A Quasi-Live Blog on the NFL's Game of the Week

-- by Adam Hocking



For the Packer fans that want to blame the refs and not the fact that they plain got beat, let’s get this out of the way first: the blown call by refs was bad, but it was initially a bad call to assess offsetting penalties.  Clay Matthews committed an obvious late hit, and Joe Staley did what any lineman would; he got in Matthews’ face for a cheap shot on his quarterback. Staley got tagged for a personal foul, but looking back at it, he did nothing. Matthews took a swing at him. It really should have been first and goal for the 49ers. The very thing that Packers faithful want to blame this game on should have actually been a worse result for them. Yes, the called penalty properly enforced would have made it 4th and 2 down close to the goal line instead of 3rd and 6, and maybe the Niners still go for it and pick it up, or maybe they kick the field goal. Either way they still won by 6 points.

Eric Reid is a player: long, rangy, fast, hits with force and speed, good playmaking skills (2 picks, one nullified by offside). My wife even said, “Eric Reid is really a rock star, holy crap,” and she doesn’t even know what position he plays or what a safety is. That’s the true test to see if you are a good player. If my wife notices you, you are either great or making some very visible mistakes.

David Bakhtiari is doing OK with Smiths Aldon and Justin. He’s gotten beaten at times, but he is competing and would not be considered a glaring weakness.

Aaron Rodgers has the Niners in his head because they don’t disguise much. They just rush four, cover, and trust their personnel to win their matchups. He ended up having a very good but not all-time Rodgers-type of game: 333 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a pick. The only real knock on the Packers offense is they just can’t possess the ball like San Francisco can.

Nhamdi Asougmha is fine if he gets a good jam, but otherwise he looks clumsy with the ball in the air and stiff tackling in space.

The Niner offensive line is excellent in pass protection. It probably gets more acclaim as a run blocking, mauling unit because of their size, but out of the full house backfield and read option looks Colin Kaepernick hardly ever gets touched.

Kaepernick hardly ran the ball, threw for 412 yards, 3 touchdowns, and zero picks. This is the same guy that can run for 181 yards in a playoff game. Be afraid, be very afraid. With his arm strength Kaepernick can make throws 95% of quarterbacks can’t. He’s got great protection, great accuracy, and all-world mobility.  And Jim Harbaugh in his ear all day every day. The sky might not be a high enough limit.

Green Bay’s long run of the day mid-third quarter is 3 yards. The Niners are vulnerable to Rodgers—like everyone—but largely shut down the Packers run game. The Green Bay run defense really looked good, but the pass defense played poorly. Green Bay ran 19 times for 63 yards, and the Niners rushed 34 times for 90 yards. The Niners were more committed, which kept Rodgers off the field, but they didn’t open many holes.

Anquan Boldin has been, is, and will be underrated all the way into the eventual Hall of Fame. 13 catches, 208 yards, 1 touchdown, every fantasy owner that realized Kap tends to throw half his balls to his number one receiver—whether it’s Boldin today or Michael Crabtree last year—is smiling.

My fantasy team sucks already, again.

Haven’t heard “Patrick Willis” or “NaVorro Bowman” called much and I didn’t hear much of them all game. Bowman made a great play on a late third down where he dove and broke up a potential Green Bay first down pass. Bowman finished with 8 tackles and Willis with 7. Bowman continues to make more flash plays and be around the ball more. If you asked a knowledgeable Niner fan on truth serum, they would take Bowman over Willis.

Rodgers does a little read option himself, scampers for a first down, and then is barking afterward, which draws a flag from the Niners. This guy wants to kill San Fran. There aren’t many teams that have gotten the best of Rodgers and Green Bay.

Jermichael Finley is a freak of nature, but he just seems like an overemotional guy. I think that might be his source of mistakes, drops, et cetera. He is so talented, and he knows it. He is overeager to dominate. If he settles in and just trusts Rodgers, he could have a historic year.

Vernon Davis goes for 6 catches, 98 yards, and 2 scores on nine targets. That is music to Niner fans’ ears who have wanted more involvement from him the last couple of years. So much for the Kaepernick-Davis chemistry gap.

The 49ers have struggled with the play clock throughout the Harbaugh era. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because of complexity of formations.

What a play by clay Matthews to see the read option then track down Kaepernick and make an explosive tackle on him. Much shit talked afterward, this feels like an NFC title game. Green Bay is clearly frustrated with San Francisco’s style and size, and they want to prove they can beat this team.

The moment is never too big for Kaepernick. Rodgers marches Green Bay down the field and takes lead 28-24. Kap brings them right back, 31-28 Niners.

Rodgers is compensating somewhat for his line by doing some quick release throws to allow yard after catch opportunities and neutralize the Niner pass rush. This cannot continue to be the story, that Rodgers has to do too many things to make up for an average line, a lack of a running game, and an up-and-down defense. Although, when holes were open running back Eddie Lacy looked like a good, physical prospect.

Holy crap, Eric Reid flies on the screen and tackles Rodgers on a scramble. He is just flashing all over the field. If he continues to play like this, I’ll be glad San Francisco didn’t pay Dashon Goldson $40 million.

The Niners have second round pick Tank Carradine, Mario Manningham, LaMichael James, and maybe later Crabtree waiting in the wings to return.

Final Takeaway

Both teams looked like heavyweights, but the Niners’ perceived advantages proved insurmountable. They have the better coaching staff, they were able to ride the running game at least for balance and clock management, and their front seven is so imposing against the run. Both teams played extremely well. You could easily look at this as a quarterback duel, and Colin Kaepernick beat Aaron Rodgers…from the pocket…oh boy.

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Image from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwhartwig/9718526046/in/set-72157635464014192