Game Review: Much Work Remains

There aren’t any numbers that make Saturday night’s 34-6 preseason loss at San Francisco look any better. Less than 200 total yards, six sacks, nine penalties, three turnovers and a 2-for-14 showing on third down all added up to the Packers’ second straight loss, dropping Green Bay to 0-2 midway through the preseason. - More Packers-49ers Game Center


There aren't any numbers that make Saturday night's 34-6 preseason loss at San Francisco look any better.

Less than 200 total yards, six sacks, nine penalties, three turnovers and a 2-for-14 showing on third down all added up to the Packers' second straight loss, dropping Green Bay to 0-2 midway through the preseason. Games at Denver and at home against Tennessee remain, as does plenty of work for a team that left Candlestick Park a bit disgusted with itself.

"We just stunk," offensive tackle Mark Tauscher said. "You can't color it and put it in any other light. We flat-out stunk, and from an offensive standpoint, there's nothing you can say. We flat-out were no good."

For starters, it was a struggle for the Packers' No. 1 offensive unit, which played the entire first half. The group managed just 46 yards of total offense and four first downs in 25 snaps, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (9-of-16, 58 yards, 64.1 rating) was sacked four times for losses totaling 26 yards.

It wasn't exactly the homecoming Rodgers envisioned, returning to his native northern California and playing just across the bay from his alma mater, Cal-Berkeley. Rodgers emphasized after the game that he isn't worried about the offense improving soon enough, but he acknowledged it took a step back in this game.

"I'm disappointed," Rodgers said. "I had a lot of family and friends here and didn't give them a lot to cheer about. That's going to happen sometimes. It's how your respond to the situation, and as an offense we have to respond. We have to play a lot better next week.

"We need to be honest in our critiques of the film. I'm going to be brutally honest with myself. I know I didn't play well tonight, and we have to improve."

Head Coach Mike McCarthy is confident everyone will, and will be determined to do so.

"This is an excellent opportunity for our team to learn from this, and I'll take full advantage of this opportunity for our football team to learn from this, whether it's the quarterback, free safety, defensive linemen, throughout our football team," McCarthy said.

The defense set up the offense's best chance to score a touchdown, as cornerback Charles Woodson stepped in front of a J.T. O'Sullivan pass intended for Vernon Davis and picked it off deep in San Francisco territory. Woodson fumbled the ball on the return but alertly batted it out of bounds, giving the Packers a first-and-goal on the 7.

But the offense couldn't take full advantage. Rodgers had tight end Donald Lee wide open in the corner of the end zone on first down, but Lee dropped the pass. A sack and incompletion forced a 31-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, giving Green Bay a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter.

"We need to find that rhythm and figure out what our identity is going to be," Rodgers said. "Is it going to be spreading teams out? Is it going to be running the football? We just need to get healthy and hopefully have a better performance next week."

After being held relatively well in check during the first quarter, San Francisco's offense got going in the second quarter as the Packers started the substituting by replacing starting corners Woodson and Al Harris.

The 49ers marched 87 yards in 15 plays, as O'Sullivan hit passes of 27 yards to Jason Hill and 22 yards to Josh Morgan to convert key third downs. The Packers nearly had a goal-line stand, holding San Francisco on three straight running plays from inside the 3-yard line, but DeShaun Foster finally scored on his fourth try, from 1 yard out.

The Niners added another score before halftime, this time striking quickly. A coverage bust in the secondary left Morgan open deep down the left sideline, and O'Sullivan hit him in stride for a 59-yard score and a 14-3 halftime lead for San Francisco.

The two teams traded field goals early in the third quarter, with the Packers getting theirs on the strength of a 56-yard kickoff return by rookie Jordy Nelson.

The 49ers then extended their lead to 24-6 when they recovered a fumbled snap by Brian Brohm at the Green Bay 16, and took advantage of a pass interference call on fourth down on Jarrett Bush to score on a 1-yard plunge.

"I think the whole secondary struggled a little bit," Bush said. "I think we were all on different pages, and we just have to go and correct it. You get knocked down, but you have to keep getting up. It's preseason, we fix it, and we go on from there."

The 49ers added 10 more points in the fourth quarter on a field goal and a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown by Allen Rossum.

Meanwhile, the Packers did get 86 yards rushing in the second half from Kregg Lumpkin (10 carries, 51 yards) and Noah Herron (6-35), but squandered two final scoring opportunities with turnovers.

Another long kickoff return by Nelson set up quarterback Matt Flynn and the No. 3 offense in San Francisco territory, and the drive advanced as far as the 49ers' 16-yard line. But a holding penalty, a sack, and another sack that forced a fumble recovered by San Francisco wasted the opportunity.

{sportsad300}Then on Green Bay's final possession, Flynn moved the offense from its own 35 to the San Francisco 16, only to have tight end Evan Moore fumble after catching a short pass, giving the ball back to the Niners one last time.

"We didn't get it done on first and second down, we allowed them to bring a lot of pressure, and we didn't pick up the pressure, so they continued to bring it," offensive lineman Daryn Colledge said. "No excuses. They were more physical than us. They outhit us, they out played us, and when we watch the film, it'll show."

The Packers certainly hope to put on a better show in their remaining two tune-ups. While the players acknowledged it is only the preseason, it's not as though a team can expect to just flip a switch when the games actually count. And that time is getting closer by the day.

"We're concerned with this effort," Woodson said. "This is not what we feel we have as far as this team is concerned.

"This is not the way we want to go into the season. It is preseason, but it's a time when you work on fundamental things that you need to work on in order to be a good team, so we've got a lot of work to do."

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