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Sunday, December 5, 2010
Wrap-up: Packers 34, 49ers 16

By Mike Sando

Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 34-16 defeat at Green Bay in Week 13:

What it means: Nothing much changed for the 49ers in the bigger picture because a victory at Green Bay was always a long shot. Beating the Packers would have been huge. Losing to them was the expected result. San Francisco needs to win its remaining division games against Seattle, St. Louis and Arizona. The 49ers might need some help, too. They played the Packers tough for a while, but they weren't going to win a shootout, particularly while settling for field goals. This game showed, again, that the 49ers' defense can be vulnerable.

What I liked: The 49ers made big plays in the passing game. Troy Smith found Vernon Davis for a 66-yard touchdown and for a 20-yarder on third-and-6 when the 49ers needed to sustain a third-quarter drive. He found Michael Crabtree for a 39-yard reception. On defense, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks had two sacks.

What I didn't like: The hit-and-miss nature of the 49ers' offense means the team makes occasional big plays without sustaining drives well enough. Smith completed 40 percent of his passes, an unacceptable rate. The 49ers struggled on third down, more the norm than the exception. A critical third-quarter drive stalled after Davis couldn't handle a deep pass and Ted Ginn Jr. failed to get his second foot down inbounds on another potential big-gainer. The 49ers needed to keep pace with Green Bay at that point in the game. On defense, the 49ers allowed big plays in the passing game, a problem they tried to fix by getting younger and more athletic at safety. Lots of teams struggle against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but the 49ers should be better on defense given their personnel and continuity on that side of the ball. Of course, it would help if their offense would sustain drives more consistently.

Big Revelation: Life without Frank Gore wasn't so bad when the 49ers were playing the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. The 49ers missed him against the Packers. Anthony Dixon and Brian Westbrook averaged less than 4 yards per carry. They combined for one reception.

What's next: The 49ers return home to face the Seahawks in Week 14 at Candlestick Park.