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Inbox: That there's no debating

The Packers rose above the circumstances as a team and won as a team

WR Davante Adams

Caleb from Knoxville , TN

I was at the bar for the game, and there were a couple of Niners fans there with me. When the Niners scored for the last time and we got the ball back, 37 seconds and no timeouts, I heard a Niners fan lament, "(Shoot), we left him too much time." When all is said and done, will shuddering like this be the ultimate symbol of 12's career?

Precision and poise. Thirty years from now, those are the two words I'll use to describe Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He knew what needed to be done and did it. Rodgers played like an MVP when it mattered most, regardless of the crowd, officiating or the 49ers' comeback.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders! What a game! I remember a previous writer for a similar column (I'll call him "Vic") who used to repeat the mantra, "Players, not plays." This could not have been more apparent in Sunday night's game. The coaches knew what each would throw out on the field. But the players won the contest. What other evidence do you need to prove "Players, not plays?"

Players, plays or anything in between, the Packers were just better in my estimation. They were the more consistent, explosive team on Sunday night. There were some unfortunate circumstances that impacted the fourth quarter, but Rodgers and Davante Adams rose above all of it. They were the two best players on the field…with Mason Crosby only a few steps behind.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

I initially thought the hit on Adams was bad, and it was, but thinking back to the hit Danny Trevathan put on him, Adams is as tough as nails.

That there's no debating.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

Also, can we maybe give Mike McCarthy a quick "Thanks, Coach" for last night's win? Without his awful, yet wonderful stubborn streak, last night's win may not have happened. I am of course referring to the year of "Mason Crosby is our kicker."

I can almost hear Loretta Lynn belting out "Stand by your kicker." One of the most underrated moves Ted Thompson and McCarthy made during their 12 years together was sticking with Mason Crosby in 2012. That's the gift that keeps on giving.

Michael from Weston, Ontario

Thank goodness for jars on the shelf!

Speaking of great Vic-isms…

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

After starting the game with Nick Bosa creating edge pressure on Yosh Nijman, by the second half we were consistently ripping out 6-to-10-yard runs by Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. I seemed to notice that most of those runs were coming over the left side of the line where we were starting Nijman and Jon Runyan. This is an indicator to me that this offense might be something special. If we are controlling the LOS with young talent, then we have the key enabler for this offense to work beyond AR12 throwing great passes.

This offense can be special, and frankly, it should be special with how many impact performers it returned from last year. What was encouraging Sunday night was the contributions the younger players on the roster had on the outcome of the game. That's the unknown every season and Nijman passed that test. You can tell he's been watching and listening intently for the past two years. When the moment finally arrived, the stage wasn't too big for him. LaFleur and his coaches also had a great game plan for Bosa with Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan and Allen Lazard getting their hands dirty in the trenches, too.

Kenton from Miami, OK

In a game that was very exciting and had many memorable moments, my favorite was Robert Tonyan knocking Nick Bosa all the way back to Ohio State on that block.

That's the play I was thinking of in my previous answer. Tonyan likely would've gotten credit for a "pancake" on that play if this were "Madden 05." Tonyan played physical on Sunday and he wasn't the only one. As Rodgers alluded to after the game, Green Bay brought the energy that the team has been looking for.

Sam from Janesville, WI

Allen Lazard is a gem. A wide receiver blocking Nick Bosa and getting the better part of the play! He has got to be feeling good about that one.

I sure would be. The cherry on top was LaFleur mentioning Monday that Lazard asked to play on the kickoff coverage unit after Trenton Cannon's big return.

Ross from Hudson, WI

Watching Josh Myers make a successful block, transition to the second level and make a second successful block was a thing of beauty. Did you expect this offensive line group to perform at the level it did?

Nothing surprises me with Adam Stenavich's group at this point. He has those guys coached up. The starting five knew the standard and they played to it. The rookie Josh Myers continues to impress me. He plays the position differently than Corey Linsley but his athleticism is just as noticeable as his size. Like Linsley, Myers has a nose for getting to the second level in the run game.

