The SAN FRANCISCO STUFFS THE GREEN BAY PACKERS BY 30-22, WERE YOU IMPRESSED BY THIS WIN?
- San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers celebrates after kicking a 63-yard field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps) Photo: Jeffrey Phelps, Associated Press / SF
GREEN BAY -- , Wis. - Minutes after the 49ers made a season-opening statement with a 30-22 win over the Packers on Sunday, San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio resembled a man whose team had lost.
After coaching from upstairs, the grim-faced 53-year-old sat slumped on the back of a golf cart, which was ferrying him, general manager Trent Baalke and offensive coordinator Greg Roman under the stands at Lambeau Field to a celebratory locker room. So why, exactly, did Fangio appear so deflated after his defense had capped a virtuoso performance by stopping Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on a last-minute, potentially game-tying drive?
"At the end there when you're going through that, it's like you're being drowned and someone just pulled you out of the water," Fangio said. "You're just laying there. It's like, 'Thank God you're alive.' "
With that, Fangio offered a big smile. He clearly felt very much alive after the 49ers, thanks to a dominating defensive effort, had killed a series of streaks: San Francisco ended an eight-game losing skid at Lambeau Field that dated to 1990, snapped Green Bay's 13-game home winning streak and held high-powered Green Bay under 24 points at Lambeau for the first time since 2010.
After last year's 13-3 season ended in the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers were viewed by many as Super Bowl contenders. And Sunday's road win, over a team that went 15-1 last year, should win over remaining skeptics.
"I think we have a team to be reckoned with," cornerback Tarell Brown said. "I think we have a team that's on the borderline of being a great team."
Jim Harbaugh's mantra is, "The team, the team and the team," and Sunday's victory was an all-around effort.
The defense? The 49ers dropped extra defenders into coverage against the pass-happy Packers, who ranked fifth in NFL history with 540 points last year. The tradeoff was that San Francisco was outnumbered up front and routinely took one of their best defensive players, inside linebacker Patrick Willis, out when they used six defensive backs.
Regardless, the 49ers still stuffed the run - Green Bay running back Cedric Benson had 18 yards on nine carries - and harassed Rodgers. They collected three sacks and five hits on the reigning NFL MVP, who scrambled five times for 27 yards under duress. After three quarters, the Packers, who scored two offensive touchdowns, trailed 23-7.
"That was big time," safety Dashon Goldson said of the defensive game plan. "Being able to keep box light and still stop the run? There's a lot of things you can do on back end which will help defend against the passing game. And our front did its job very well."
Meanwhile, as the Packers ended five of their first six drives with punts, the 49ers' offense scored on five straight possessions (three field goals and two touchdowns) after a game-opening three-and-out.
The five-series scoring streak was highlighted by power running from Frank Gore (16 carries, 112 yards, TD) and the spotless play of quarterback Alex Smith (20-of-26, 211 yards, 125.6 rating), who tossed a 14-yard second-quarter touchdown to Randy Moss and threaded a 4-yard dart to Vernon Davis to give the 49ers a 23-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
The balanced offense featured 32 runs (averaging 5.8 yards per rush), 26 passes and touchdowns on both drives in the red zone.
"We came into the game with a will-to-win attitude," Davis said. "We ran the ball well and we passed when we needed to. We made the plays. We made it happen."
Trailing by 16 points, though, the Packers began making plays.
Randall Cobb returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown and Green Bay answered Gore's 23-yard subsequent touchdown run with a 10-yard pass from Rodgers to James Jones to close the gap to 30-22 with 6:05 left.
The Packers got the ball back at their own 16 with 3:37 left, and Rodgers drove them to San Francisco's 45 with 54 seconds remaining. On 4th-and-10, however, Rodgers' deep pass to Jordy Nelson down the right sideline was batted away by cornerback Chris Culliver and the 49ers - and Fangio - could exhale.
"We played good today," Fangio said when asked if his defense could be more dominant in 2012. "And so we could be better. That's a week-to-week proposition."
So far, so good.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/49ers-defense-stuffs-Gree...
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