I had a thought while sitting in the AT&T Park press box, watching the San Francisco 49ers play the Green Bay Packers. It was on the tip of my tongue, but no one was around. Then Alex Smith sliced the Packers’ secondary to pieces on a 9-play, 92-yard drive that finished with a Randy Moss touchdown.
10-0 lead, and finally I had someone sitting next to me. “This could be a severe ass-kicking,” I said. The writer who I uttered this to was incredulous. “The Packers are good. This will come down to the end.”
Maybe we were both right.
The 49ers were better in every way than the Packers at Lambeau Field, for the first time since Don Majkowski started at quarterback for Green Bay. And while the replacement referees made awful calls in favor of both teams, the most detrimental lapse in judgment came when a flag was picked up — even though Anthony Dixon was shoved in the back as clearly as a player can be shoved in the back — on a Randall Cobb punt return for a touchdown that completely changed the game.
But I’m not going to let this post devolve into a rant about the replacements and how Roger Goodell needs to stop with this greedy charade. I think Jim Harbaugh said it best when he yelled, “BULLCRAP!” (Check out a fantastic .GIF on Harbaugh’s outburst from our friend Bill Hanstock over at SB Nation.)
The rest of this game, despite the refs and 3rd-and-long conversions on both sides, came up HARBAUGH. That’s a word one can use to describe something good, right? If not, it should be.
Who’s got better notes than these? Nobody!
– Alex Smith: 8.1 yards per attempt.
– Aaron Rodgers: 6.9 yards per attempt.
– Watching Smith with three good wide receivers was pretty fun, wouldn’t you say? 20-for-26, and one of those incompletions was a drop by Delanie Walker.
– Watching Michael Crabtree with two good wide receivers was pretty fun, wouldn’t you say? 7 receptions for 76 yards, and the touchdowns will come.
– A 63-yard field goal for David Akers, who reacted perfectly. I can’t remember seeing a team look so jubilant after a field goal that didn’t win the game. Not that I blame them — combine the NFL record-tying distance with the ball doinking up and over, then throw in the fact that the 49ers looked so much better than Green Bay in the first half, and you have a pretty fantastic highlight.
– Pretty impressive that Akers bounced that kick over the crossbar, seeing as Vernon Davis couldn’t dunk over the other one.
– Those who proclaimed that Frank Gore (16 rushes, 112 yards and long touchdown run that included a pirouette and some tiptoeing along the sideline) was near the end need to knock it off. He just needed help in the form of Kendall Hunter (9 carries, 41 yards, in the expanded role I pictured for him earlier in the week) and receivers that make it impossible to stack the box every play.
– Chris Culliver’s play to end the game was phenomenal. So was Ahmad Brooks’ Spiderman-like flying sack on Rodgers (which caused millions of 49ers fans to hold their breaths, waiting for a “BULLCRAP” roughing the passer call that thankfully never came).
– If Donte Whitner would’ve made that late INT, this game would’ve been a lot less nerve-wracking. And have I mentioned how wonderfully this brie and chardonnay pair together?
– Fantasy tip: Greg Jennings might not be the same guy for the rest of this year. Dashon Goldson might kill someone this year. Seriously.
– I have to look at the replay to see what the hell happened between Perrish Cox and Jermichael Finley in the end zone. Nice job by Finley, faking that ankle injury in an attempt to get a red card for Cox. Oh wait, wrong football.
– The 49ers’ entire defense, already known to be the strength of what now is clearly a very, very good team, should be extremely proud of their overall effort and performance. Nobody shuts out the Packers, especially at home. Allowing 15 points to Green Bay’s offense is like shutting out any of the other NFC West teams.
– Aldon Smith looked like an absolute beast early (what a horrible unsportsmanlike call when he pushed his helmet off after his chinstrap slid halfway up his face after sacking Rodgers), but it was the coverage unit that shined. Several times Rodgers had to buy time with his legs, often ending plays by giving up and throwing the ball out of bounds.
– If NaVorro Bowman isn’t first-team All-Pro again … I can’t come up with anything clever, which is fine because this scenario will not occur.
– The 49ers even had Colin Kaepernick run up the gut for 17 yards, a move that means opposing defensive coordinators now have to fit in at least an hour of practice simply to prepare for this offensive wrinkle. Kaepernick’s huge grin afterwards was hilarious. “You can’t stop me!”
– Tip of the cap to: Clay Matthews, who gave Joe Staley fits. Now that Charles Woodson is on the downside of his career, Matthews is the one guy on the Packers’ defense that frightens people.
– The 49ers outgained the Packers. They won the turnover and time of possession battles. The Niners’ rushing offense and defense both look elite (if anything, the 49ers may have passed too often in the second half). They made fewer mistakes, yet they also played in a more physical manner. The 49ers are a complete team. The Packers, while explosive as all get out, are not. It was simply an outstanding win, the opposite of that well-known phrase, “closer than the score indicated.”
– The 49ers saw the weaknesses in their personnel — mostly in the areas of WR and CB depth — and fixed them. The coaching staff and Trent Baalke deserve kudos, as do the players. Suddenly, the 49ers’ killer schedule doesn’t look quite as daunting.