Kaepernick wasn’t just great on the turf. In the air he threw for 263-yards and two touchdowns, and had no problem with deep passes.
On offense the Packers found some rhythm, but special team bobbles never help anything. Jeremy Ross’ first half muffed punt cost the Packers field position and a touchdown, and when Randall Cobb stepped in to replace him, he also found it hard with his hands.
The offense also became predictable. James Jones was the target of many of Aaron Rodgers’ passes, and although that worked for 87-yards and a score, the 49ers had it all figured out by the second half.
When the going got tough after the first two quarters, Mike McCarthy also seemed to abandon the run and leave it up to Rodgers. DuJuan Harris had only 56-yards and a touchdown to his name, and received only two handoffs after the second half.
In the end, time of possession — among so many other things — killed the Packers. The 49ers had the ball for nearly 15 minutes longer than Green Bay, and managed nine more first downs.
The Packers now have an offseason to correct a list of usual problems. In a familiar trend, defense will likely be the first point of attack in this year’s draft, and while it looks like we now say goodbye to Donald Driver, the matter of Greg Jennings’ contract is also on the cards.
“We didn’t do enough on offense, and we could have helped the defense out a little bit” Rodgers told reporters after the game.
Turnovers, missed tackles and not enough of Rodgers leave the Packers 0-2 against the 49ers this season.