Alex Smith's Arm and David Akers' Leg Propel San Francisco 49ers to Victory
If he keeps his word, Aaron Rodgers will indeed be wearing an Alex Smith jersey for the remainder of the week. As reported on Saturday by TMZ, Rodgers agreed to don the uniform for an entire week if the 49ers beat Green Bay Week 1 in Lambeau:
Well, Smith must have wanted to really see Rodgers in his uniform as he decided to put together one of the best performances of his career on Sunday. No, he didn't throw for over 300 yards like No. 12, but he didn't have to because he had the support of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. Together both backs combined for 153 yards rushing on only 25 carries.
The offseason additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham are already having positive effects on San Francisco's offense. Neither player caught more than four balls or picked up more than 50 yards, yet their presence was felt in a way that can't be measured by statistics.
Coach Jim Harbaugh praised Moss for the game he put together in his debut (h/t ESPN): "He had a lot of juice, he blocked well, he got open and he was a great big target in there."
Moss' 14-yard touchdown score in the second quarter was a welcomed sight for the 49ers, who were wondering if he had anything left. Unfortunately, Packers fans know all too well what he can do. Sunday wasn't the his first rodeo in Green Bay.
For only the fifth time in his career, Smith finished a game with a quarterback rating above 120. His QB rating of 125.6 was the fourth-highest output of his career. Prior to 2011, he had only had a rating above 120 two times in his five-year career.
Against the Packers, it was as if Smith was making every throw; he completed 20-of-26 passes and threw for 13 first downs. So, you may ask, who was his go-to guy when he needed a first down? Michael Crabtree. Of Crabtree's seven catches, four of them resulted in a first down.
Previously, Crabtree had mixed success against the Packers. As a rookie in 2009, he went off and caught four balls for 77 yards and a touchdown. 2010 didn't prove to bring as much success as the year prior, he only caught three passes for 45 yards. This year may prove to be the year where his inconsistencies are gone for good.
However, all the glory doesn't belong to Alex Smith. David Akers and the 49ers defense worked equally hard to assure victory for the Niners. Akers drilled field goals from 40, 43 and 63. As you can see in the video above, he got a friendly bounce from the crossbar on the 63-yard attempt. Previously, only Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam and Sebastian Janikowski had made kicks from that distance.
When the kick bounced over the crossbar the look on Akers face was priceless. It was as if he couldn't believe it himself. Obviously, that's a kick he has practiced before, but it's hard to tell how many times he actually knocked it through.
Defensively, San Fran put together a complete performance against the 2011 MVP. Green Bay was held to a measly seven points through three quarters. The Packers had to rely heavily on the arm of Rodgers as the ground game never really got things going.
By game's end, the cheeseheads had only churned out 45 yards on the ground. Rodgers led the team in rushing with 27 yards on five carries. Veteran Cedric Benson only carried the ball nine times for 18 yards. The 49ers run defense looked like they were in midseason form as they flew around the field unannounced.
ILB NaVorro Bowman led the team in tackles with 11, yet it was OLB Ahmad Brooks who had the biggest play of the day. As Rodgers was marching down the field looking to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Brooks put a big hit on No. 12, which forced a 4th-and-10 from the San Francisco 45. The seven-yard loss on the sack proved to be the difference in stopping the Packers dead in their tracks.
Despite the 15-point fourth quarter, Green Bay came up short with just 0:49 left to play. ILB Patrick Willis knew Sunday's win sent a statement to the rest of the league (h/t ESPN):
You turn on the TV or you hear people say, 'No, the Packers are going to beat them by two or three touchdowns,' and you hear everybody saying all this and that,' but we know what we have and we have complete confidence in one another here across the board, offense, defense and special teams. As long as we have that and we're still together, I think we're capable of doing anything.
San Francisco heads home to Candlestick in Week 2; they will be taking on Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions. Anyone remember Week 6 of the 2011 season?
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