Packers notebook

Little-used formation a success; Driver is hurting; Jenkins up for game ball

Head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski sifted through the recycling bin before Sunday's game at San Francisco and brought the wishbone back into circulation.

The Packers used a variation of the wishbone a few times, which proved to be a vital piece of the offense's multi-faceted arsenal in the 30-19 victory.

The unorthodox formation featured halfback Ahman Green or Vernand Morency lined up behind fullbacks William Henderson and Brandon Miree.

Jagodzinski said afterward that the three-back look was added to the game plan on his suggestion at the last minute during the coaches' meetings Tuesday night.

"It was something we did at Atlanta," said Jagodzinski, who spent the previous two seasons with the Falcons. "It ended up being pretty good for us."

The wishbone made its season debut on the second play of the game, as Green gained five yards up the middle. The offense generated 39 yards out of nine running plays in the formation.

McCarthy said Monday that the new wrinkle was an offshoot of the two-back, double-tight-end run formation that's been in vogue since the start of the season.

"If you sit there and break down what we were doing schematically, the concept and the run that it fits into, the fullback position uses that technique or that particular block more often than the tight end does," McCarthy said. "(It's) just maximizing having two fullbacks because a lot of times, particularly early in the year, we would only have one fullback up. We have to continue using our players in the right way, and it was a productive personnel grouping for us yesterday."

The Packers have been a shift-heavy offense under McCarthy, but they were more reliant on motion at the line Sunday than they have been in the past. McCarthy said the 49ers' injury situation at key positions dictated the increased pre-snap movement.

"They lost their quarterback on defense in (middle linebacker) Derek Smith," McCarthy said. "(Replacement) Jeff Ulbrich is a linebacker I have a lot of respect for, but he hasn't played Mike linebacker. Things like that factored into our game planning on why we did more than we (previously) did.

"Our experience level on offense is something we pay close attention to. We did more of it (Sunday), but there are reasons why we did it."

The alterations, subtle and not-so-subtle, were a boon for an offense that has been forced to play basic schemes for much of the season because of a bevy of young players on the line and at receiver. The Packers had 420 total yards Sunday, their second-highest output of the season -- and only seven yards short of their season high, registered Nov. 5 at Buffalo.

Driver has sore shoulder
Wide receiver Donald Driver will have to take it easy this week after he came out of the 30-19 win at San Francisco on Sunday with a shoulder injury.

McCarthy said Monday that Driver was injured in the second quarter and almost didn't return after being examined at halftime. Driver responded with a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter and finished with nine catches for 160 yards.

"He really sucked it up (Sunday) coming back," McCarthy said. "I anticipate him missing (practice) Wednesday, and we'll see how he feels Thursday."

McCarthy doesn't believe the injury would keep Driver from missing the game Sunday against Detroit.

"I don't think so, knowing Donald and his history," McCarthy said.

The Packers' receiving corps, which has been short-handed most of the season, is a wounded bunch.

Rookie Greg Jennings aggravated an ankle injury in the second quarter but returned for the final two quarters.

Ruvell Martin, who had a 36-yard touchdown in the first quarter, suffered a bruised chest. He was kept overnight in a San Francisco hospital and had yet to return to Green Bay on Monday afternoon.

"It's just precautionary," McCarthy said. "I'm just playing it safe, but we'll know more about him when we get him back."

Jenkins' performance impresses coach
Versatile defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins was up for a game ball after his top-notch performance against the 49ers.

Jenkins, who has been a tackle for most of the season, took a considerable amount of snaps at right end in place of struggling Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on early downs. Gbaja-Biamila started the game, but Jenkins replaced him after Frank Gore ripped off a 72-yard run on San Francisco's second play from scrimmage.

Gore, the NFC's top rusher, was held in check the rest of the way, finishing with 130 yards on 19 carries.

"Cullen Jenkins fully took advantage of his opportunity. He played at an extremely high level both inside and outside," McCarthy said.

Jenkins moved to tackle in some passing situations. He had the only sack of Alex Smith by blowing up the interior of the 49ers' line when the Packers went with a three-man front in the third quarter.

Packer Report Top Stories