Kaeper-nick of Time! Niners Pull Away From Packers Late
Another year and another article. It has been a while since I’ve dusted off the ol’ laptop to express my opinion on the greatest sport invented. Just so happens to be that my love for the Packers prevails and I find it as my public servitude to let you know about the game. Some may be surprised on my take, others not, although I will preface it by saying I am a Green Bay Packers fan, but declare myself a football fan first.
The memories of last year’s playoff defeat to the Niners have been buried with liters and liters of Jameson whiskey. The Packers and their fans have been preparing for the rematch with Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco since that final whistle blew over 7 months ago. None more than Dom Capers defense and their new captain Clay Matthews. The thor-like LB made the media rounds before the game and told the world that to stop the read-option that allowed Kaepernick to break the QB rushing record, the team needed to apply more pressure. One play in itself has been blown far out of proportion.
Matthews was charging at Colin Kaepernick as the QB scrambled towards the sideline. Clay jumped from his feet before Kaep was out of bounds and exploded on the QB taking him to the ground and getting a flag for a late-hit. Following football logic, Niners offensive lineman Joe Staley came to his QB’s side and confronted the Packers LB. Somehow the refs missed some of Matthews retaliation and there was an off-setting call on Staley. It very easily could have been another penalty on Clay and a first and goal for San Francisco.
It shouldn’t have been a replay of third down however, as the penalties were both assessed at the end of the 3rd down scamper. In this scenario the penalties should have led to a 4th and 2. That is chaos theory though and Claymaker was all jacked up for this game and nearly blew it with his emotions. Luckily, he wasn’t called for a taunting penalty when he stuffed Kaepernick deep in the pocket on a perfectly read read-option. The Packers plan was to stop the run and send a message.
It seems that Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the Niners had a game-plan of their own. Rather than burn Green Bay with his legs, Kaep did it with his arm, something he had yet to showcase in his young NFL career. Let me remind you that after yesterday’s start, Colin has started in just 11 games, including his run to the Super Bowl last year.
Colin had never thrown for more than 276 yards in the regular season, he threw for a then career high 302 yards in his Super Bowl loss to the Ravens. In his first 10 starts he had thrown the ball 30+ times in just 3 games, one of them being the playoff match against Green Bay. Kaepernick had thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game just 4 times and had just 1 game with more than 2. The Packers were ready for a run-heavy offense and they weren’t prepared for what happened.
I can make a bunch of excuses, and believe me I will, but despite all of that whether or not the Packers won or lost this game does not matter. What happened on the field may have left a terrible taste in the mouths of many at the end of last season, but at the beginning of this one Green Bay should rally around this moral victory. The Packers were ready for the run, more importantly the read-option and when San Fran steered away from the running game Green Bay was ill-prepared.
Colin Kaepernick is a special QB and proved that once again Sunday as he threw for his first career regular season game of 300 or more yards. It also turned out to be his first career game with over 400 yards passing, on a career high 39 attempts. He and the Niners became the beneficiaries of an older brother’s discarded toy. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh dealt playoff star Anquan Boldin to the Niners for essentially nothing, but lets call it a 6th round pick to be correct.
After Michael Crabtree tore his ACL this off-season San Fran was in need of a big reliable target like Boldin. Kaepernick found him 13 times for 208 yards and a touchdown but it was his 4th down catch that secured a 6 point victory. Just once has Boldin had more receiving yards in his career, it came 150 games earlier in his NFL debut with the Cardinals and he had 3 less catches for 9 more yards. It was embarrassing how often Colin found Q, Green Bay knew it was coming but couldn’t stop it. They were without Casey Hayward and Morgan Burnett due to injury and lost future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson this off-season but nobody expected this type of performance from Colin Kaepernick.
They probably should have though, as it is no surprise that this former pitcher can sling a pigskin. Kaep that off with the fact that the kid nearly rushed for 200 yards against this team the last time they met. Like what I did there?
The 49ers ran the ball 34 times and accumulated just 90 yards. Take away the 15 yard long run for CP and he had just 7 rushing yards on 6 other attempts. Frank Gore ran the ball 21 times for just 44 yards but it was his 1 yard touchdown that was the deciding factor. Despite the fumble by Eddie Lacy, a dropped Jermichael Finley pass that turned into an interception and a blown call by the officiating crew, Green Bay had another chance to take the lead. Jeremy Ross may or may not have taken that chance away when he decided to take the ensuing kickoff, after Gore’s go ahead TD, by returning it to the 9 yard line.
Another three and out by A-Rodge and the offense, their sixth of the game, and Green Bay’s fate was all but set. Rodgers had a good game, throwing for 333 yards, 3 touchdowns and the 1 interception that fell out of his TE’s hands. He did however complete just 56% of his 37 passes and the offensive line looked shaky yet again. We must remember that San Francisco is the cream of the crop in the NFC and possibly the NFL. Many believe it may be the Seattle Seachickens, don’t bring that up, but when the Seahawks put up just 12 points against the Carolina Panthers and eeked away with a victory it seems clear to me. With the dual-threat of a running QB that can pass, on top of a stellar defense, the Niners are and should be the favorite.
That being said I am coming away from this game pleased and think that if these two teams face off against one another in the post-season for the 2nd straight year, Green Bay will be better prepared. They were so close to sneaking this one out in enemy territory with just a couple of non-sense preseason games under their belt.