In the aftermath of the Packers’ loss to the 49ers, there were fingers pointing in every direction. If you were a Packer, there was no escape from the scrutiny, whether it was deserved or not.
Players, coaches, GMs, scouts, everyone except the owners were raked over the coals (we never do anything wrong, right?).
But in reality, and despite the final score, this was a game that midway through the third quarter was still tied. This despite the offense hardly being on the field in the first half.
This also despite the Packers’ gift of two turnovers which resulted in 14 points for the 49ers. You could easily make the case that those were the “two things” I alluded to in the title. But it’s not.
There are, in fact, two reasons the Packers are not travelling to Atlanta for the NFC Championship game. They both happen to be attached to be attached to Colin Kaeprnick’s body: They are his legs.
There is little doubt in my mind that if Alex Smith were quarterbacking the 49ers on Saturday night, we would not be listening to season-ending press conferences this week. We would not be hearing chants of “Fire Capers,” and “Our defense still sucks.”
You hear the term “favorable down and distance” a lot. Mike McCarthy uses it a lot. Any NFL coach will tell you that maintaining favorable down and distance improves your chances of winning dramatically. Especially on third down.
The Packers defense (the one that improved greatly this season but seemingly everyone now thinks is so awful), were able to put the 49ers into unfavorble down and distance on third down a total of eight times in the first half. EIGHT TIMES the 49ers were looking at third down distances of 8 to 12 yards.
Think about that a bit. Does that sound like a “horrible” defense? Any defense would take that performance in a heartbeat, knowing that they would probably get off the field at least six times out of those eight.
Instead, five times Colin Kaepernick’s legs kept the ball in the 49ers hands and kept the Packers’ offense off the field.