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Grant Takes It Right At 49ers

Green Bay tried to and succeeded in establishing the run early with feature back Ryan Grant, and the third-year pro was pretty darn effective all day long, churning out 129 yards on 21 carries in the Packers’ 30-24 victory at Lambeau Field. - More Packers-49ers Game Center

Coming into Sunday's game, the San Francisco 49ers' defense was ranked an impressive third in the league against the run but an alarming 29th against the pass.

That didn't mean the Packers were going to attack in one-dimensional fashion, however. Far from it.

Green Bay tried to and succeeded in establishing the run early with feature back Ryan Grant, and the third-year pro was pretty darn effective all day long, churning out 129 yards on 21 carries in the Packers' 30-24 victory at Lambeau Field.

Grant, who also had a 1-yard touchdown run, topped 100 yards for the second time this season. But more importantly, he let the 49ers know right away he would be a factor in the game, and the ground attack remained a key all the way to the end when the offense killed the final five minutes, 50 seconds on the clock to seal the win.

"We did a good job of executing," Grant said of the ground game, which produced 158 yards in all, well above the average of 87.7 rushing yards per game San Francisco had been allowing coming in.

"We knew what type of defense they run. They're physical, they play downhill. We wanted to just press a lot of my holes and make sure I wasn't too fast on my cuts because a lot of times their linebackers play behind blocks and will read and feel things out. I wanted to make my cuts as late as possible to make sure that guys were engaged with their blocks. We did a good job with that."

Right from the start. On the Packers' opening possession, Grant carried the ball on three of the first five plays. Two of those were back-to-back runs of 10 and 26 yards that got the offense in position for its opening field goal.

As the game wore on, Grant added five more long runs to total seven on the day of 9 yards or more.

The biggest of those came late in the fourth quarter with the Packers trying to run out the clock. San Francisco had just scored to pull within six points, and after a penalty on the kickoff return, Green Bay took over on its own 9-yard line with 5:50 left.

Grant picked up 6 yards on two runs before quarterback Aaron Rodgers converted the third-and-4 with a 5-yard pass to tight end Jermichael Finley. Then, with the clock under four minutes, Grant ran into a clogged middle but kept his feet, bounced to the outside and found daylight for 21 yards out to the 41.

It ended up being his last carry, as Grant sustained a shoulder stinger on the play and was replaced by Brandon Jackson. But the long run got the clock under three minutes and put the offense in a position where one more first down would seal the game.

The Packers got that, with rushes of 1 and 8 yards by Jackson prior to a sneak by Rodgers, and the game was over at the two-minute warning.

"That's what you have to do," Grant said of the final drive. "We knew it was going to be that type of possession, backed up. We were going to have to get ourselves out with first downs, so we were able to do it. The line did a good job. We finished it the way we needed to."

Grant finished with an impressive average of 6.1 yards per carry, his best of the season, even better than the 5.5 mark he put up in a 27-carry, 148-yard performance at Cleveland. The gaudy average also nearly doubled the 3.3 yards per rush the 49ers had been allowing, which was tops in the NFL, and was Grant's career-best in a game with at least 20 carries.

"You've got to give credit to our guys up front," Rodgers said. "I thought they did a nice job. 'RG', I think he had a good rhythm today as far as being patient but hitting the holes and breaking tackles. The receivers do a great job blocking for him when he gets to that second level as well."

{sportsad300}With Sunday's effort, Grant now has 829 rushing yards on the season through 10 games. If he can maintain that 83-yard average per contest the rest of the way, he'll finish with 1,327 yards this season, well above his number of 1,203 from last year.

The Packers no doubt would love to keep pounding the ball at that pace, because the offensive balance obviously benefits Rodgers and the passing attack. It would help if the offensive line could stay healthy, and there were no reported injuries up front following the game, which was good news.

Sunday's group with Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher at the tackles, Daryn Colledge and Josh Sitton and the guards, and Scott Wells at center was one of six the Packers have started a game with this season, but it had started only once previously - at Tampa Bay.

With some good health, it could be the lineup the coaching staff sticks with from here on out. In addition to the strong ground game against a tough run defense, the unit also allowed just two sacks.

"It all depends on how we build off of it," Tauscher said. "We did some good things today running the football, but in this business you're judged on a week-to-week basis. Things get flipped tomorrow already. There's no buildup, it's right to Detroit, and that's great. So now let's see what we do on Thursday when we get up to Detroit."

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