NFC North: 2014 Wild Card Rapid Reaction
January, 5, 2014
By Rob Demovsky | ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field:
What it means: The Packers still haven't fixed their Colin Kaepernick problem. The 49ers quarterback beat them for a third time in less than a year and the second straight year in the playoffs. He rushed for 98 yards, the second-highest total of his career behind only his 181-yard effort in last year's playoff game against the Packers. The Packers will finish the season at 8-8-1 and head into the offseason much like they did last year, with major questions about their defense.
Stock watch: It was a workman-like effort by Eddie Lacy, but his ability to keep churning out tough yards seemed to slow down the 49ers pass rush in the second half. On one drive that started late in the third quarter, Lacy ran four straight times for gains of 8, 8, 7 and 3 yards before giving way to James Starks, who picked up 6 and 10 yards on the next two rushing plays. Against the fourth-ranked rushing defense, the Packers rushed for 124 yards.
Elusive Rodgers: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers made the play of the game in fourth quarter. On fourth-and-2 from the 49ers' 30, he was sandwiched between defensive tackle Ray McDonald and linebacker Ahmad Brooks. McDonald nearly sacked Rodgers from the front, and Brooks got a hand on him from behind. But Rodgers escaped. He could have run for the first down but instead fired a pass to Randall Cobb, who got behind cornerback Perrish Cox, for a 26-yard gain. Two plays later, fullback John Kuhn scored on a 1-yard touchdown to give the Packers a 17-13 lead with 12:06 remaining.
Injuries: In addition to losing a pair of defensive starters -- cornerback Sam Shields and outside linebacker Mike Neal -- to knee injuries on the first drive, left tackle David Bakhtiari left in the fourth quarter because of a concussion.
What's next: The Packers will return to Lambeau Field on Monday to clean out their lockers and go through exit meetings before breaking for the offseason. Their 2014 workouts will resume in mid-April.