Randy from Clarksville, TN

Hi. Eighteen targets for Adams and only eight to the other wideouts and tight ends. How long do you think it will take before teams account for this imbalance?

They're already doing it and many times it still doesn't matter because the Packers move Adams around. DeMeco Ryans paid Adams a huge compliment when the 49ers, often beholden to their scheme, shifted to a Cover-2 in the second half.

Hap from Graham, WA

Good morning II: Premier DBs consistently say one of the most important contributors to success is having a short memory. Do you think "21" displayed that short memory, especially in the face of a questionable call? The need for a short memory is the first thing that came to mind when I saw his next play. I'm encouraged!

I love what I've seen from Stokes. He gets flagged for two suspect pass interference calls, especially the 35-yard penalty down the middle of the field, and still was playing physical to the very end. That shows his confidence – not only in his ability, but also his coaching.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

The rush appeared to get home more in the second half and it appeared as though this was in large part due to push up the middle by Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry and T.J. Slaton. Is the attention given to the outside rush opening up one-on-ones for the inside push? Side note, Eric Stokes played very well but I suspect he will be seeing No. 71 in his sleep.

Preston Smith played a heck of a game, but I tweeted during the game that I felt Clark and Lowry set the tone for this game. The defensive front came out with the objective of slowing down the 49ers' running game and making San Francisco throw the football. When they did, the 49ers seemed content to block Clark one-on-one and the Packers' Pro Bowl defensive lineman took advantage of it.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

George Kittle truly runs with the ball like his hair is on fire.

Kittle truly is something to behold. He is a big, athletic tight end with some speed who is a problem to tackle in the open field. I thought Green Bay did as good a job as could be expected against him.

Apache from West Jordan, UT

What a thrilling game Sunday night. What are your thoughts on going for it on fourth down so early in the game? The Packers left three points on the field and almost cost us the game. Points are points regardless of how the team gets them. Go Pack Go!

I was OK with the decision to go for it. I get the logic. If you don't score, the 49ers still must go the full length of the field. Right or wrong, that's the direction analytics have steered the league.

Bruce from Lakewood, CO

Greetings Wes and Spoff: Just how close was the SF rusher to blocking the final field goal? In real time, I only saw the ball come out clean, but watching a video, it looked like it was nearly a block.

He was close but you know what they say about being close.

Matthew from Blacksburg, VA

Do you see Oren Burks getting more playtime on the defense, especially with the half-sack and pressures he got?

That depends on how Krys Barnes comes out of the game and progresses through the concussion protocol, but I thought the Packers used Burks perfectly on Sunday night. He's a natural "Will" in nickel and the guy never stops battling.

Paul from Johannesburg, South Africa

Hi II, what do you think is preventing the NFL from addressing the officiating conundrum? Is it just ego? Not wanting to acknowledge the problem. As an engineer, I was always taught if you want to make a big change to the output, you need to make a big change to an input variable, not just "tweak" things. So, add the sky judge who can overrule anything. Heck put "22" officials on the field or take all the officials off the field but one and just have sky judges but try something dramatic.

I agree with what Spoff wrote (and Rodgers said) after the game. The referees are in a thankless position trying to officiate a game that gets faster every year. My issue is this endless carousel of "emphases." The flavor of the year is "taunting," which wins the pony for most irrelevant thing to care about in a sport in which there are so many other warts protruding from the foot. Where is that energy figuring out pass interference? Or roughing the passer? Where is that energy for defenseless receivers and player safety? The NFL will move mountains to protect its quarterbacks but we couldn't even get the back judge in the right spot on the field Sunday. I'm not sure what the answer is but I'd like to see the NFL think more outside the box to make sure the right calls are being made rather than the groupthink that's been pervasive the past three years.

