Having attended the game against the Packers Sunday, I wanted to share some of the things that I noticed that people may have not seen on TV.
The first thing I noticed was how many Packers fans were there. I'd say that the stadium was about 35% Packers fans...and they were loud. By the end of the game, they had pretty much taken over the stadium. This shouldn't come as a surprise since Packers fans travel well everywhere they go, but it seems like more and more 49er fans are willing to give up their seats as the season goes on.
Once my eyes hit the field, I noticed how bad the offensive line was, specifically the right side. Right Guard Jordan Devey was routinely getting blown back off the ball on nearly every snap. Running Back Carlos Hyde was hit in the backfield on several plays, some plays he made positive yardage and others he didn't...but he seemed to be finding a bit of a rhythm. Inexplicably, the 49ers chose not to run the ball as much in the second half.
Keeping with the offensive line theme, there were several plays where Green Bay brought the house on the blitz and Quarterback Colin Kaepernick didn't even have a chance to finish his drop back. The significance of this was there were open receivers when that happened. On the 49ers first possession in the red zone, Hyde came open on a swing route and Kaepernick didn't have time to throw it and took a sack. Kaepernick tried to step up into the pocket multiple times, but actually stepped up right into the rush.
Speaking of Kaepernick, while he didn't get any help from his offensive line, his play was sub-par to say the least. He was consistently missing open receivers and when he did find an open receiver, he threw the ball into the dirt. Three of these plays stick out to me that could have changed the game:
-The aforementioned sack that he took where Hyde was open
-The jump ball to Torrey Smith in the end zone in the 4th quarter on 3rd and 5 where Anquan Boldin shook free of his man and was wide open for an easy first down or a possible touchdown.
-The interception Kaepernick threw into double coverage that Packers Safety Sam Shields came up with. This interception was the worst throw of the game, as Quinton Patton was wide open for an easy touchdown, standing and flailing his arms at the Packers 45. Pause the video at 2:22 and you can see him standing at the 45 near the sideline with no one near him.
The offensive play calling was, well, offensive. Again, there were no designed roll outs, very few screens and no quick developing pass plays. Offensive Coordinator Geep Chryst kept calling for pass plays that require 5 to 7 step drop backs, which is extremely odd given the offensive line's struggles. One would think he would want Kaepernick to get rid of the ball quickly.
The play calling was curious at several points in the game, but nothing was more curious than the 49ers not being able to take advantage of Packers safeties playing close to the line of scrimmage. About 3.4 of the game was played with the Packers safeties near the line, leaving receivers 1-on-1 outside. I'm shocked that the Niners didn't try to exploit this with Torrey Smith. After all, why was Smith brought in if they're not going to take a shot down the field with him?
The defense played a strong game, considering Aaron Rodgers was on the other side of the field. Oddly enough, the defense didn't blitz as much this week as in weeks past and was able to generate considerable pressure with just the front 4. Rodgers was constantly under duress and outside of a few "Aaron Rodgers throws", he was kept mostly in check. Coverage was good on Packers receivers with very few receivers running open down the field.
It's interesting to note that there were several players who went to the sideline upset. Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton all stormed off the field at various points and all had to be pulled aside by Head Coach Jim Tomsula. It's even more obvious in person that the players are growing frustrated with every missed opportunity and every loss.
Aside from that, I didn't see Jed York in his box, but I did see Trent Baalke in his. I wonder if they saw the same game that I was seeing.