Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers: Week 1, at San Francisco.
Pretty boilerplate passing day from Rodgers, right down to the yardage, touchdowns and interception that bounced off Jermichael Finley’s hands, so let’s use this space to talk more about the 49ers defense. Aldon Smith picked up a sack on Rodgers’ first dropback of the season and registered another half-sack along with Ray McDonald in the fourth quarter. But in between, the 49ers’ issue from last postseason with a lack of pass rush continued on Sunday as Rodgers (sacked 51 times a year ago) was usually afforded a generous pocket to work from. Navorro Bowman also looked noticeably worse from his stellar 2012 performance, missing a number of tackles and failing to blanket receivers across the middle the same way he did last year.
On the other hand, the 49ers have to be thrilled with the way first-round pick Eric Reid played in his first game as a pro at safety. Reid was the beneficiary of Finley’s stone hands on Rodgers’ lone interception but also consistently made the right reads and forced Packers receivers to make a number of difficult catches over the middle. The Packers were able to do that because Rodgers is brilliant and his receivers are excellent, but the vast majority of the other teams on San Francisco’s schedule will be hard-pressed to make those same plays. If Reid plays the rest of the season at the same level he played Sunday, the 49ers won’t miss Dashon Goldson at all.
San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick: Week 1, vs. Green Bay.
Kaepernick’s inaccuracy was the direct cause of five incompletions by my count and Anquan Boldin’s brilliance saved a few more items from appearing on that ledger. On the other hand, it’s not like Kaepernick was dinking and dunking with two-yard out routes all day, either. Jim Harbaugh comes through the West Coast tree of offensive minds, but the 49ers’ passing attack on Sunday looked much more like an offense run by Joe Gibbs – lots of vertical shots down the field mixed with a power running game.
The power running game didn’t work out so well Sunday – the Packers likely spent all eight months studying the tape of their run defense (or lack thereof) in the playoff loss to the 49ers last January and rendered the San Francisco rushing attack completely ineffective with the exception of a brief (and important) stretch in the fourth quarter. But that commitment to stopping the run may have opened a ton of passing lanes for the Niners because Kaepernick was treated to wide open receiver after wide open receiver. Last year, it seemed like no team generated more wide open receivers than San Francisco, so it’s possible we could chalk those occurrences up more to Jim Harbaugh’s offensive mind than truly terrible pass defense from the Packers. Clearly, though, Sunday’s defensive showing from the secondary was completely unacceptable for the long haul.
Player Who Was Better Than His Stats Would Indicate
Reid. Just one game, but a really strong first game.
Player Who Was Worse Than His Stats Would Indicate
Jeremy Ross. 40 yards on three kickoff returns isn’t good to begin with, so let that be some sort of indication of how bad Ross was Sunday. When you’re catching a kickoff in the end zone, you have to either take off on a dead sprint immediately or you have to take a knee. Deliberating for any period of time back there just means you’re destined to get out to the eight-yard-line and nothing more and Ross committed that crime twice Sunday, costing the Packers really valuable field position in a very tight game.