Anquan Impresses- If Anquan Boldin wanted to show the fans of the San Francisco 49ers that he only brings his A-Game to work, he more than succeeded. In an individual performance that may have rivaled a day at the office for Jerry Rice, Boldin had 13 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown as the 49ers held on to edge the Green Bay Packers 34-28. It was Boldin's first game in a 49ers uniform having last appeared in San Francisco as a member of the Arizona Cardinals in 2009. Meanwhile 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns in his best passing game as a professional. As it turned out, the 49ers needed every inch of those 412 passing yards as the ground game was for the most part shut down by the Green Bay defense.
A Game That Lived Up To It's Billing- The 49ers and Packers traded punches all afternoon at Candlestick Park, sometimes literally (more on that later). The 49ers opened up the scoring on their second possession of the afternoon as Kaepernick lead a 13 play, 81 yard drive capping it off with a 20 yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. On the first play of the drive, Frank Gore was caught behind the line and thrown for a seven yard loss. After that play the 49ers offense got into gear quickly and were effectively able to move the ball on the Packers defense. However the 7-0 lead only lasted for about a minute in and a half as Green Bay answered with a quick six play 80 yard drive of their own to tie the game before the first quarter had ended. Aaron Rogers, who on the day was 21 of 37 for 333 yards and three touchdowns, capped the Green Bay scoring drive with a short 5 yard TD pass to Randall Cobb.
The 49ers answered back in the second quarter that a drive that would end in some controversy. It was a short drive that started after the 49ers defense recovered a fumble by Green Bay's rookie running back Eddie Lacy on the Packers 14 yard line. NaVarro Bowman on his tackle of Lacy was able to force the fumble. On a third down play Kaepernick rolled out to his left to try and beat Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews Jr to the first down marker. Matthews won the race forcing Kaepernick run out of bounds shy of the first down. In doing so, Matthews kept pursuing Kaepernick and put a late hit on him out of bounds drawing a penalty that would have given the 49ers a first and goal on the Green Bay two yard line. However the 49ers offensive lineman Joe Staley went over to defend Kaepernick and let Matthews know he did not appreciate the late hit. The two started to throw punches at one another and Staley drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that would negate Matthews penalty. However, instead of being 4th and 2, the 49ers caught a break as the officials errantly ruled the play was nullified and San Francisco instead had a third and six again. Kaepernick made the most of this governors reprieve and hit Boldin on a crossing route which resulted in a 10 yard touchdown pass giving the 49ers a 14-7 lead.
The 49ers on the next series appeared to catch a huge break when rookie Eric Reid made his first career interception on a pass from Rogers that deflected off of Cobb. Before Reid could get up and run with the football (taking it all the way to the Packers 3 yard line), Cobb had the presence of mind to reach out and slap Reid's calf. Because of this, the 49ers had the ball on their own 44, not the Green Bay three yard line. The 49ers would drive for 21 yards before asking kicker Phil Dawson to kick a 48 yard field goal which was missed wide left. After the missed field goal the Packers got right back to work and did work on the 49ers defense. Rogers led Green Bay on what would be a seven play 69 yard drive capped off by an 12 yard pass to Jermichael Finley to tie before halftime at 14-14.
A Second Half of Elevated Football- The 49ers took the opening kickoff of the second half and got to work on regaining the lead. Kaepernick with all guns blazing led the 49ers on a well organized nine play 80 yard drive. The 49ers would regain the lead at 21-14 when Kaepernick would find Davis in the end zone for the second time, this time a short 2 yard pass that gave San Francisco the lead again. The two teams then traded defensive three and out stands before Green Bay would again regain possession and keep the 49ers defense at bay. Rogers in this drive pretty much repeated what Kaepernick had done for the 49ers moments earlier in leading an eight play 62 yard quest to the end zone. This quest for the Packers was completed when Rogers found Jordy Nelson in the 49ers end zone for an eight yard game tying touchdown. The 49ers would answer the Packers scoring drive with one of their own, a 10 play 71 yard series that carried over into the fourth quarter. Phil Dawson kicked his first official field goal as a member of the 49ers, a 27 yard kick to give San Francisco a three-point lead just 43 seconds into the final quarter.
After Dawson's field goal, the two teams again traded three and out series before the Packers would get possession of the football and again give the 49ers defense a lot of fits. Rogers would again lead Green Bay on an eight play 76 yard journey deep into San Francisco territory. The key play in the drive was a phenomenal catch by Nelson who caught a pass for 31 yards where he barely had both feet in bounds and there was really nothing the 49ers could do to defend the play. A few moments later Lacy would run the ball in from two yards out to give the Packers a 28-24 lead with 8:50 remaining. From there the 49ers got off of the deck and showed their determination to win this game. Kaepernick and company responded with a five play 80 yard drive capped by a one yard touchdown run by Gore to help the 49ers regain the lead at 31-28. Key plays in this series was Kaepernick completing a 43-yard pass to Boldin, followed by Kendal Hunters' 20 yard scamper deep into Green Bay territory.
