49ers slow down high-powered Packers offense


49ers slow down high-powered Packers offense


GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- The Green Bay Packers' powerful passing game forced one of the 49ers' best defensive players off the field.Linebacker Patrick Willis was taken off the field as part of the 49ers' defensive alignment of six defensive backs. Cornerback Perrish Cox saw significant action as the sixth cornerback."It's difficult to take him (Willis) off the field," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said after the 49ers' 30-22 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday. "But it's either that or he has to line up on a receiver sometimes, which he did a couple of times."Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga played just four snaps in the entire game. Instead, the 49ers decided to employ extra defensive backs throughout the game to cover Packers receivers of Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones and Randall Cobb.MAIOCCO: Smith outshines Rodgers in 49ers' victory
"Along the defensive front, I thought they played tremendous," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of his team. "They played a gap short the entire game but still were able to do a job on their run game."Packers running back Cedric Benson could not take advantage of the situation, as he gained just 18 yards on nine carries. He gained 12 yards on six rushing attempts in the first half."That was one of the keys," Fangio said. "They made a pretty conscious effort to try to run the ball in the first half. Some of those (defensive) calls were good calls for the run. Even when they weren't good calls, our guys made the plays."But, ultimately, it was the 49ers' pass defense that preserved the victory. Trailing by eight points, the Packers took over at their own 16-yard line with 3:37 remaining. After two first downs moved the ball to the 49ers' 45, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks recorded a sack of Aaron Rodgers. And on fourth down, third cornerback Chris Culliver broke up a deep pass intended for Nelson."Coach put us in a great position, and I just made a play when it was my time," Culliver said. "I knew he was going to go deep."While first-team All-Pro Patrick Willis watched more from the sideline than he's ever been while healthy in the NFL, fellow first-team All-Pro NaVorro Bowman had a strong performance.Bowman led the 49ers with 11 tackles and baited Rodgers into a critical fourth-quarter interception. On the next play, Frank Gore scored on a 23-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers a 30-15 lead."Coming into this game, just knowing that this is the 'hot-shot team' or the best team in the last couple years, it just makes a huge statement all across the league," Bowman said. "It just shows how much work we've been putting in and how hard the coaches have been working. Everyone together is getting on the same page. We still have a lot of work to do but this is definitely a great start for us."Rodgers completed 30 of 44 passes for 303 yards. His two touchdown passes were the only times the Packers got into the end zone against the 49ers' defense. Cobb victimized the 49ers' punt-coverage unit with a 75-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter."Our guys played well," Fangio said. "To hold this team to 14 points at home is a tall task. Really, a lot of the credit goes to our offense to move the ball. We couldn't afford for this game to be where they had 14 or 15 possessions."The Packers had just 10 possessions, including three drives in which the 49ers held them without a first down. The Packers averaged 35 points per game last season.

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Coach Kyle Shanahan walked into a position with the 49ers in which he had no quarterbacks on the roster.

On the first two days of free agency, the 49ers added Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. He determined they were better fits for the offense he would be installing over Colin Kaepernick, who started 64 regular-season and postseason games for the 49ers over the past 4 ½ seasons.

Shanahan appeared to be looking for quarterbacks who are more proficient at going through progressions and making plays from the pocket. Kaepernick was not deemed as a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think Colin has a certain skillset that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in.

“When we first looked at it, you got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to put in a different type of offense.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager John Lynch has confirmed the 49ers would have released Kaepernick if he had not opted out of his deal.

“The type of offense I wanted to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ top target in free agency was Hoyer, who enters his ninth NFL season with his sixth different team. Shanahan was offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 in Hoyer’s second and final season with the club.

Hoyer started five games with Chicago in 2016 before getting sidelined with broken left arm. Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions in 200 attempts.

“All these questions about what I like in a quarterback, Brian is like that,” Shanahan said. “He’s obsessed with the game. He will learn your offense. He’ll be able to execute and run it. That gives other guys a chance to perform in your offense. If your quarterback can’t execute it and go through it, it doesn’t always matter what the O-line or the receivers are doing.

“With Brian, you have a very smart guy who works at it, will hang in the pocket and is fearless, will keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball to the right spots. It gives people a chance to be successful.”

The 49ers also reached a contract agreement with Barkley, who started six games with the Bears due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Hoyer. Barkley saw the most extensive playing time of his career. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Just watching Matt since college, Matt’s always been a solid player, even coming out and playing at an early age at (USC),” Shanahan said. “He’s battle-tested in that way. He’s gone through the pressure of college, the pressure of the draft, being in the NFL, being with some different teams. Even watching Matt in Chicago this year, I think he played better this year than he has throughout his career. That means the guy is continuing to work at it.”

The 49ers figure to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, so the team is not finished at the quarterback position.

“We’ll look to add anyone who can really help us,” Shanahan said. “I’m very happy with the two we got. You know we’re not only going to take two to camp. So we got to see how the draft works out and then you see what else is out there.”

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”