The Packers kicked off the preseason against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago, with far fewer starters, and far less at stake. With almost every important starter or veteran sitting this one out, we got an extended look at Jordan Love’s progress in his third season, as well as preseason superstar Romeo Doubs.
Unfortunately for Love, (13/24, 176 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs) he still seems to be plagued by uneven footwork, poor accuracy, and poor decision making. while defenders were quick to jump to his defense, as two of his three first-half interceptions could fairly be categorized as flukes, he was still a mess on short throws, missing several open, and easy throws to the flat. His 3rd interception (and second of the game by San Francisco’s Samuel Womack) was a predetermined throw into a tight space to Amari Rodgers in which Love made up his mind before the play ever started.
It wasn’t all bad for Love, as his first touchdown pass, a 33-yard dime to Romeo Doubs, was a brilliant throw similar to his viral toss on family night, and late in the first half, he managed to find Danny Davis for another score. Davis was the biggest surprise on offense, getting himself open downfield repeatedly, and punching in a late first-half touchdown. The Wisconsin product has been impressive in camp and keeps giving the team reasons to keep him around.
If the offense had another bright spot, it was Tyler Goodson, who was impressive in the passing game, and showed why the team was interested enough to bring him in as an undrafted free agent.
On the other side of the ball, Trey Lance had an impressive start going 4/5 for 92 yards and a touchdown, looking much more polished than Love in the process. The 49ers also kept most of their starters out, but the Packers had no answer for Ray-Ray McCloud, or Danny Gray, who ripped off a 76-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 10-7 lead.
While the 49ers were impressive on offense, the Packer defense kept things vanilla and suffered several key injuries as the night wore on. Safety Dallin Leavitt suffered a shoulder injury in the first, and edge rusher Tipa Galeai was also forced to leave the game, leaving the team woefully thin in the pass rush. Galeai did manage to record a sack before the injury, and given his impressive camp so far, if he misses any time, it could be a serious blow to their depth. On the plus side, Kobe Jones did manage an impressive sack when the starters were still in, and after a slow start, Kingsley Enagbare did get home on a nice stunt late to bring down Nate Sudfeld in the 3rd. Upfront, Chris Slayton defensive tackle Chris Slayton was a force, and he may have had the most impressive defensive performance of the night.
In the secondary, Rico Gafford flashed a few times, recording an impressive pass defended as the battle for backup corner heats up. Overall, there’s not much to learn from this defensive effort, as the backup roles continue to shake out.
In the second half, as the backups to the backups entered, Danny Etling got the Packers in business early on a well-executed play to BJ Baylor for 68 yards, but the offense stalled out near the 49er goal line, and backup kicker Gabe Brkic hit one of the worst field goal attempts in league history. Special teams continued to be an issue, especially upfront where the 49ers once again were in the backfield far too often, and easily.
Perhaps the most positive play of the second half came on a 22-yard touchdown throw from Danny Etling to Amari Rodgers at the start of the 4th quarter. Rodgers showed nice burst and balance in shaking several would-be tacklers to find the end zone, though it appeared he did step out of bounds before punching it in.
Overall, we got an uneven performance from the Packers, highlighting both the promising young players they do have, and who have largely excelled in camp, as well as questions about their depth on the offensive line, at edge, and at in the secondary. More than anything, Jordan Love once again failed to impress, and he only has a few chances left to do so.