Packers Defense Not Built to Stop the Run

Colin Kaepernick, Packers-49ers

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was out of the Green Bay Packers’ reach all game.

Colin Kaepernick killed the Green Bay Packers defense on Saturday night. It was a one-man show, and he was unstoppable.

“We thought that passing-wise, we would be alright, regardless of how he was throwing,” said veteran safety Charles Woodson, as quoted by Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin. “What we didn’t anticipate was him running and getting out of the pocket the way he did. Those things killed us. Broke our backs.”

He also seemed to break their souls, sucking the hope right out of the defense. Every time the defense would make good stops on first and second down, Kaepernick would come right back and burn them on third-and-long. The 49ers were 8-of-13 on third down, for a 62% conversion rate.

On the eight third down conversion, each play went for at least 12 yards. In total, the 49ers made 153 yards for an average gain of 19.1 yards. Five of them were running plays, and two of them went for touchdowns. And in looking at yards-to-go, five of those eight third downs needed at least 8 yards to convert.

The big question on everyone’s mind is: Why couldn’t the Packers stop Kaepernick and his running attack? Whether it was the option read or a scramble, he gashed them repeatedly for gigantic chunks of yardage.

Many people are pointing the finger at Dom Capers, and rightly so. His play calling and game plan did nothing to stop what the 49ers were doing. In fact, it almost seemed like he was completely unprepared for what Kaepernick was capable of. Spies were used minimally, and when the blitz was called, there was no one left on the back end for clean-up duty when Kaepernick escaped.

But was it all Capers’ fault? Our own Adam Czech suggests that this problem goes beyond the defensive coordinator. San Francisco, he writes, was simply “bigger, stronger, faster and tougher than the Packers.” And he’s right. The 49ers out-muscled Green Bay’s defense the entire game.

Let’s take a trip back in time, though. Think back to last season and what we were saying about the Packers defense. While the offense was having an historic season, the defense was struggling to be even mediocre. They kept getting burned by veteran quarterbacks and made the rookies look like veterans. The defense relied on the turnover to make their stops and was otherwise a sieve through the air.