The big news coming out of the Green Bay Packers’ 21-10 preseason victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Friday night was that two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers did finally play, and played well. Rodgers stayed in the game for the Packers’ first two series, throwing nine passes and completing six for 60 yards and a touchdown.
After Rodgers left the game, the Packers got a gritty performance from Joe Callahan, who was 16/24 for 167 yards and a score of his own. Callahan’s night included several connections with rookie receiver Geronimo Allison, as well as a scoring pass to Jared Abbrederis in the third quarter.
All told, the Packers ran for nearly 150 yards once again as Eddie Lacy had another nice start to the game; the fourth-year starter ripped off a long run of 21 yards and totaled seven carries for 45 yards on the game.
Here’s how the game went down.
The Packers’ defense got off to a strong start, as Clay Matthews made a tackle on 49ers running back Carlos Hyde on the first play of the game. After forcing a three-and-out, the Packers’ offense took over with Aaron Rodgers under center for the first time this preseason. However, the offensive line struggled to get any significant push and the Packers were forced to punt.
Green Bay’s defense then got shredded on the next drive, as the 49ers went to work with Blaine Gabbert leading the way. After a 27-yard run by Hyde, Gabbert found Quinton Patton for a short 3-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
Rodgers and the Packers struck back immediately, however. The offense led a 14-play drive, highlighted by a pair of receptions by Randall Cobb for 9 and 15 yards to pick up first downs. Green Bay even converted a 4th-and-2 from the 8-yard line, as James Starks just barely got the football over the line to gain. Ultimately the drive ended with Rodgers finding Cobb on a play that was originally a run, and Cobb planted his foot and scampered into the end zone for a tying touchdown.
Rodgers’ night was done after that play, however, but the rest of the first-team offense stayed out with Joe Callahan for a while. Likewise, Gabbert was done after two series and gave way to Colin Kaepernick, who played the rest of the first half. Neither offense did anything significant until the final drive of the second quarter, when the Packers converted a pair of fourth downs and got the ball down to the 5-yard line. However, on fourth-and-goal with the clock running out, Callahan’s pass to John Crockett was both ill-advised and poorly located and the clock ran out with the score still tied.
The Packers opened the second half with the ball, and Callahan went to work. He hooked up with Geronimo Allison for a pair of big conversions - one on a third and long and one on fourth-and-9. He then ran a bootleg to the right from the 18-yard line and threw a perfect dart to a crossing Jared Abbrederis for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
After swapping several punts, the 49ers drove down with Jeff Driskel under center, using the read-option to fool the second-team defense on occasion. However, the defense held once the Niners reached the red zone, keeping them to a field goal.
The legend of Callahan grew another notch on the next series. One play after taking a sack for a loss of 10 yards, the young quarterback had to scramble away from pressure but heaved a ball downfield intended for Allison. The Illinois prospect made a terrific mid-air adjustment to the football and came down with a contested 51-yard reception, setting the Packers up at the 49ers’ 19. Brandon Burks then finished the drive off on the next play, cutting back to the right and scampering for a touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
Christian Ponder took over at quarterback on the next series, and promptly threw an interception on his first series, as safety Marwin Evans stepped in front of a pass along the sideline. Following that pick, both teams traded punts and essentially ran out the clock with ineffective third-team offenses.
The Packers’ punting competition continued tonight, as both Tim Masthay and Peter Mortell continued their inconsistent performances. Both players ripped off 49-yard kicks, but they each also had less impressive boots as well and neither player can still claim that he has taken charge of the battle.
Green Bay’s preseason finale will be held next Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Aaron Rodgers played well in limited action. Tight end Jared Cook also looked very impressive, catching four passes for 54 yards and generally playing like the big, physical target that he appears to be. Lacy played well on the ground, while the Packers got some nice performances on defense from Nick Perry and Datone Jones.