Maybe Old South Side guy will finally come around.
It was a defensive effort that reminded me of the Jets trip on Halloween five years ago (a 9-0 shutout during the Super season); the Pack completely shut down Colin Kaepernick, Carlos Hyde and the 49ers en route to their first 4-0 start in four years.
Hyde came into the game averaging 87 yards a game and ran for 187 against the Vikings in his only home game. The Packers D held him to 20 yards on eight carries. He wasn’t a factor.
Neither were Kaepernick’s legs–sure, he scampered for 57 yards on ten carries, but most of those came when the pocket broke down and he was running for his life. Once again the pass rush dominated, registering six sacks to give them 13 in the past six days. Kaepernick looks nothing like the dual threat he was a few years ago. His accuracy has deserted him, as has his confidence. He looks lost–wouldn’t surprise me if the team goes in a different direction at QB next year.
It was one of those rare road games where you never really felt like the Pack was in trouble, even though the score was close for much of the game. After a solid opening drive that was triggered by a 49ers penalty that prevented a three and out, the offense sputtered through the rest of the first half, punctuated by Mason Crosby’s first missed field goal of th year.
But the game turned early in the third quarter, when on third and long Aaron Rodgers heaved one down the sidelines in the general vicinity of James Jones whose highlight reel snatch was good for 38 yards, putting the Packers in the red zone. A Rodgers dance down the sideline and a John Kuhn plunge and the Pack had a two touchdown cushion.
That drive was the exception on an afternoon when the 49ers defense made things uncomfortable for the Pack. The usually reliable offensive line gave up as many sacks (three) as they had all season and Rodgers was hurried throughout the day. The unit will need to play much better next weekend when the Rams visit, with maybe the best defensive line in the league. They had a hard time keeping the pocket clean on this day and I think every lineman save Linsley was flagged for holding.
As brilliant as Rodgers has been all season, the lack of experienced receivers has shown. Losing Nelson and Adams has taken some of the explosiveness out of the passing game. I shudder to think where they’d be without James Jones. With the 49ers playing most of the game with two deep safeties, they basically dared the Packers to run and they rode a healthier Eddie Lacy who smashed his way for 90 yards on five yards a carry.
One quarter of the season is in the books and there is much to like about this team early. Despite a plethora of injuries, the team has been mostly dominant on both sides of the ball. With the Rams and Chargers coming to town before what will be a much needed bye, the Pack should find themselves poised to remain the favorite in a top heavy NFC.