On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers lined up in a base 3-4 defense a great deal against the San Francisco 49ers — perhaps more than in any other game this season. It did not help, however, as the 49ers rolled up nearly 300 yards rushing and threw the ball only twice during the entire second half.
It was a schematic issue — Blake Martinez said the Packers never figured out what the 49ers were doing — as well as an execution issue as the team failed to either maintain integrity in their gaps or tackle consistently. The Niners’ consistent production on the ground ensured that they did not get into obvious passing situations, minimizing the impact that the Smith Brothers could have on the game.
In addition, the Packers suffered a pair of significant injuries in the secondary, with a pair of starters leaving the game without returning.
All told, it was an ugly performance as the 49ers booked their trip to the Super Bowl and the Packers headed home to clean out their lockers for the offseason.
OFFENSE (63 plays)
Aaron Rodgers 63
Despite two interceptions — one a terribly-thrown pass behind Geronimo Allison and one a heave late in the game — Rodgers managed to finish the game with a passer rating of 97.2, his best in any of the four NFC Championship Games he has played. He finally got grooving a bit late in the first half, but a fumbled snap sapped the energy out of the offense, and his pick with a minute to go in the second quarter set up another 49ers touchdown that made the score 27-0.
Rodgers looked pretty good through much of the second half, delivering the football more quickly and accurately than he had before halftime. He ended up finishing the game 31-for-39 for 326 yards, two touchdowns, and two picks, and he managed to find a few explosive plays in the passing game after the half.
Still, it was far too little, too late, as the team’s early offensive issues put the team in a hole that they dig out from.
Aaron Jones 41, Jamaal Williams 20, Tyler Ervin 11
Jones actually got off to a decent start on the ground in this game, rushing for 49 yards on nine carries in the first half. However, he finished the day with 12 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown, as the Packers were forced into hurry-up mode in the second half. Jones did catch five passes as well, adding 27 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
Williams was on the field significantly in the second half when the Packers were trying to catch up, but carried the ball just three times for six yards and caught two passes for one yard. Ervin had one reception for seven yards.
Davante Adams 61, Allen Lazard 58, Geronimo Allison 34, Jake Kumerow 19, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 1
In the first half, Lazard led the way with two receptions for 32 yards, while Kumerow had one 23-yard catch, coming to start the drive that saw the Packers move into 49ers territory before an ill-timed fumble. Meanwhile, Adams caught just one pass before halftime for seven yards.
But in the second half, the Rodgers-to-Adams connection got going, punctuated by a massive 65-yard bomb when Adams burned Richard Sherman off the line of scrimmage. He finished the day with nine catches for 138 yards, his second straight huge game; however, questions arise about why the Packers took so long to get him involved in the offense.
Jimmy Graham 27, Robert Tonyan 18, Marcedes Lewis 14, Jace Sternberger 11
Graham had a productive day in the second half, nearly finding the end zone on a great catch up the field. He was ruled down just short of the goal line, but picked up 42 yards on a great seam route. Graham finished the day with five receptions for 59 yards.
Tonyan had a particularly ugly game, however, with no pass targets and a handful of missed or blown blocks in the run game. Sternberger picked up his first NFL touchdown with an eight-yard score in the fourth quarter on a vintage Rodgers extended play, while Lewis had two receptions for 14 yards.
David Bakhtiari 63, Elgton Jenkins 63, Corey Linsley 63, Billy Turner 63, Bryan Bulaga 63
Rodgers was sacked three times in the game, but the most painful play from this unit was Linsley’s fumbled snap in the first half. The Packers drove down to the 49ers’ 25-yard line in their first solid offensive drive of the game, but Linsley snapped the ball short and DeForest Buckner recovered for the 49ers.
The line gave Rodgers enough time in most cases to make a play, with a few notable exceptions. Two of the sacks of Rodgers resulted in fumbles, with an alert Billy Turner falling on the football both times.
DEFENSE (55 plays)
Kenny Clark 50, Dean Lowry 49, Tyler Lancaster 35, Kingsley Keke 11, Montravius Adams 6
The Packers rolled out a large dose of base 3-4 in this game, due to the 49ers’ constant success running the football. It didn’t matter, as the Niners kept racking up big yardage on the ground. Clark and Lancaster finished with two tackles apiece, while Lowry had one 30 yards down field. Keke had three tackles, including one for a loss.
Preston Smith 52, Za’Darius Smith 51, Kyler Fackrell 20, Rashan Gary 3
The Packers’ edge rushers were unable to pin their ears back and rush the passer since the 49ers only dropped Jimmy Garoppolo back to pass nine times. They did land one sack and one hit — courtesy of Kyler Fackrell on a third down — but largely were unable to make a significant impact.
Blake Martinez 52, B.J. Goodson 39, Ibraheim Campbell 5, Oren Burks 3
The inside linebackers got picked on in this game, both on a few pass plays and in the run game. Martinez made nine tackles, while Goodson had five (including a TFL) but it was an ugly performance all around for the front seven.
Darnell Savage 55, Adrian Amos 31, Will Redmond 24
The Packers lost Amos to a pectoral injury at halftime, as he was injured just before the half making a tackle. With him out of the game, Redmond filled in, making a single tackle in the game.
Savage had eight tackles, including one TFL, but took some ugly angles to the ball carrier at times.
Kevin King 53, Jaire Alexander 34, Tramon Williams 24, Chandon Sullivan 8
The Packers got a pair of pass breakups out of Kevin King, the only two incompletions that Garoppolo threw in the game. Alexander broke his finger in the second half, taking him out of action and forcing Williams in to replace him. But again, with so much going on with the run, there was no real opportunity for the corners to make plays, either good or bad.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Oren Burks 23, Ty Summers 22,, Will Redmond 18, Robert Tonyan 16, Josh Jackson 14, Chandon Sullivan 14