Packers Offense Recap In Victory Over 49ers: Meet James Starks

Just another great game by the Green Bay Packers offense with 410 total yards and 34 points. The 49ers had the No. 10 overall defense according to Football Outsiders coming into this game, so this was no easy target. QB Aaron Rodgers had his 4th straight game with a completion percentage of over 70%. His lowest quarterback rating over that four game span was 114.5 (his highest was 141.3).

The big surprise was the appearance of rookie 6th round RB James Starks. Prior to this game, he hadn't played any football since 2008, and I didn't expected he'd get many carries. Instead he had two on their first drive and 18 overall. According to the Packers twitter, his 78 rushing yards were the most by a rookie RB in his first game since 1948.

When Starks was drafted, I expected he'd be used to play the role of RB Ryan Grant, if needed, and I didn't expect he'd be a 3rd down type of back. At 6'2" and 218 lbs., he's almost the same stature as Grant, and he even has a similar upright running style. His strength and speed past the line of scrimmage are similar too, but he didn't (yet) show the ability to make defenders miss. He didn't show Grant's vision with which he could turn a good gain into a 20+ yard run. 

More after the jump, and more on this game from Niners Nation.

Four Quarters

The first drive was a good mix of pass and run to get the ball down to the 49ers 6 yard line, 1st-and-goal. Then the drive stalled with a couple incompletions, and finally a missed 29 yard field goal. A fourteen play drive that eats up over seven minutes, and leaves you with zero points, is very unsatisfying. When the offense went three-and-out on their next series, it felt like the offense was out of sync. 

Another three-and-out started the second quarter. WR James Jones almost seemed to give up on a deep ball that was just a couple of feet away, after he had beaten the cornerback deep. With almost 20 minutes gone by, WR Greg Jennings only had 10 yards and I wanted them to get him involved. Soon after, apparently Rodgers heard my thoughts, he connected on a 57 yard touchdown pass to Jennings. He had only beaten the cornerback by a step (which was just enough) and then fought through the safety for the final few yards into the end zone. On their next drive, they took advantage of a short field that left them needing only 50 yards, and scored on FB John Kuhn's 1 yard touchdown run. Kuhn's stat line wasn't impressive (6 carries for 13 yards), but he was four-for-four converting on 3rd down, plus that touchdown. He did exactly what they needed from him in short yardage. They had one more change for a last second score in the half, but a rare streak of three incompletions forced them to punt. 

The third quarter was another quarter for big pass plays. First was the 61 yard touchdown pass to WR Donald Driver, when he ran through several tackles for the score. Second was a 48 yard reception by Jennings down the middle to the 49ers 3 yard line. Jennings was then left open for a 1 yard touchdown pass to the right a couple minutes later.

The fourth quarter started with a drive that began in the third quarter. After a 20 yard punt return set up good field position again, they convert a couple times on 3rd down to drive for another field goal to pad their lead. After the 49ers fifth three-and-out, the Packers ran a lot on a 17 play, 8:35 epic drive that ate up the clock and led to another lead padding field goal. QB Matt Flynn came in on the final drive to take a knee and end the game. 

Individual Analysis

Aaron Rodgers. I mention him nearly every week, and for good reason. He did take a couple sacks while in field goal range, and committed an intentional grounding penalty in the 1st quarter. But he was nearly flawless otherwise, and his deep passes to Jennings were great. 

Greg Jennings. His hot streak continues with another six catch game, and his two touchdown receptions push his total up to eleven on the year.

James Starks. I wrote about him at the beginning of this post. An impressive debut.

Donald Driver. That 61 yard touchdown reception was a thing of beauty. Get out of his way!

The offensive line. They had a lousy run blocking game last week against Falcons, but they kept the 49ers out of the backfield, and gave Starks and RB Brandon Jackson some room to work with. The stats showed 4 sacks allowed, but those were as much coverage sacks as anything. Arguably their best game as a group this season.

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