The Packers could not have hoped for a better start. However what began as a flying first quarter crashed badly in the second half, as the Green Bay Packers fell in San Francisco 45-31. Colin Kaepernick stole the show, setting an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game with 181 yards and 2 touchdowns, while throwing for 263 yards and 2 more touchdowns. The Packers’ offense fought valiantly, but was doomed by turnovers and ultimately did not have enough to keep up with San Francisco.
While the 49ers’ defense has been lauded all season, it was Green Bay’s that came through first in a clash of two storied NFL franchises. Sam Shields put the Packers up early by intercepting Kaepernick and running it back 52 yards to put Green Bay up 7-0 early. San Francisco responded with a 20 yard TD run by Kaepernick, but DuJuan Harris answered with an 18 yard run up the middle to keep Green Bay on top. Kaepernick then hit Michael Crabtree after a muffed punt on Green Bay’s own 9, and then hit him again after a Rodgers interception for back to back scores to put San Francisco up 21-14. Rodgers bounced back, by finding James Jones to tie the game. Just before halftime, though, San Francisco went ahead on a David Akers field goal, and it was 24-21 at the half. In the second half, Green Bay answered with a field goal of its own, before Colin Kaepernick made the Packers’ defense look like it was running in quicksand. On a designed option, Kaepernick kept the ball and ran to his right, where an alley had opened up. He burst through and ran 56 yards untouched into the endzone, outrunning the entire defense and giving the 49ers a lead they did not give up. Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon both scored on 2 yard runs to put the game out of reach, before Rodgers found Greg Jennings with just a couple of minutes left to get the final score of 45-31.
For the Packers, it was an unceremonious exit to what had become a promising season. The Packers hit their stride mid-season and seemed to be on their way to a first round bye, before losing to Minnesota and having to face them again. Perhaps the added wear and tear affected them in the second half of a grueling game on Saturday, but that will remain a question that may never be answered. Now the Packers are left to look towards next season, in hopes of finding Super Bowl glory once again.