The defense now had the tough and unenviable assignment of stopping Aaron Roger one more time. The defensive unit, which had absorbed a number of gut punches from the Packers offensive units all day long, held strong this time and were able to get the Packers off the field on a three and out that was critically needed. The 49ers would then take control of the football after forcing a Packers punt and get on a drive that would eat away a significant amount of time off of the game clock. With exactly three minutes remaining, the 49ers had a fourth and two from the Green Bay 36. On a play call that was quite gutsy, Kaepernick called Boldin's number once again and hit him with a 10 yard pass completion that allowed the 49ers to keep possession of the football. After stalling on three plays, two of which came after the two minute warning, the 49ers chose to have Dawson kick his second field goal of the day to give San Francisco a six point lead with 26 seconds remaining.
After Dawson's second field goal of the afternoon, he then sent the kickoff out of the end zone allowing Green Bay to set up their last gasp shop at their own 20 yard line. On the first play of Rogers final series, he hit Cobb with a 35 yard pass downfield putting Green Bay in position to take one shot at the end zone. However, as Cobb was trying to get out of bounds to stop the game clock Donte Whitner made a very heads up play knocking down Cobb before he could get out of bounds. With the ball on the 49ers 45 yard line, Rogers with no time outs was able to spike the football giving him one last play with seven seconds remaining. With the 49ers in a total prevent package, Rogers got a very quick rush by the 49ers three up front linemen and was forced to throw the ball to a check down receiver who would have then had to go through a 40 yard gauntlet to the end zone. However, the quick pass by Rogers never got to Lacy and the game ended just in time for the 49ers.
Stats- Anquan Boldin with 208 receiving yards today now owns the 49ers franchise record for most receiving yards on opening day. Green Bay's defensive game plan was not to allow Colin Kaeperick to run free like he did in January when he picked up 181 yards on his own. Kaepernick only had 22 yards on the ground in 7 carries. Frank Gore did not fare much better statistically as he was held to 44 yards on 21 carries. Kendall Hunter had 24 yards on six carries. Aside from Boldin's performance, Vernon Davis had 6 catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Williams had three passes caught for 36 yards caught while Gore out of the backfield caught two passes for 21 yards. 49ers rookie receiver Quinton Patton did not play today. The 49ers defense struggled with Rogers who was not afraid of keeping the ball in the air. However, the 49ers defense did have a somewhat successful day in holding the Packers ground game to a minimum as Green Bay only picked up 63 yards on the ground, with 41 coming from Eddie Lacy. Jordy Neslon and Randall Cobb caught seven passes each for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Jermichael Finley had five catches for 56 yards and a TD.
Defense- Aldon Smith collected one and a half sacks of Rogers, the other sack was split with Ray McDonald. NaVarro Bowman and Donate Whitner had seven tackles each, while Eric Reed had six and Patrick Willis had five. Both Smith's, Aldon and Justin, assisted on five tackles.
What Needs Work- The 49ers defense got stretched by Rogers all day long and they will need to find away to shore that up. Then again, give credit to Rogers who has the ability to do that to any defense (not just the 49ers). Also two personal foul penalties from seasoned vets, one in the heat of the moment, the other took place on three Green Bay sideline and was unseen by the FOX broadcast. Obviously the two veteran players know better and likely wont let that happen again. Also, maybe it would have been advisable for the 49ers to instead of kicking that last field goal with 26 seconds left to instead go ahead and run a play. It was fourth down and four yards to go. If they didn't get the first down, they would have still been able to take more time off of the game clock and maybe give Rogers an 88 yard field with about 15 seconds left and no time outs. Just a thought there.
Next 49ers Game- The 49ers next game can be billed simply by saying "This Time, It's Personal." The 49ers return to Seattle where last December the Seahawks won in completely dominating fashion 42-13. The game frankly wasn't even that close. Many in the Seahawk fandom community labled that game as that game as "The Body Bag Game West". The 49ers Vernon Davis was knocked out of the game and several of the 49ers who played came out of Seattle fairly banged up making a first round bye for San Francisco somewhat imperative. The Seahawks also accomplished the act of officially becoming the 49ers arch rival in the NFC West. Just as the case was last year, the game will again be carried on NBC's Sunday Night Football. The 49ers opened as three point underdogs in this game. The Seahawks opened their season Sunday in Charlotte, NC with a 12-7 win over the Carolina Panthers. The 49ers will probably want to review the game tape there and see what Carolina did to stymie Russell Wilson and Company for most of the afternoon. As for the 42-13 game last December, that was last year! It's now officially "Seattle Week" for the 49ers.
Fun Irony- Kaepernick, who went to high school in Turlock, California, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (105 miles south of Green Bay); Aaron Rogers was born in Chico, Calif., (205 miles northeast of San Francisco) ...
The Golden Gate Report: The Final World on San Francisco 49ers Football (except for when Head Coach Jim Harbaugh speaks).