We enter each season with so many questions and game one is our first chance to get some real answers. Here is what struck me the most today:
1. Anquan Boldin is the truth. He was tough, reliable, and smart when the play broke down. The play where Kap rolled out to his right and found him open for a first down was quintessential Boldin. He was covered at first, recognized Kap's movement and wiggled free by stepping slightly to the left. It didn't look like much but those are the plays that keep drives alive. As wonderful as it would be to have Boldin and Crabtree out there together, I still think Boldin would be getting most of the targets.
2. Eric Reid played very well. When Rogers stepped up and ran it up the middle Whitner was there to stop him just before the first down marker. Reid came flying in and stopped him five yards shorter. Reid tackled well, hit like a ton of bricks, and gained plenty of confidence today. I feel much better about the FS situation today.
3. The offensive line looked shaky today. Matthews was in the backfield all day and there was no push in the run game. I blame the run game issues a bit on the game plan. It seemed like Roman and Harbaugh decided to make the Packers eat their words that the focus was all on the passing game. The running plays they tried in the first half were all delay sweeps or stretch plays. That played right into the Packers game plan. They were already spread wide to defend the read option. The only successful running plays were when Gore or Hunter got the ball and quickly hit the hole. The Packers have plenty of size upfront, but the pursuit was coming late if lanes were open. Let's see some off tackle dives next week.
4. Vernon and Kaepernick have definitely worked on their chemistry. Kap seems to key in on the receivers he trusts. That may come back to bite him as teams will look to shut Boldin down early. His connection with Vernon will go a long way to keeping defenses honest. The key next week will be to get Williams, McDonald, and even Moore involved early. Seattle might be the best team in the league at taking a receiver out of the game.
5. Speaking of McDonald, his catch over the middle made me think we were in for something special with him. After he dropped the next one thrown to him Kap never looked his way again. Still, his skill set will definitely come in handy throughout the season. What impressed me about him is that he doesn't seem to have a lot of wasted motion. He goes from catch to moving up field very quickly. His size/speed combo is also very impressive. He's not going to get stood up by too many safeties in this league. I'd love to see him lined up on the other side of the line from Vernon and have Vernon run a seam route with Vance cutting across the middle to occupy the space left by the double team following VD.
6. Defensively I thought there were times when the pass rush vanished. Rogers can do that to teams, so I'm not worried yet. Still, it is obvious that our secondary won't win too many games on their own. The front seven will have to be dominant for us to shut teams down. That's not to say that our corners played badly. I thought Nnamdi jammed his receiver well and had good coverage on most of the receptions he gave up.
7. I am curious to see how LaMichael James does as the returner when he gets back. Kyle Williams was solid but unspectacular as the PR. We didn't see Cox return many as the KR. I just want to see our returners scare some teams. Right now they are just there to not fumble.
8. The biggest takeaway is that Kaepernick definitely has greatness. I know we all realized this during the playoffs last year, but Flacco proved that a good quarterback can be great in a small sample size. What we saw today was a carry over that bodes well for the season. Kaepernick beat a good team playing well. He beat them almost by himself and he beat them with his arm. We had no running game and he is included in that. The great ones simply win.
P.S. I know Marvin usually does a topic like this and he always has more insights than I do. If Marvin does his usual post and the mods decide to merge mine, I would take that as a compliment