7

January

Game Balls and Lame Calls: 49ers 23, Packers 20

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers couldn't get past the 49ers, so their focus now shifts to 2014.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers couldn’t get past the 49ers, so their focus now shifts to 2014.

It was a different final score but the same result for the Green Bay Packers when their season clock expired Jan. 5 against the San Francisco 49ers.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick didn’t have 181 rushing yards, as he did in last year’s playoffs. But he had 98 on just seven carries.

Kaepernick fell short of the second 400-yard passing day of his career after racking up 412 in September’s season opener. But he moved the chains through the air and threw a dart to Vernon Davis for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter en route to extending his record against Green Bay to 3-0.

As things currently stand, the San Francisco 49ers of the 2010s are to the Green Bay Packers what the Dallas Cowboys were in the 1990s. Sunday’s game was a nail biter. In fact, it wasn’t decided until Phil Dawson’s field goal snuck through Davon House’s arms and inside the right goal post as time expired. But the win over the Packers was the 49ers’ fourth in two seasons. It was Green Bay’s second postseason loss to the 49ers in as many seasons.

But, top to bottom, the NFL is probably the most competitive of the major sports on a weekly basis. Anyone can beat anyone, and the Packers–yes, the same team that has allowed 132 points in its last four games against San Francisco–can beat Kaepernick and the 49ers.

They just haven’t yet.

While much of Packer Nation continues to reflect on the 2013-14 season and wonder what might have been, let’s look ahead at the future. And despite some obvious holes on the defensive side of the ball and the likely reappearance of Packer the Injury Bug, the team’s future is bright.

Because the offense has the potential to be phenomenal.

The Packers took a giant step forward this season by relying on a steady running game behind Rookie of the Year candidate Eddie Lacy. The Packers’ second-round pick shouldered the load all season, as he carried the ball at least 20 times in 10 games. Due to injuries at the quarterback position, Lacy became the focal point of the Packers’ offense, and they managed to squeak into the playoffs.

5

January

Packers vs. 49ers – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: GB 20 SF 23

hands_to_faceGreen Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers:  2013 Wild Card Round

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

GAME NOTES:

This will be the second meeting this season and the fourth in the last 16 months between the clubs. The Packers visited San Francisco in Week 1 this season, a 34-28 win for the 49ers.

Including playoffs, the Packers have won 13 of the last 17 games against the 49ers, but San Francisco has emerged victorious in the last three.

It’s cold at Lambeau Field, with temperatures in the single digits and dropping. It’s possible the temperature will remain at or above zero through most of the game, with the brutal cold arriving later in the evening. Still, wind chills will be in the minus-20 range for most of the game and possibly getting worse.

 

As per team tradition, the Packers alternated game captains each week during the regular season. The team elects captains for the entire postseason.

Today’s captains for the Packers will be WR Jordy Nelson and QB Aaron Rodgers (offense), S Morgan Burnettand LB A.J. Hawk (defense), and K Mason Crosby and CB Jarrett Bush (special teams).

 

Inactives for today’s game:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
13 WR Chris Harper
16 QB Scott Tolzien
20 CB Jumal Rolle
51 LB Nate Palmer
52 LB Clay Matthews
65 G Lane Taylor
73 C/G JC Tretter

San Francisco 49ers
22 CB Carlos Rogers
46 TE Derek Carrier
54 LB Nick Moody
62 G Ryan Seymour
71 DT Quinton Dial
78 G Joe Looney
84 WR Jon Baldwin

Startling lineup change: 26 CB Trumaine Brock starts for Rogers.

 

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Packers vs. 49ers – First Impressions – First Half:

Hope all the #Packers fans at Lambeau stay warm and BRING THE NOISE!!! #gopackgo

The Eagles’ loss to the Saints last night highlights the problems of poor run defenses. I’m hoping but not confident that the Packers can get back into their earlier season form in that regard.

Three runs to start the game, and a three-and-out. Message sent, but at what cost?

Sam Shields down… Not a good sign for the Packers.

Two fumbles so far, one by each team. Could see more of this with the weather, but who will take advantage of it?

It’s going to be a long day for the secondary, as Crabtree is wide open for the 4th down conversion.

2

January

All eyes on Packers’ linebackers against Kaepernick, 49ers

Although not on the radar before the season, outside linebacker Andy Mulumba is playing a key role for a beaten-up Packers defense as the playoffs are set to begin.

Although not on the radar before the season, outside linebacker Andy Mulumba is playing a key role for a beaten-up Packers defense as the playoffs are set to begin.

A year ago, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick set a single-game NFL record for a quarterback by rushing for 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Kaepernick totaled 444 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, as the Packers were perplexed by the 49ers’ offense throughout the game, allowing 45 points to the 49ers despite a Sam Shields pick-six in the first quarter.

