49ers slow down high-powered Packers offense

September 10, 2012, 2:59 am
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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.