Preseason Game Breakdown: 49ers vs. Packers

Scoring summary, key plays, what went right and wrong for the 49ers and what units stood out among the others for San Francisco during Saturday night's 34-6 exhibition blowout of the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Score by quarters
Packers 3 0 0 3 – 6
49ERS 0 14 10 10 – 34

Paid attendance: 67,230

Preseason records: 49ers 1-1, Packers 0-2

All-time pre-season series: 49ers lead 3-1

Statistic that stands out: The 49ers held a 355-182 advantage in total yards against an opponent that reached the NFC championship game last season. At halftime, San Francisco had out-gained the Packers 233-46.

Play to remember: With 1:07 remaining in the first half, Niners quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan dropped back to pass on a second-and-10 play from the San Francisco 41. O'Sullivan set up in the pocket and looked left to find rookie Josh Morgan streaking wide open. Morgan had burst off the line, easily breaking away from bump coverage from Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush. Safety Nick Collins was slow to get over and pick up Morgan, who continued to glide down the right side with nobody next to him. O'Sullivan put the ball on Morgan's hands 35 yards down the field, and the rookie did the rest. Morgan caught the ball in stride and turned on the burners to elude Collins, then displayed his lower body strength to break a diving tackle attempt by safety Atari Bigby inside the 10-yard line. Morgan strolled into the end zone to complete the 59-yard touchdown strike that put the 49ers ahead 14-3 at halftime and set the tone for a convincing rout.

Play to forget: On a third-and-five play from the San Francisco 13, O'Sullivan attempted a quick pass over the middle intended for tight end Vernon Davis, but threw it instead right into the hands of Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson, who looked like the intended receiver on the play. Woodson would have returned the pick for a touchdown, but dropped the ball as he began taking it the other way. He eventually swatted the ball out of bounds to retain possession for the Packers, who had to settle for a field goal despite the short field. O'Sullivan appeared to force the ball into heavy coverage. "I'll take the blame for that one," said O'Sullivan, sounding like a player who felt the blame deserved to go elsewhere.


First quarter: Packers (1:53) Mason Crosby 31-yard field goal.

Second quarter: 49ers (4:15) DeShaun Foster 1-yard run (Joe Nedney kick); 49ers (0:58) Josh Morgan 59-yard pass from J.T. O'Sullivan (Nedney kick).

Third quarter: 49ers (8:24) Nedney 49-yard field goal; Packers (7:07) Crosby 49-yard field goal; 49ers (2:56) Moran Norris 1-yard run (Ricky Schmitt kick).

Fourth quarter: 49ers (9:55) Schmitt 30-yard field goal; 49ers (3:15) Allen Rossum 67-yard punt return (Schmitt kick).


All-around performance: It was just an exhibition game, but this was the most complete effort by the 49ers in their four years under Mike Nolan – preseason or regular season. Generally speaking, the 49ers got standout play from the offense, defense and special teams. That's the kind of combined effort that usually leads to a four-touchdown blowout of one of the NFC's preseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl.

Morgan stands out again: This Josh Morgan kid, he's the real deal. After an auspicious pro debut last week against the Raiders, when Morgan had game highs in both receptions and receiving yards, the rookie did it again Saturday by leading all receivers with five receptions for 114 yards, including a spectacular 59-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Morgan also got behind coverage for what would have been another long-gainer – and possibly long touchdown – but Alex Smith's pass was short and was broken up at the last minute.

Reserve receivers make plays: In addition to Morgan, who could be working his way into a prominent role in San Francisco's passing game but still is listed as a backup behind projected starters Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson, Dominique Zeigler and Jason Hill also made a big impression Saturday. With Johnson, Arnaz Battle and Ashley Lelie out with injuries – and Bruce only playing a few series – Morgan, Zeigler and Hill stole the show. Zeigler had several nice receptions and finished with four for 42 yards. Hill had two receptions for 46 yards – including a 27-yarder – and also evaded defenders and broke tackles during a 14-yard run on a reverse.

