The 49ers have played a bunch of games against Green bay, and their outcome has been decidedly one-sided in recent memory. The 49ers have lost 8 straight at Lambeau Field. 6 regular season games, and 2 playoff games. Their last win being way back in 1990 in the last of Joe Montana’s healthy years as the starting Niner QB. GB’s QB was the semi-effective Don ‘Magic Man’ Majkowski, 2 years before Niner killer Brett favre joined the Pack.So it’ has been a while.
Enough about that. Yesterday’s game was a triumph of scheming by the 49ers coaching staff. The offense used it’s newfound WRs to great use. Randy Moss wasn’t on the field much (maybe 15 plays) but he had 4 catches for 47 yards, including a 14 yard TD (his 16th in Lambeau). Manningham had 4 catches for 29 yards. Crabs, 7 for 76 yards. the 15 passes for 132 yards to WRs is something the Niners couldn’t even dream of last year. Smith hit pretty much everything he threw, and ended up 20-26 and 211 yards, and no picks. Smith late in the game, passes Steve Young for most passes (185) without a pick. Frank Gore put his stamp on this game with tough runs all day. He sliced and pounded his way to 112 yards on 16 carries and one late TD.
The defense did very well themselves. In the 1st half, the Niners stuffed the run every try, and kept everything in front of them in the passing game. The Pack managed one good drive, scoring midway through the 2nd quarter. With the miraculous 63 yard FG by David (BOOOIIIIINNNGGG!!!!) Akers closing out the 1st half at 16-7, the Niners went into a scheme reminiscent of the Mike Nolan Big Sub days to start the 3rd quarter. They ran a 3-1-7 package that put their best player, Patrick Willis on the sidelines. The only linebacker in there was Navorro Bowman. It was effective through the 3rd quarter, as the 49ers built onto their lead with the 6 yard TD pass from Smith to VD, and the game was seemingly in hand.
That is, until the refs decided to give the Pack a gift TD. Barely 4 minutes into the 4th quarter, the 49ers punted from their own 14 yard line. Tex Cobb then took the punt 75 yards for a score. His reaction was classic as he then noticed a flag on the play. Replays showed at least 2 illegal blocks in the back. One on Larry Grant, and one on Anthony Dixon. Dixon said he was near the ref that made the call, and the head ref talked him out of making that call (ESPN got a chuckle out of it by saying none of the 6 illegal blocks were called on the play). After the 2 point conversion, suddenly, the Niners were only up by 8. After a quick 3 and out (and a very questionable spot by the refs on Gore’s 3rd and 2 run), Green Bay had the ball back with plenty of momentum. That is, until Navorro Bowman snuck back into coverage on a pass Rodgers was attempting to throw over the middle to Grag Jennings and picked it off for a 1st down on Green Bay’s 23 yard line. Gore then took the 1st play from scrimmage around the right side for a 23 yard score, and the Niners seemingly in comand again at 30-15.
At this point, the Niners were rushing 3 linemen, and usually one DB or LB when they switched back into their 3-2-6 package. This drive, though, they only rushed their 3 linemen and dropped everyone else into coverage. Giving Rodgers time is a recipe for disaster, and he picked apart the secondary going 6-6 for 82 yards and a touchdown to James Jones in a span of 2:36. The Niners next possession started promisingly with a nice rollout and lob pass to Bruce Miller for 15 yards. However, after Gore rush for no gain, and a 7 yard sack, the drive stalled, and Green Bay had the ball, down by 8, with 3:37 left.
This drive started with the same scheme of only rushing the linemen. Rodgers marched the Pack to the SF 45 yard line, and the tension was ratcheting up. Finally, Fangio brought in more linemen and rushed 4 and 5 guys. This led to an incomplete pass with Rodgers under heavy pressure, and a sack to bring about 4th and 10. Rodgers went deep for Nelson, but the pass was batted down on excellent coverage by Chris Culliver. End of game.
All in all, a huge win by the 49ers. Given the opponent, the location, and the horrific officiating, the 49ers overcame a ton of obstacles. Two minutes into the game, I thought Jim Harbaugh’s head was going to explode after CJ Spillman was called for an illegal block in the back. Seeing as he wasn’t a BLOCKER on the play, and he pretty much ran down the field untouched, the call was beyond terrible. This was followed up by an unsportsmanlike call on Aldon Smith for taking his helmet off after sacking Aaron Rodgers. Thing is, Smith was kicked in the facemask during the sack, and Smith’s chinstrap ended up crunching into his nose. He took his helmet off to get the strap off his face. Harbaugh again tried to talk sense to the refs, but they would have none of it. Seeing how the refs picked up the flag on the obvious block in the back on the punt later in the game only made these non-overturns even more terrible. By the time they picked up that flag, Harbaugh was laughing on the sidelines.
If those awful calls had determioned the outcome of this game, there would be serious issues. Much like the Seattle game, where the refs game Seattle 4 timouts in the 2nd half to try and score late in the game. For wat it’s worth, the shit call didn’t affect the outcome, but it very well could have.