It was a lot closer than the post-season rout that ended last season for the Packers, but the result was the same Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers came away with a 34-28 win on opening day 2013. The 49ers just might be the best team in the NFC this year. The Packers may have closed some of the talent gap from last year, but it appears that we still have a ways to go to contend for another Super Bowl run.
The Packers were hell-bent to stop quarterback Colin Kaepernickís scrambling and the 49ers running game and they pretty much accomplished that. By halftime the Packers had held the 49ers to only 16 yards rushing. That was the good news; the bad news was that Kaepernick was just starting to shred the Packersí defensive backfield with his arm. However, Aaron Rodgers was doing much the same against the 49ers. The first half ended in a 14-14 tie with both quarterbacks throwing for two touchdowns.
The second half started with Kaepernick leading the 49ers on an 80-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a third touchdown pass over the middle. Packer defensive backs Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward didnít suit up for this game due to hamstring injuries and their absence was sorely felt. Both Packer safeties, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian, had rough games. In fact, they were torched time and time again. The defensive coaching staff seemed to make few, if any, adjustments to help them and the results were awful. Kaepernick threw for over 400 yards passing on the day, over 300 of which were to tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
The Packersí offense had its moments. Rodgers hit three touchdown passes as Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb had a productive day. Eddie Lacy had a costly fumble in the first half but somewhat redeemed himself as the game played out. The problem is the Packersí offensive line isnít currently geared nor staffed to open up holes for Lacy or anyone else to run through. That sure didnít happen versus the 49ers. All the talk during the off-season about beefing up the running attack didnít account for much Sunday.
So, why did the Packers lose this game? The reason probably was a combination of the 49ers being an elite team and the Packersí lack of depth at safety and some offensive line positions. The Packers donít have many attractive personnel options at these positions to remedy their immediate woes. Cheeseheads can hope for a speedy return of the injured players. Jennings and McMillian didnít appear to play this game with a sense of reckless abandon, unlike undrafted rookie Chris Banjo who did exactly that in his preseason play. He might be in line for a promotion.
Next week is the season home-opener in Lambeau when the Washington Redskins invade Wisconsin. That means Cheeseheads get to see one of the finest young NFL talents in all of football, Robert Griffin III. Griffin and the ďSkinsĒ are projected to be a serious threat to take their division title, so it will be another good challenge for the Green and Gold. The Lions and Bears won on Sunday so it is important for the Pack to resume their winning ways next week least they fall too far back in the Central North Division.