Quarterbacks coming along: It wasn't a great performance by any means by San Francisco's quarterbacks, but it was a step in the right direction for both J.T. O'Sullivan and Alex Smith, who both made plays and moved the offense and displayed progress in the pocket running the Mike Martz offense.

Pass rush breaks loose: The 49ers finished with six sacks, including four in the first half with the first unit in the game. Ray McDonald had 1.5 sacks with the first-teamers and Tully Banta-Cain had sacks and forced fumbles on back-to-back plays in the second half. In all, six different San Francisco defenders were credited with at least half a sack.

Fixing on fumbles: The aggressive and opportunistic San Francisco defense forced five fumbles, pouncing on three of them.

Rossum the return specialist: Allen Rossum has the career numbers that say he's one of the best return specialist in NFL history, and he showed why those numbers don't like on his spinning, weaving, tackle-breaking, run-away-from-defenders 67-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the game to put the icing on the cake for the 49ers. It was one of those explosive ‘Wow' returns the 49ers haven't had much of in the past few years.

Controlling the ball: The 49ers held an edge in time of possession, controlling the ball slightly more than 32 minutes. The 49ers were at the very bottom of the NFL in this department last year, so this is a clearly a sign of improvement that could be felt throughout the team during its lopsided victory.


Slow start for J.T.: He came on strong at the end of the first half, leading San Francisco to touchdowns on his final two drives, but J.T. O'Sullivan started out very slowly, starting out 3 for 10 passing on San Francisco's first four offensive drives. One of those throws was an ugly interception by Green Bay's Charles Woodson that would have resulted in a Packers touchdown had Woodson not fumbled the ball on his return. The 49ers recovered admirably for O'Sullivan's slow start, but that's not something they can always count on happening.

Special teams coverage breakdowns: For the second consecutive preseason game, San Francisco's coverage teams – one of the team's strengths last season – displayed some holes and breakdowns. The 49ers allowed Green Bay 210 yards on seven kickoff returns, a 30-yard average, including returns of 58 and 56 yards by rookie Jordy Nelson.

Alex off target: Alex Smith displayed some progress, but he had two conspicuous incompletions while going 5 of 12 passing for 62 yards in his one quarter of action. Smith had Josh Morgan behind a defender deep down the right side early in the third quarter, but he could not get the ball there on what could have been a huge play – maybe even a touchdown. Later in the quarter, he had the ball in the right spot but overthrew a wide-open Jason Hill in the back of the end zone on what would have been a touchdown play.


Defensive line: They were flagged for jumping offsides a few times, but the guys up front did a great job and really took the initiative, particularly when the first-teamers were in the game. Green Bay had only 14 net yards rushing in the first half, and Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Justin Smith and Ronnie Fields – among others – all stood out while making plays. Tully Banta-Cain finished with a team-high five tackles and had sacks/forced fumbles on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter.

Offensive line: A strong effort for a unit that was shaky in the preseason opener. San Francisco quarterbacks had plenty of time to throw – "I don't know if I was ever even touched," starting quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan said – and the offensive line did not allow a sack the entire game. There also were some nice holes opened in the early going for the running game as lead backs Frank Gore and DeShaun Foster finished with a combined 66 yards on 17 carries.

Secondary: It was an excellent job by the defensive backfield keeping plays in front of them and basically shutting down one of the NFC's top passing games of last season. The Packers finished with only 143 yards passing and averaged a paltry 6.9 yards per reception. Of Green Bay's top four leading receivers on Saturday, only one caught a pass that gained more than six yards.

Special teams: Take away a few glitches by the kickoff return unit, and it was an outstanding game for San Francisco's special teams. Allen Rossum had an impressive 67-yard punt return for a touchdown, Joe Nedney drilled a 49-yard field-goal attempt and Ricky Schmitt was true on a 30-yarder, the 49ers had three of their five punts downed inside the Green Bay 20-yard line, and their punt coverage unit allowed only eight total yards on two punt returns.

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