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Inbox: That throw looked like a glitch in the matrix

No team has made it work with its running game more than San Francisco

TE Robert Tonyan

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Regarding Marty from Plymouth's comment about the crowd being treated childishly with players saying "shh" on the video board. Sometimes I feel like the Lambeau crowd isn't the most knowledgeable when it comes to crowd noise and when to make noise and when to be quiet. Places such as Kansas City and Seattle have fans that understand their role. The two of you have been to more games and locations then the rest of us. Thoughts?

We live in a world that warns us that coffee is hot, Elmer's glue is not to be eaten and the best way to avoid getting into an accident with a garbage truck is to not tailgate behind it. It's not an insult for there to be "Shh" warnings on the jumbotron. It's an instruction manual, if you will, after fans have been away from the football field for a year.

Nathan from Abingdon, MD

"This is a golden opportunity for Butler." Well done, Mike. I would love to see LeRoy Butler get his gold jacket this next year. One of my fondest memories growing up was watching him play and do the Lambeau Leap. Separate topic: How does the offense best exploit the SF defense this week? Lot of talk about our O-line and the noise, but where can the team really take advantage against this D?

Exploit is the wrong word. I think it's more being opportunistic while also establishing an early rhythm. As always, the 49ers have multiple elite players in their front. The key for the Packers is not allowing Nick Bosa and Co. to wreck the game.

Kevin from Neptune City, NJ

Here's to hoping this Packers defense doesn't assist in creating a new star at the running back position in SF once again, a la Raheem Mostert a couple years ago.

No team has made it work with its running game more than San Francisco over the past four years. The 49ers have a solid, veteran offensive line and the misdirection they run is as good as any team in the NFL. Even if Elijah Mitchell doesn't play, the Packers will still have their hands full with Trey Sermon.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, it's the same old problem. Without Z, I don't think we're going to be able to generate enough QB pressure with four guys. Jimmy G has a 70% completion rate and looks good enough to make us pay if we blitz often. Do you see Sunday as a high-scoring game where we'll need to get a small number of key stops? Opinion (not thoughts)?

Be careful using this game as a litmus test for the pass rush. The 49ers have only dropped back 56 times in two games (compared to 66 runs). When San Francisco does call for a pass, Garoppolo typically is getting it out quick. Everything starts on Sunday with the run.

Alex from Hibbing, MN

How many times have the opposing QBs thrown at receivers being covered by No. 23 this year? I never seem to see his number anywhere near the ball. It's pretty incredible.

According to Pro Football Reference, Jaire Alexander has been targeted nine times in two games. He's conceded just five catches for 50 yards, but even then, some of that came in zone. Man-to-man, Alexander is tough to beat.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

This isn't consistent with the way the Packers usually play defense, but with a new DC who knows: Is it feasible to have Alexander cover George Kittle throughout the game, or is the size difference between the two players perhaps asking too much from the cornerback? Of course, King and Stokes would be playing outside.

Alexander can play anywhere but the Packers haven't had him shadow a receiver much during his first three NFL seasons. One reason Joe Barry likes having multiple nickel cornerbacks is because it doesn't allow the opposition to lock in on one specific player. So, at any moment, the Packers could go that direction with Alexander but it hasn't happened yet. To me, the more likely scenario is some combination of Kevin King, Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos and De'Vondre Campbell taking turns against Kittle.

Margeaux from Tallahassee , FL

Mike's quote "He who hesitates is lost" certainly didn't apply to Aaron Rodgers's TD to Robert Tonyan. In his presser Aaron explained the process his mind went through for making the throw. For me as a viewer the process was that he saw it. He liked it. He threw it. For any athlete that has struggled with over analysis bringing paralysis this was a fine example of analysis without paralysis, or in other words, greatness.

From where Mike and I sit in the press box, that throw looked like a glitch in the matrix. That ball came out so fast, and disappeared through the defender and into Tonyan's hands. We see Rodgers make those types of throws on the regular but I remain in awe of each and every one.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Two years ago, SF consistently got penetration on the interior OL in both games, let alone what Nick Bosa was able to do on the edge. I feel that was the real issue in how our run game and play-action passing were rendered ineffective. While SF has lost some of those front seven since, many are still there and now our OL is younger and more vulnerable. How has the SF defensive front changed since two years ago?

That San Francisco defensive front leans more towards reloaded than rebuilt. Bosa, Arik Armstead and Dee Ford are proven disruptors. Javon Kinlaw is the prototypical 49ers defensive tackle – big, tall and rangy (four deflections last year). D.J. Jones is more stout but still knows his way to the QB. So, while some of the names have changed for San Fran, the job hasn't gotten any easier for NFL O-lines.

