Smith outshines Rodgers in 49ers' victory


Smith outshines Rodgers in 49ers' victory

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Quarterback Alex Smith did not throw for as many yards as Aaron Rodgers, but he did everything else better on Sunday.It's Week 1 of the NFL season, and the 49ers wasted no time in getting a marquee 30-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers, a team ESPN The Magazine predicted would finish with a 16-0 record.So much for Packers perfection. The 49ers played a top-notch all-around game to register the franchise's first victory at Lambeau Field in eight tries, spanning 22 years.And Smith was not just along for the ride. He broke the team record, previously held by Steve Young, for most consecutive passes without throwing an interception while orchestrating a balanced offensive attack.
"I thought he was great," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "All game he used his legs, his arm, his mind, his toughness. He was really efficient tonight, and he had a heck of a ballgame."Smith completed 20 of 26 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 125.6. He was sacked four times, as left tackle Joe Staley had his struggles against Green Bay outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who recorded 2.5 sacks.Rodgers, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, completed 30 of 44 attempts for 303 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman's interception of Rodgers was the only turnover of the game. And it led directly to Frank Gore's 23-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. Gore finished with 112 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries."I think we played good team football for 60 minutes," Smith said. "It wasn't perfect, by any means. But everyone was helping each other and executing. It's tough to come in here on the road on opening day in a loud place, a lot of things against you. And we were able to come out with a win."Said Rodgers, "It's one game. This is a team that was in the NFC championship game last year. It's a good team. Hopefully, we see them down the playoffs."And if there is a meeting in January, the 49ers took a huge step toward ensuring that game would take place in Candlestick Park. With the head-to-head victory, the 49ers would own the tie-breaker advantage. But that's getting way ahead of ourselves.In the immediate future, the 49ers gave a glimpse Sunday of what can be expected from an offense that gave very few clues during the exhibition season.
Smith made good use of the 49ers' improved corps of wide receivers. He targeted Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham on 17 passes. He completed 15 of those pass attempts.Crabtree led the way with seven catches for 76 yards. Manningham had four receptions for 29 yards.Moss had a successful return to football in a familiar place. He sat out last season. He played his first seven seasons for the Minnesota Vikings, and played eight times previously at Lambeau Field.Moss, who played approximately 20 of the 49ers' 62 offensive snaps in the game, had four catches for 47 yards. His 14-yard scoring pass from Smith gave the 49ers a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter."We got what we were looking for and he (Moss) blew open," said Smith, who also tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. "I think his eyes lighted up bigger than mine and he made a great catch. I'm happy for him to get that touchdown out of the way, so he doesn't have to deal with that."It was Moss' 154th career touchdown, one more than Terrell Owens, and it moved him into second place all-time in NFL history behind Jerry Rice's 197 touchdown catches. Fourteen of Moss' touchdowns have come against the Packers -- the record for opposing players.It was also a record-setting day for Smith, who now has attempted 185 regular-season passes without throwing an interception. Young held the record at 184, which he set in 1993. And Smith's mark does not include the 68 pass attempts in two playoff games without an interception."For me, just making good decisions and being smart with the football," Smith said. "It starts with that, and I think we did a good job of that tonight."Smith was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft. Rodgers was the 24th overall selection. But it's Rodgers who has turned into, perhaps, the best player in the game. Rodgers and Smith have remained close, and Rodgers last week showed great support for Smith during a conference call with Bay Area reporters."It's humbling," Smith said. "You know he is arguably playing the quarterback position as well as it has ever been played. You look at last year, what he did, numbers aside, just his play on the field and as good as he was last year. It's humbling when a guy like that gives you a compliment."

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.”