Harbaugh: You don't throw for 400 yards without great protection
Vernon Davis caught six passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns, and Colin Kaepernick completed 27 of 39 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns. (AP)
Frank Gore rushed for just 44 yards on 21 carries, but his 1-yard touchdown run with 5:47 remaining gave the 49ers a 31-28 lead. (AP)
Clay Matthews was flagged for a 15-yard penalty on his late hit of Colin Kaepernick. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers did not employ the read option – the element of their game over which the Green Bay Packers obsessed over the entire offseason.
Instead, the 49ers went with a steady diet of Colin Kaepernick passes for wide receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis on Sunday during the regular-season opener.
The 49ers were not sharp with an abundance of pre-snap penalties and missed tackles, but they opened the season with a 31-28 victory over the Packers to kick off the 43rd and final season at Candlestick Park.
The Packers spent a good portion of their offseason working on ways to defend against mobile quarterbacks. Green Bay’s season ended a year ago at Candlestick when Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
On Sunday, the 49ers attempted a different approach against the Packers. With Frank Gore and the running game bottled up throughout, the 49ers turned to Kaepernick’s arm. But when they needed Gore, he came through with a 1-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 31-28 lead with 5:47 remaining.
Kaepernick completed 27 of 39 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns. Boldin, whom the 49ers acquired in an offseason trade from the Baltimore Ravens, had 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown.
Boldin also helped seal the victory with a 15-yard reception on a 4th-and-2 from the Green Bay 36-yard line with 3 minutes remaining.
Kaepernick found an uncovered Davis in the end zone early in the third quarter for a 2-yard touchdown pass that gave the 49ers a 21-14 lead.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers matched Kaepernick with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson to tie the game at 21-21 with 3:49 remaining in the third quarter.
Kaepernick engineered a 71-yard drive that resulted in Phil Dawson’s 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 24-21 lead.
Rookie Eddie Lacy capped an eight-play, 76-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown leap to give Green Bay a 28-24 advantage with 8:26 remaining.
The 49ers lined up Davis in a number of different positions in the first half. He opened the scoring for the 49ers in the first quarter when he lined up in the right slot. He beat the coverage of Packers safety M.D. Jennings on a corner route for a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick.
Bad blood: Green Bay outside linebacker Clay Matthews didn’t just talk a big game during the week leading up to Sunday’s game. He followed through with his intention of hitting Kaepernick.
However, Matthews hit – a flying clothesline – came several feet out of bounds and drew a penalty at the end of a third-down play on which Kaepernick was stopped 2 yards short.
Left tackle Joe Staley came to Kaepernick’s defense and a brief melee ensued. Staley was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. And the penalties offset. Referee Bill Leavy ruled that third-down must be replayed.
On the next play, Kaepernick hit Anquan Boldin on a 10-yard pass to give the 49ers a 14-7 lead.
Cashing in: Linebacker NaVorro Bowman stripped rookie running back Eddie Lacy of the ball in the second quarter and cornerback Tarell Brown recovered at the Green Bay 14-yard line to set up Boldin’s touchdown pass from Kaepernick.
Rookie debut: Safety Eric Reid, who was selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the draft to replace Dashon Goldson, had an eventful first game. He recorded his first career interception on a Rodgers pass to tight end Jermichael Finley that deflected off his hands.
Later, Reid had another apparent interception. The play was nullified by a penalty, so Reid, in essence, prevented a potential touchdown when Rodgers took advantage of an Aldon Smith offside penalty to throw the ball down the field on what amounted to a free play.
Wide left: Dawson got off to a rough start after taking over for David Akers, who missed more field goals last season with the 49ers than any other kicker in the NFL. Dawson hooked his first-half field-goal attempt wide left from 48 yards. The 49ers led 14-7 at the time.
Strong start: Outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who was held without a sack for the final six games of last season, did not wait long to make his mark on Sunday against Packers rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari.
Smith beat Bakhtiari to sack Rodgers on the Packers’ first pass attempt of the game. In the fourth quarter, Smith added another sack. Smith had more sacks (33.5) in his first two seasons than anyone else in the history of the NFL since the sack became an official statistic.
Inactives: The 49ers suited up four wide receivers, as newly acquired Jon Baldwin and Chris Harper were inactive. The other 49ers inactives were quarterback B.J. Daniels, running back LaMichael James, guard Joe Looney, defensive tackle Will Tukuafu and linebacker Nate Stupar. Tukuafu is a candidate to be replaced on the roster next week when Demarcus Dobbs is eligible to return from suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse.
Looking ahead: The 49ers travel to face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night (5:30 p.m.). The Seahawks opened the season with a 12-7 victory at the Carolina Panthers.