STATISTICS THROUGH WEEK 1
Points per game: 34 (#3 in the NFL)
Yards per game: 494 (#2)
Passing Yards (per game): 404 (#3)
Rushing Yards (per game): 90 (#12)
3rd-Down Conversion Rate: 50 percent (#7)
Red Zone Scoring Rate (TDs): 60 percent (#15)
Points per game: 28 (#23)
Yards per game: 385 (#22)
Passing yards (per game): 322 (#25)
Rushing Yards (per game): 63 (#6)
3rd-Down Conversion Rate: 40 percent (#15)
Red Zone Scoring Rate (TDs): 100 percent (#22)
NFC WEST STANDINGS
1. 49ers (1-0)
1. Seahawks (1-0)
1. Rams (1-0)
4. Cardinals (0-1)
WHAT IT MEANS
With a tiny one-week sample, it's tough to gauge the team based on statistics alone. The Packers' offense did everything it could to push the tempo against a 49ers starting unit that didn't play much in the preseason. Aaron Rodgers led four light-speed touchdown drives that lasted 1:47, 1:16, 2:48 and 2:30. Green Bay was perfect in the red zone scoring on all four of its opportunities.
Despite playing well enough to stop Green Bay from taking the lead again late in the fourth quarter, San Francisco's talented defense will have to play better going forward. One of the best tackling teams in the NFL in 2012 missed seven tackles Sunday, keeping the Packers in the game.
It was clear Mike McCarthy's intention was to limit the pass rush and exposure of his battered offensive line by going no huddle and dictating the tempo to the defense. Given the success the 49ers had against the Packers in 2012 by dictating both games' rhythm through it's running attack. McCarthy's game plan for his offense was a good one, but it was his secondary that let him down.
"One thing I would like to highlight and compliment our guys were on were their conditioning, their sustenance through the entire game," Jim Harbaugh said Monday.
The 49ers made sure to find ways to exploit the Packers secondary that was missing its best slot corner and safety by using motions and pre-snap reads. Bruce Miller was often sent in motion wide, forcing Green Bay to use a corner on him while setting up Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis in favorable positions against the inexperienced safety tandem of M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian.
Coming in, Green Bay's intent on defense was to stop the run. They did for the most part, holding San Francisco to 90 yards on the ground after averaging 165 in 2012. The Packers' front seven played well in limiting Colin Kaepernick to the pocket and preventing him from making big plays with his legs. But what they didn't anticipate was his ability to beat them with his arm. He finished with a career-high 412 yards passing.
The 49ers' offensive line continued to look like one of the best in the league and gave Kaepernick enough time to make his reads.
"Our offensive line was tremendous. The pass protection today was outstanding. You don't throw for 400-plus yards without great effort by the offensive line. Every time that Kap dropped back he had time to survey and see the field, and he was really seeing things well out there today," Harbaugh said following the game.
Joe Staley held up against Clay Matthews, you earned his only sack of the day by beating left guard Mike Iupati with a nifty swim move. Otherwise, Matthews' plays in the backfield came against read-option where he aggressively went after Kaepernick instead of waiting to see who had the ball, as he did in last season's divisional round in the playoffs.
While Frank Gore averaged just 2.1 rushes on 21 carries, he made a big impact on the game with his blocking in pass protection and down the field for his teammates. Any mistakes made by the offensive line with Kaepernick back to pass were aided by Gore as the last line of defense before defenders could reach him.
Anquan Boldin's huge day was the obvious surprise. The Packers simply had no answers as he had 13 receptions for 208 yards and a score. Kaepernick had a 139.6 QB rating and completed 76 percent of his passes when throwing his direction. Vernon Davis was also able to take advantage, notching 98 yards and two touchdowns on six catches.
"Everything we saw yesterday and talked about after the game, it was A-plus-plus," Harbaugh said. "Colin and Anquan, terrific, wonderful wonderful game. Vernon Davis and the play of the offensive line. A lot of guys to highlight after yesterday's game."
AREAS TO IMPROVE
While it's very encouraging for San Francisco to open the season with a 400-yard performance from Kaepernick, the running game will need to improve against teams with better, more experienced defensive backfields like the one they will face this week in Seattle.
Going forward, expect teams to devote their resources to Boldin and Davis forcing the running game to set things up through the air. The 49ers will also need their secondary receivers to step up. Kyle Williams caught three of his six targets for a modest 36 yards in his first game back from last season's knee injury. Williams didn't play a snap in the preseason, so it's safe to expect his role to grow in the coming weeks.
Kaepernick tried to hit Williams twice deep down the right side but was unsuccessful on both attempts. He overthrew him once and later didn't put enough air under the ball, which allowed Sam Shields to break up the pass. Sunday's game was just the third regular season game Williams and Kaepernick have played together since Kaepernick took over as the starting quarterback last season. Williams suffered his injury in Kaepernick's second start in New Orleans last November.
"It's not what we're accustomed to the last couple years with our defense. We had too many missed tackles," Harbaugh said.
The benefit of the doubt only lasts for the opening week and the 49ers should consider themselves fortunate their bad tackling didn't play a larger role in the game.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
The Seahawks are coming off a surprisingly difficult 12-7 win in Carolina to open their season. Russell Wilson threw for 320 yards while completing 25 of 33 passes. Marshawn Lynch was limited to just 43 yards on 17 carries against the Panthers' defense.
Week 1 can be tricky. There's little doubt the Seahawks are one of the elite teams in the entire league and handicapping meaning behind a close win over Carolina on the road is difficult. Seattle could have played down to its competition, the Panthers are drastically improved or some truth lies in both. One thing is for sure, the Seahawks will play much better at home at CenturyLink field, where they haven't lost since the last time San Francisco beat them there, Dec. 24, 2011.
The Seahawks' imposing defense held Cam Newton to just 163 yards of total offense, which could bode well with Kaepernick on the horizon. But without new film to work with, judging the season's first week can be an ambiguous endeavor. We'll have more on specifics of the matchup later this week.
*Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used in this report.*
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