The Packers’ secondary, too, had its fair share of problems, as did the defensive line, but perhaps no position group was overmatched against the 49ers’ offense more than Green Bay’s linebackers. Erik Walden signed a four-year contract worth $16 million with the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, but money can’t buy instincts, and Walden is still looking for Kaepernick almost a year after last season’s dud in the playoffs.

Entering the 2013 season, the Packers were determined to be better prepared for the 49ers offense–and specifically, Kaepernick–as a rematch was scheduled for opening weekend in San Francisco.

And the Packers got mixed results. While Green Bay was able to contain Kaepernick to just 22 yards rushing, the quarterback racked up a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry started for the Packers at outside linebacker that game and helped keep Kaepernick in the pocket, but four months later, Matthews is out with a (re)broken thumb and Perry, due to battles with injuries and subpar play, is now merely a rotational player.

Last January, Walden’s debacle against the read-option left many clamoring for Perry’s return to the lineup after he suffered a season-ending wrist injury as a rookie. Because, at the very least, the 270-pound Perry would be a significant upgrade over Walden setting the edge against the run, right?

As one Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Perry played a season-high 57 snaps (of a possible 81) against the 49ers in the season opener, but he played just 12 snaps last Sunday against the Chicago Bears in a must-win game. Mike Neal–still in his first season at outside linebacker–played 47 of 51 snaps against the Bears, and undrafted rookie Andy Mulumba played 43.

30

December

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 33, Bears 28

Eddie Lacy and Aaron Rodgers make the Packers a dangerous team in the playoffs.

Eddie Lacy and Aaron Rodgers make the Packers a dangerous team in the playoffs.

In what began as a promising year and at one point took a dive into early NFL draft talk, the Green Bay Packers’ regular season ended Sunday exactly how they’d always hoped it would. With a division championship and a spot in the NFC playoffs.

It really has been a roller-coaster year for the Packers. After two losses in their first three games, the panic button seemed to be within arm’s distance. Then, suddenly, they were 5-2 with a favorable second-half schedule. But when Aaron Rodgers went down and Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn were forced to start games for Green Bay, the team’s playoff aspirations were in serious doubt.

But the team kept playing, stayed alive and played well enough to win the division, and it’s now time for a new season to begin.

This season–the postseason–is different than the regular season. It’s a five-week season with four possible games. It doesn’t matter who was starting for each team in September or who’s been lost along the way. Right now, there are 12 teams sitting at 0-0 while the other 20 teams reflect on their season and look ahead to the offseason.

The Packers are one of those 12 teams still alive. And they have a guy who wears No. 12 who makes them a contender to win the whole thing.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers were unspectacular if not just good enough. They’re not the Seattle Seahawks, nor the Carolina Panthers or San Francisco 49ers, but they have an offense that could score enough points against any defense in the postseason.

Right now, Rodgers is leaning on one of the NFC’s most consistent running games behind Eddie Lacy and an improving offensive line, and Randall Cobb has returned to the lineup to once again give the Packers one of the league’s top receiving corps. Jarrett Boykin has stepped up in a big way in his second NFL season, and Nelson has been able to handle some slot duties, but Cobb is undoubtedly the Packers’ best playmaker in the middle of the field–an area the Packers haven’t gotten much production out of since Cobb and Jermichael Finley were injured in October.

13

September

Packers News: Matthews fined $15,000 for hit on Kaepernick

Clay Matthews admitted that his hit on Kaepernick "wasn't very smart," and he's been fined $15,000.

Clay Matthews admitted that his hit on Kaepernick “wasn’t very smart,” and he’s been fined $15,000.

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has been fined $15,000 for his hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in last Sunday’s season opener, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

Following Matthews’ hit on Kaepernick near the sideline, chaos ensued after the whistle, prompting 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to open his mouth.

“I could see two punches thrown to Joe’s head,” Harbaugh said, according to the USA Today. “Well, one punch and one open slap.”

But Harbaugh didn’t stop there. He corrected himself and threw a jab of his own in Matthews’ direction.

“If you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap,” Harbaugh said. “That young man works very hard on being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.”

If Matthews is going to take advice from anyone, it likely wouldn’t be Harbaugh who once fractured his hand in a fist fight with quarterback-turned broadcaster Jim Kelly. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy brought up Harbaugh’s comments in team meetings, while Matthews offered a short yet strong response to the 49ers controversial coach.

“I’m an awesome player, not a dirty player,” Matthews said, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

According to beat writer Tyler Dunne, Matthews reluctantly responded to the Harbaugh question after several attempts to move on to questions regarding the next game. But nonetheless, his answer was awesome. In a league polluted with “coach speak” in which athletes talk a lot but say very little, it’s refreshing to hear a high-profile athlete answer in a bold, Thad Castle-type manner.