Andrew from Simi Valley, CA

Is it likely that we will see an extra tight end on the line to help with blocking?

That's part of the offense. The Packers have plenty of two-TE concepts in the playbook with Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan inline. Elgton Jenkins didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday, so the O-line is getting in the necessary work to prepare in case he is in fact unavailable Sunday night. Green Bay will ready either way.

Ross from Roswell, GA

Gents, not seeing a whole lot of Amari Rodgers on offense yet. Is it just a case of him not cracking the lineup yet? Watching him during camp he looked sneaky fast on routes.

One football. Five skill-position guys per play. Only so many snaps. This isn't James Jones and Greg Jennings walking into a WR room in need of Day 1 contributors. Rodgers has time to develop and prepare for when his number is called.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Mike and Wes, how many games do look at before you say a position or group has improved such as special teams?

Three or four. I think the first quarter-pole gives you a solid barometer for how a player/group is performing, and where things are trending. Through two games, however, I've been impressed by Maurice Drayton's unit. There's still room for improvement but Corey Bojorquez strikes the ball well, the coverage guys are playing with discipline, and Kylin Hill has brought some excitement to kickoff returns.

Douglas from Union Grove, WI

Wes, I realize this is more of a "Cliff Question," but I'll also ask you. My brother-in-law and I would do Packer trivia on our way to games. He stumped me with this one, and over the years, I forgot the answer. I can't seem to find it...anywhere. For a very brief time in his first training camp, Bart Starr wore a number other than 15, what was it? Yes, it was a Frank Lamping question…

I don't know all the details behind it, but Starr wore No. 42 for a very brief time. Quite a few rookies in that era, though, wore different numbers during training camp.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

On the play the ball slipped out of Jared Goff's hand, was Rashan Gary credited with a sack?

He wasn't. The NFL officially listed it as a team sack.

Sal from Hailey, ID

I feel like I've heard more this week about a "hostile environment" than I have in a long time, but I guess that makes sense coming off a year of silent stadiums? The combined weight of so many rough games in recent years certainly makes me apprehensive, but is there something in particular that makes playing at Levi's Stadium more difficult?

Just the crowd. I'm not sure if Levi's probably makes many lists of most difficult road environments but 49ers fans are supremely underrated. Every time I've covered a game in San Fran/San Jose, those fans turned out and let their voices be heard. Since 2011, the 49ers have played a lot of quality football., so that's naturally going to energize your fanbase.

Greg from Glen Ellyn, IL

I know Mike may not be voting for Devin Hester on his first ballot, but what say you, Wes? If ever there was going to be a first-ballot special teamer in the history of league, don't you think it would be a guy who played like Hester? Are there any players you can think of (other than kickers) who are in Canton for their special-teams resumés?

I think Hester is a Hall of Famer. I don't think he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The Pro Football Hall of Fame voters have so much work to do unclogging this jam of deserving players. I would hope 6-8 of the returning finalists/semifinalists from last year get in either in 2022 or '23. Hester's time will come soon enough.

Matt from Burlington , WI

Wes, is the wide receiver room too stacked to line up Aaron Jones out wide? Please take a look at the shirts I gave. Did I capture you well enough? These are definitely the official unofficial Inbox with Spoff and Biff.

It's not that the Packers are too stacked Jones can't play outside. I just think that alignment is better when done in moderation since motioning Jones out almost always results in an empty backfield (a.k.a. "Hey, we're passing!") Nicely done on the shirt, though. I bet a name and ampersand shirt with "Brett from Green Bay & Derek from Eau Claire & Lori from Brookfield" would do even better business.

Sean from San Diego, CA

How different is it to cover the game while watching TV coverage versus being in the press box?

It's like playing golf with just your seven-iron. You can do it…but it's not easy.

Josh from Seattle, WA

Do you have time to join the Rodgers Book Club? Seems like some great content for the II community but might have to wait for the offseason.

Rodgers has been talking about "The Alchemist" for years. I probably should have read it by now.

Keith from Oakland, CA

Hey, I'm going to the game Sunday. Going to be tough but keeping my fingers crossed. More importantly, Aaron's Halloween costume: Big Lebowski, Joe Dirt or Aragorn?

Richie Tenenbaum is my guess.

Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK

What did you think about the Team Europe tribute to the Packers?

As a lifelong fan of Mick Foley and the psychology of pro wrestling, I strongly approve of how Team Europe played to the crowd.

Dave from Waterford, OH

Great reply to the final "thoughts" question on Wednesday, Wes. I chuckled. Somehow that reminded me of the time my wife said, " I was thinking, in my head ..." and I said, "Where else would you be thinking?"

Thank you very little.


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