Kaep-ped - 49ers: 45 Packers: 31
Pick your pejorative. They all fit the Green Bay Packers in regard to their Saturday evening performance against the San Francisco 49ers.
In a game that saw the Packers handed seven points right out of the gate, they somehow managed to allow a record setting night from their oh-so-gracious hosts.
Seriously, has anyone been happier to see someone show up at their doorstep than the 49ers were for the Packers tonight? Green Bay is known to have trouble with running quarterbacks. The 49ers have one of the best running quarterbacks alive. The Packers are also known to have trouble against athletic pass rushers. Well, San Francisco possesses athletic pass rushers in spades.
Cast the blame where you will. Dom Capers was slow to adjust his strategy in his first half. Erik Walden and Brad Jones were slow to react to Colin Kaepernick's read option running. Jeremy Ross was slow to realize that catching the ball is a vital part of being a punt returner. Basically everything about this team was slow...far, far too slow to keep up with a fleet-footed quarterback and a physical defense.
And a word about Capers, before anything else. Facebook and Twitter are already lighting up with the "fire Dom Capers" chants, and it needs to be stressed that Capers has done a remarkable job this year. Green Bay rallied from one of the worst defenses in the league to a respectable unit. Sure, they got torched by Kaepernick. But the '85 Bears might not have been able to slow him down the way he played Saturday.
In sum, there's really not much to say about this one in the way of analysis. The flaws of this Packer team are readily apparent. How and why they lost this game is also easy to see. All that's left is a little time to lick the wounds and a long offseason to rebuild for next year.
Aaron Rodgers (26/39, 257 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) - Rodgers looked mortal tonight, but he still played well enough to keep the Packers relatively close, at least until Colin Kaepernick morphed into his superhuman phase. If only they could give him protection against a solid defensive line.
DuJuan Harris (11 carries, 53 yards; 2 catches, 11 yards) - Though it didn't have much of an impact beyond the first quarter or so, Harris had a quiet, solid performance on his 11 carries. Should the Packers have kept it closer, it might have been interesting to see how he would have done against a formidable 49er defense.
James Jones (4 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD) - The only of the Packers' top four receivers to stay healthy for the entire season, Jones was his usual self tonight. Jones' physical play at receiver opened a lot of eyes this season, and he was one of the only quality performers on Saturday.
300 - Rushing yards accumulated by Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore. It was nice of them to contain their domination of the Packers' defense to such a nice, round number.
207 - Offensive yardage differential between the 49ers (579 total) and
100 - Percentage of kicks made by Mason Crosby, who ended the season making his final five field goal attempts. Hooray for small positives!
Three One Good
Cobb Uninjured - At least Randall Cobb didn't get hurt covering one of those dangerous punts or kicks! Gotta save him for other things. (Please note the sarcasm.)
Goodbye, Greg - Greg Jennings has likely played his final game in a Packer uniform, with his contract expiring this offseason and seemingly no real movement from the Packers to bring him back. Jennings has been extremely productive as a Packer, and he'll probably go down as one of Ted Thompson's better draft picks. If you'll recall, Jennings was selected with a pick acquired from the Denver Broncos in the Javon Walker trade. 425 catches, 6,537 yards, and 53 touchdowns later, that trade seems to have worked out.
Goodbye, Donald - Though he was active, Donald Driver didn't see any meaningful action on Saturday, likely meaning this, too, was his final game in a Packer uniform. Driver (as we've previously discussed) is the Packers' career leader in just about every conceivable receiving category, and will go down as an all-time great in the organization.
Goodbye, Dom...? - I do not accept the argument that Dom Capers is entirely responsible for Green Bay's defensive ills. While he was slow to adjust in the first half, the Packers' defensive execution was pathetically awful. Time and time again, the Packers' outside linebackers were victimized by Kaepernick and the read option. Should Vince Lombardi have lurched his way out of his grave and somehow made it to Candlestick Park, I'm not sure even he could have willed this unit to victory.
Up Next - A long, long offseason. But hey, the NFL Draft is in April!