Upon Further Review: Packers Week 1

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
12:00
PM ET
A review of four hot issues from the Green Bay Packers' 34-28 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

[+] EnlargeEddie Lacy
AP Photo/Jeff ChiuThe 49ers were able to hold Eddie Lacy to only 41 yards on 14 carries.
Running in place: As productive as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in the passing game, throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns (with one interception on a ball that went off the hands of tight end Jermichael Finley), there were little or no signs of life in the running game that coach Mike McCarthy seemed so committed to improving this offseason. The Packers averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 19 attempts. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy didn't have much room to run, but he didn't break many tackles, either, on the way to a 14-carry, 41-yard day that included a lost fumble.

Feast or famine: An examination of the Packers' possession and drive chart showed it was either feast or famine for Rodgers & Co. On nearly half of their possessions, they failed to gain a first down. They had 13 total possessions in the game. On six of them, they failed to move the chains. Five of those drives ended with punts while the other was Lacy's fumble. Their inability to sustain drives was evident in the time-of-possession battle, which they lost. The 49ers had the ball for 38 minutes and 35 seconds, while the Packers had it for just 21:25. An improved running game would have helped.

Coaching decision: Perhaps McCarthy will offer a further explanation for his decision to accept an illegal formation penalty on the 49ers in the second quarter rather than taking his chances on a fourth-and-1. On third-and-1 from the Packers' 5-yard line, 49ers running back Frank Gore was stopped for no gain before the penalty was announced. Declining it would have meant the 49ers would have to decide whether to go for it on fourth down or settle for a field goal. Instead, McCarthy took the penalty, making it third-and-6 at the 10-yard line. On the next play, offsetting penalties (which were improperly assessed) nullified the play. On the next snap, the 49ers scored a touchdown that put them ahead 14-7.

Defensive help: The Packers' secondary struggled without a pair of key players -- safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Casey Hayward. Both missed the game because of hamstring injuries, and the 49ers attacked the Packers up the middle. Surely, the Washington Redskins will look at how Colin Kaepernick went after the middle of the Packers defense and threw for 412 yards, and they will try a similar approach Sunday at Lambeau Field. The Packers need the playmaking ability of Hayward, who had a team-high six interceptions last season, and the steadiness of Burnett to shore up the passing defense.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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