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Better late than never, let us dirty our hands in the business of recapping and over-reacting to week 1 in the NFL.
The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers played a highly entertaining game two Sundays ago, but the hopes of two cities could not have been further apart after seeing the outcome. Casual viewers were treated to a very modern NFL game complete with big gains, spectacular catches (see Jordy Carter, I mean Nelson), and very little run offense. If we delve deeper into the game though, we can find positives and negatives for both teams.
So without further ado, 5 observations that will both help and hinder both teams hopes of reaching the pinnacle of the sport, hoisting the Silver Sign of Supremacy, the Lombardi Trophy.
1. Both teams struggled to run the ball. I was not at all surprised to see the Packers struggle mightily to move the ball on the ground against a very stout 49ers defensive front. The 49ers struggling on the other hand was a bit of a shock. Even with the Packers taking a trip to College Station to study the read-option offense(which the 49ers barely ran Sunday) I expected San Francisco to be able to move the ball on the ground. Frank Gore has turned the dreaded 30, but every indication from camp was that he hasn't shown any sign of slowing down. I think it will be more important for San Francisco to run the ball effectively throughout the year as their down-the-field weapons are not of the same quality as Green Bays though that certainly wasn't the case in this matchup.
2. Special Teams could be an issue in Green Bay. Packer fans were glad to see Mason Crosby remain on the sideline the entire game now that he has relinquished his kickoff duties to Tim Masthay and he did not attempt a field goal. It remains to be seen if he has moved on from his kicking woes last season when he was last in the league in kicking accuracy. The bigger problem Sunday was Jeremy Ross returning kicks. After San Franciscos second touchdown he hesitated in the end zone then brought the kick out and only reached the 8 yard-line. That coupled with an illegal block above the waist and the Packers started at their own 4. Then again with the Packers only down 3 points Ross took a kick out of the endzone only to reach the 13 yard-line forcing the Packers to go 87 yards with just over 5 minutes left to try and claim the lead. Randall Cobb may be forced back into returning duties sooner than later, something Coach Mike McCarthy does not want to do.
3. Colin Kaepernick is the definition of Dual-threat. After preparing all off-season for a heavy dose of the read-option, Green Bay was ready to stop the run against San Francisco. Stop the run they did, but in the process they gave up over 400 yards passing to the long striding magazine cover boy who prefers to wear any other teams gear but his own(see Miami Dolphins hat). All kidding aside, Colin Kaepernick, who throws curiously like Henry Rowengartner(kidding not entirely aside), torched the Packers secondary in a way I don't think anyone outside of the 49ers organization saw coming. The Packers are a little weak in the secondary at present with injuries to Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward, but it is supposed to be one of their deepest positions. How do you defend a guy and can out run everyone on the field and throw a 70mph seam route?
4. Jim Harbaugh has a big mouth. I don't expect Jim to like the fact that Clay Matthews took his quarterback down with a flying clothesline that probably made every member of the WWE green with envy, but to call out the guys toughness because he didn't "come with some knuckles" is out of line. I understand that Jim's opinion of himself has become inflated now that he is a leader of men, but he played quarterback. I played quarterback in high school, and I don't want to sound like I'm comparing myself to an NFL coach, but we don't have to be all that tough, we're quarterbacks.
5. John did his brother Jim a huge favor. The Baltimore Ravens traded their best receiver to the 49ers for a 6th round pick. How many 6th round picks have 13 receptions and 208 yards receiving in a year? That's what Anquan Boldin did in one game against the Packers. Here's a list of WR's taken in the 6th round of this years draft. Corey Fuller, Ryan Swope, Justin Brown, Alan Bonner, and Cobi Hamilton. I follow college football pretty closely and the only name on that list I recognize is Swope and that's probably only because he played with Johnny Manziel. With Michael Crabtree out Boldin will be a key contributor to the 49er offense this season. Great job by their front office.
Since winning and losing this game both teams have gone on to do the opposite in Week 2 and sit at 1-1. It's a long season and both have issues that need to be resolved in order to make a push to the Super Bowl, but these are clearly two of the top teams in the NFC and NFL and should they meet again in the Playoffs I see no reason why it shouldn't be another spectacular game.