Brian from Sussex, WI

Is there part of the intentional grounding rule where it's not called if a hit on the QB impacts the throw? Besides the one not called on the Packers, there was an earlier game with one not called. The announcer commented about the ref considering the throw was impacted. That would add more judgement to the call, and gives the QB a way out of getting called. Forcing the throw to be bad enough to get intentional grounding sounds like a good defensive play to me.

I didn't have a problem with that call. While Garoppolo having his shoulder turned to the end zone wasn't a great look, an argument can be made Preston Smith's hit caused Garoppolo to dirt the ball instead of it finding Kittle. I'm looking for blatant and egregious errors – not the referees trying to assume what Garoppolo's intentions were.

Jake from Decatur, GA

To Mike's point, the refs mucked up more than a few calls Sunday, but at least they didn't blow it with the clock on the Packers' final drive. What did you think of the play LaFleur challenged? If a receiver receives the ball, controls it on his way to the ground, and then loses control of the ball by slamming it into the ground, should that be an incompletion or a catch and fumble? (But not really a fumble because the ground caused it.)

I'm back to not knowing what a catch is…and it's a lonely, hopeless feeling.

Blake from Wayzata, MN

In response to the fairly obvious concerns about some "obvious" bad calls, Mike's reply that officials will be human is correct. I learned years ago that to win in any sports that are officiated, you simply have to be better than the bad calls. Last night the Packers were exactly that, right?

Exactly. The Packers rose above the circumstances as a team and won as a team.

Jason from Austin, TX

Insiders, I need to give the 49ers players some props for not laying down on Adams or trying to do some borderline illegal stuff to slow the offense down from spiking the ball at the end of the game. We've seen teams successfully do that in the past.

I don't give them that much credit. He caught the ball with like seven seconds left. The defender risks a delay of game there if he refuses to allow the receiver to get back to his feet.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Packers' defense has certainly made some strides the last two weeks. However, opponent offenses have entered the Packers' red zone 10 times this season and have 10 touchdowns. Granted, the referees Sunday night assisted on one. Anything in particular you feel is the cause of the Packers' futility in this area?

Not especially. I'm not dismissing what you're saying but I find it curious how the two other teams that have yet to get a stop in the red zone are the Carolina Panthers (No. 1 defense) and the undefeated Raiders. To me, the bigger issue is third downs. The Packers are 30th right now (53.3%). Green Bay has to get off the field.

Chun from El Monte, CA

Is it wrong that I get really excited about the fact that we now have a great punter? I am 100% sold on Corey Bojorquez after just three games. The guy is a difference maker. One of the best trades the Packers have made in the last two years.

The guy has an absolute hammer for a leg. There's no hair left on that pigskin when Bojorquez gets done with it. The Packers have to make sure the gunners and coverage team get under his punts this season, but Bojorquez has shown remarkable accuracy on those boundary punts that have dogged the Packers the last seven years.

Lee from Sisters, OR

Steelers, Bengals and Bears, oh my! Not to mention the rest of the year. Is this the toughest schedule in the last 10 years?

I'm not sure. That November gauntlet the Packers are facing is as treacherous as I can remember, though. Green Bay likely will be favored in these next four games. It needs to pick up some big Ws before that TNF game in Arizona.

Jake from Greenfield, WI

Do you think Justin Tucker is the best kicker of all time? Who do you think would be in the running with him?

Adam Vinatieri is the most clutch kicker in NFL history and a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion, but I think Justin Tucker is the most complete kicker in league history. He has a world-class leg, pinpoint accuracy and unshakable resolve. He's the gold standard for the position and it's been that way for years now.

Joe from Swansea, IL

How dangerous is a proud Steelers team that's 1-2 and desperate to right its season? The euphoria Sunday night will evaporate in a hurry if the Pack don't take care of business Sunday. What are the keys to that?

It's not that dissimilar to Sunday night – you have to stop the run and not let Ben Roethlisberger get comfortable. The Bengals were so opportunistic against Pittsburgh on Sunday, forcing Roethlisberger to throw 58 times. The Steelers are down right now. The Packers can't let them get back up.


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