Note: Comparing the Green Bay Packers to the Blue Mountain State Goats is foolish. Almost as foolish as calling Clay Matthews a dirty player.

Matthews, himself, admitted that he was wrong to hit Kaepernick as the quarterback neared the out of bounds line.

“It wasn’t a very smart play,” Matthews said, per the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I had already committed to hitting the quarterback, and I guess I should have figured he was going to step out of bounds.”

Nonetheless, Matthews’ reputation is certainly in much better shape that that of, say, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was fined $100,000 for his low block on Vikings center John Sullivan. But as Breer tweeted, comparing Matthews to Suh is apples-to-oranges…or apples-to-giraffes.

9

September

49ers 34, Packers 28: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Packers tight end Jermichael Finley was a positive for the Packers, except for one play that landed him on the Lame Calls list.

Packers tight end Jermichael Finley was a positive for the Packers, except for one play that landed him on the Lame Calls list.

For the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, the 2013 season opener looked a lot like how the 2012 season ended.

In January, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick racked up 181 yards on the ground, thanks in part to the read-option. The Packers schemed for Kaepernick’s legs this time around, holding him to just 22 rushing yards, but the rocket-armed quarterback did more than enough damage with his arm, throwing for a personal-best 412 yards and three touchdowns against a shorthanded secondary.

“If intimidation is your game plan, I hope you have a better one,” Kaepernick said after the game.

Losing a close Week 1 game against a team that many consider to be the best in the NFL is no reason to panic. But clearly, the Packers and 49ers don’t like each other.

Mike McCarthy was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco before becoming the head man in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers, a California native, was once bypassed by the 49ers with the No. 1 overall draft pick in favor of Alex Smith. Rodgers has risen to the NFL elite by playing with a chip on his shoulder and proving people wrong.

But as things currently stand, Rodgers is 2-3 against his hometown team with all three of those losses coming in the past 12 months.

I try really hard to avoid my Twitter timeline during Packers games, or any sporting event, for that matter. It seems like people tweet just to tweet, just like if you’re watching with your friends at a bar, there’s always one guy who talks just to talk.

And after losing three consecutive games to to the same team in one year’s span, much of the Packers’ passionate fan base erupted over Twitter far before the game had even come close to reaching its conclusion. It’s certainly not just Packers fans that do this; I’m a Packers fan myself and will never group everyone into the same group by saying, “Packers fans” are this or that.

But there are, in fact, good players on the other 31 teams, as well. The Packers came close to going undefeated in the 2011 season, but that shouldn’t be the expectation. They’re going to lose games, and opposing players are going to make good plays. It’s football.

8

September

Packers vs. 49ers – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: SF 34 GB 28

Matthews late hit on Kaepernick

Matthews late hit on Kaepernick – (Getty images)

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers:  2013 Game 1

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

 

GAME NOTES:

All eyes (or at least these) will be on the Packers offensive line. Can they keep the 49ers away from Aaron Rodgers or create some running lanes for Eddie Lacy? They are my key to the game on the field.

Off the field, Mike McCarthy has to show he and his coordinators can hang with Harbaugh and his guys. MM had his lunch absolutely handed to him by Harbaugh twice last season. Let’s see what you have, Mike.

Of the two players listed as “questionable,” Morgan Burnett is out and Brad Jones is in. Would gladly reverse those two…

 

Inactives for today:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
29 CB Casey Hayward
42 S Morgan Burnett
51 LB Nate Palmer
58 LB Sam Barrington
65 G Lane Taylor
86 TE Brandon Bostick
93 DE Josh Boyd

With Burnett out, 22 S Jerron McMillian and 43 S M.D. Jennings will be the two starting safeties.

San Francisco 49ers
5 QB B.J. Daniels
13 WR Chris Harper
23 RB LaMichael James
48 FB/DT Will Tukuafu
56 LB Nate Stupar
78 G Joe Looney
84 WR Jon Baldwin

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Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Camp: I feel like we were able to get through a lot of different concepts and packages.

Happy with young players: It’s about a football game, about the 46 we’re going to dress, it’s going to be emotional and chippy, we have to stay above that stuff.

How long to have a fee of your team: If you have the same group lining up every game, you know by the first quarter of the season who you are.

injutries: Morgan unfortuante thing that popped up late in the week, casey, Dr,. McKenzie hasn’t givenb us a timetable.

MD and McMillian – they’ve played a bunch in the preseason. Morgan has been our quarterback back there so they have to step up.

young players on OL: Well, I’m extrenmely confortable witrh them – they’re all starting today.

CK & read/optin: Colin is one of the young studs at the QB position. he can make the throws to every quadrant and of course, we’re aware of his mobility . Read/option will frankly be a non-issue today.