Sunday, January 13, 2013

49ers Rout Packers, Headed to Atlanta

Well, after that third play from scrimmage to start the game which ended up a pick-six for Green Bay on a horrible decision from the young QB, I'm sure plenty of 49er fans had their doubts about this game. But instead of letting that turnover set the tone for the game though, Colin Kaepernick brushed it right off and put together one of the best games of his life.

There was so much made about whether the sophomore quarterback would be up to the task of beating the Packers with just a handful of starts under his belt and after that first series, I know I was wondering whether  or not this was too big a stage for the youngster. The key for Kaepernick came on the very next drive though, as he was able to erase some of those early game jitters with a beautiful touch pass over a defender to Frank Gore that Gore ended up taking for a huge gain. That led to a Kaepernick TD run, and the rest was really history. Although the Packers did regain the lead briefly on a DuJuan Harris TD run, that was the last lead Green Bay had Saturday afternoon, as the 49ers defense tightened up their play and the offense really set the tone for the game. The key to the game coming if was for Kaepernick and the 49ers offense to limit the mistakes and avoid turnovers to ensure the Packers offense stayed on the sidelines. They executed that part perfectly, and did more offensively than I was anticipating. Instead of the conservative, ball-control offense I was expecting from the Niners, we saw the playbook open up and cater to Kaepernick's strength's. When looking at the box score, of course, his 16 carries, 181 rushing yards and 2 TD's will jump out at you, but his conversions on third down, whether he was running or throwing, was what really impressed me.

The up-and-coming gun-slinger couldn't have had the success he did though without some help though. Michael Crabtree put on a clinic vs. the Packers' secondary, catching 9 balls for 119 yards and two scores. He and 'Kaep have had an uncanny rapport since Kaepernick took over the quarterback job, and looked a bit like Montana and Rice on Saturday night. Also, Frank Gore had his typical workhorse out of the backfield, surpassing 100 yards and also making plays in the passing game. They real key for the 49ers offense in this one though was the terrific play they got from their O-line. They kept the Packers pass rushers off Kaepernick's back and opened up huge holes in the running game. Sure, Kapernick gets the unofficial MVP, but without those guys up front buying him time and opening up the center of the field, he doesn't have the chance to do a lot of the things he was able to.

Of course, the play of the Niners defense can't go without notice either. As solid as the offense was, that defense was able to match the great effort they put forth in Green Bay during their week one victory. And as good as we all feel about this win, that defense has to get right back to work Monday with their focus shifted to Atlanta. The Falcons were the NFC's best this season, so it's only fitting the 49ers will have to go through them in order to get that rip New Orleans. We'll break down the game more next week, but early on, the obvious key to the game will be for San Francisco to at least contain the Falcon's top-flight receiving core.

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