49ers 30 vs. Packers 22: Final Report Cards, Players Grades for San Francisco
The 49ers won their first game against the Packers in nine tries and their first game in Lambeau Field since November of 1990, dominating Green Bay in all three phases of the game for three-and-a-half quarters and then holding on for dear life late.
It must be gratifying for the 49ers to win what surely looked like one of the two or three most difficult games on their schedule and you have to think that every "Power Poll" in the country will have them at No. 1 on Monday.
As usual, the 49ers won the game by dominating on the ground, winning the turnover battle, making some eye-opening plays on special teams and getting just enough plays from efficient Alex Smith.
It's going to take a sensational effort for anybody to beat this team.
Alex Smith was mostly quiet in the fourth quarter, but he out-played Aaron Rodgers by and large, completing 20-of-26 passes for 211 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. In doing so, he's set a new franchise record, as he hasn't thrown a pick in his last 185 regular season attempts, and 249 overall counting the playoffs.
Smith had a 125.6 passer rating for the game and while he took too many sacks and his longest completion only went for 29 yards, the bottom line is he was mistake free and good when he had to be.
FRANK GORE: A.
He got better as the game went on with 16 carries for 112 yards and a score, including a 23-yard scamper to the right that effectively put the game out of reach. He repeatedly broke tackles, using his stiff-arm, and wore down the Packers defense.
BRUCE MILLER: B
Pretty good game as a lead blocker, but he did miss a blitz pickup against Packers safety Charles Woodson, which led to a sack. Caught one pass in the fourth quarter for 15 yards to pick up an important first down.
KENDALL HUNTER: B
Hunter averaged a solid 4.6 yards on nine carries in relief of Gore and also had a nice 31-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
MICHAEL CRABTREE: B+
Led the team with seven receptions for 76 yards, catching everything close to him and eluding a couple of Packers to pick up first downs. He benefited from the attention Green Bay was paying to the other receivers.
RANDY MOSS: B
The future Hall-of-Famer didn’t play too many snaps, but he hauled in four passes for 47 yards, including a 14-yard score in the second quarter. Alex Smith didn’t attempt any deep passes to him.
MARIO MANNINGHAM: B-
Manningham was a ghost for most of the exhibition season, dealing with minor injuries and then personal tragedy, but he surprisingly had a strong debut for the 49ers, with four grabs for 29 yards. He played more snaps than Randy Moss, believe it or not, and one would think eventually he’ll run deeper routes for the Niners.
VERNON DAVIS: B+
Davis was quiet for most of the game, but had a 29-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter and had a great shoe-top touchdown catch later in the drive. He was also awesome as a run blocker, eliminating Clay Matthews or Nick Perry repeatedly.
JOE STALEY: D
Only a typically great game as a run blocker salvages a passing grade for Staley, who was beaten by Clay Matthews speed for three sacks. Staley got his nose messed up early in the game and perhaps it bothered him throughout, but it was a game to forget for the Pro Bowler.
MIKE IUPATI: A-
Was a road grader up front and most of the 49ers runs were up the gut, right behind #77.
ANTHONY DAVIS: A-
Davis had an outstanding game. Packers rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry got nothing going against him and the 49ers offense had quite a bit of success running behind Davis, including Frank Gore’s game clinching touchdown.
JUSTIN SMITH: B-
Only one tackle on the stat sheet, but Smith caved the pocket a few times and came close to sacking Rodgers twice. Green Bay never ran to his side.
RAY MCDONALD: B
His four tackles led the defensive line, but he didn’t have a whole lot to do once the Packers quit trying to run.
PATRICK WILLIS: C+
Had six tackles in an uncharacteristically quiet afternoon and missed a couple too.
NAVORRO BOWMAN: A
Bowman was subbed out in the team’s dime defense early, but the coaching staff quickly changed their minds on that, and a good thing they did. Bowman had an outstanding game with a team-leading 11 tackles, wrapping up receivers on underneath routes time and again, and he had the first interception of his career in the fourth quarter to set up a touchdown from Frank Gore.
ALDON SMITH: C+
The wunderkind had an early sack of Rodgers but negated the positive by flipping off his helmet to draw an unsportsmanlike penalty. He didn’t get too much pressure on Rodgers after that and was off the field quite a bit in the team’s dime defense.
AHMAD BROOKS: C+
Did not get much heat on Rodgers wasn’t in on too many tackles through three quarters, but chased down Rodgers to hold him to a short gain on a scramble in the fourth and then surprised the Packers with a pass rush up the gut to sack Rodgers for a big loss on second down on Green Bay’s final series. Also pressured Rodgers on the final fourth down pass.
CARLOS ROGERS: B
Held up well in slot coverage though at times James Jones and Randall Cobb got away from him. Had a first quarter sack of Rodgers, and tackled well.
TARELL BROWN: B
Really strong first half, especially on a deep ball to Greg Jennings he batted away in the second quarter. Came up well in run support and had six tackles. Wasn’t picked on much at all.
DASHON GOLDSON: B
Did not have a big game on the stat sheet with just a pair of tackles, but he was effective in center field, shut down the Packers deep passing game and laid out a couple of big hits to dislodge potential receptions from Packers wide outs.
DONTE WHITNER: C
Packers tight end Jermichael Finley had a number of receptions on him, including a second quarter touchdown, and Whitner dropped a potential interception that would’ve salted the game in the fourth quarter. He did tackle well though.
CHRIS CULLIVER: B
Had three tackles, but Rodgers didn’t look his way often. Batted down the final pass of the game to seal the win.
PERRISH COX: C
Played a fair amount in the team’s dime defense and was solid most of the game, but gave up some completions late matched up against James Jones, including a 10-yard touchdown.
DAVID AKERS: A+
Converted all three field goal attempts, including an NFL record-tying 63-yarder which crashed into the crossbar and over, to end the first half. Akers is a solid bet to repeat as the league’s leading scorer in 2012.
ANDY LEE: B+
Averaged a super 53.8 yards on four punts, including a 61-yarder, but he may have out-kicked his coverage on one effort in the fourth quarter, which led to a 75-yard touchdown by Packers return man Randall Cobb (with the help of a missed block in the back penalty).
KYLE WILLIAMS: B
Williams, who handled the punt returning chores in place of the injured Ted Ginn, had a 20-yard return near the end of the second quarter to help set up Akers’ 63-yard field goal and fair caught (or scurried away from) all his other chances.
Jim Harbaugh won the Coach of the Year Award as a rookie in 2011 and is sure the front-runner to repeat the title after one week in 2012.
The 49ers were well prepared for the Packers no-huddle passing game and played far more in the dime package, using fourth corner Perrish Cox, than they were used to.
The Packers were unable to exploit all those defensive backs on the field with their running game, running for only 45 yards and 3.2 per carry.
Green Bay didn't get the match-ups they wanted either, in terms of having a linebacker or a safety on their wide outs, so they had to settle for short gains down the field. Rodgers had some success doing that, but the 49ers pass rush put enough heat on him that many drives fizzled out.
Offensively, the 49ers surprised the Packers by how much they threw the ball, especially through three quarters, and even though Alex Smith didn't beat them deep, he had plenty of short and intermediate completions to receivers old and new to produce five consecutive scoring drives in the meat of the game.
The Packers had a league-leading 31 picks last season, but nothing they did on defense was enough to flummox Smith into throwing them one, and a lot of the credit for that has to go the coaches' game plan.
An outstanding win for the 49ers, across the board.