The San Francisco 49ers got their 2012 campaign off to a rip-roaring start yesterday afternoon as they stormed into Lambeau Field and truly did look like a team on a mission as Patrick Willis described them. Although the game got tight late, the 49ers defense stepped up with a couple key plays and the team left Lambeau Field sitting at 1-0.
In watching the 49ers yesterday, we saw a first team offense and defense that both looked very little like the squad that seemed to half sleep-walk through the preseason. This game might have been sufficient proof that the 49ers defense was mostly bored in August. The Packers got some points late and kept it close at the end, but if you bring back that punt return TD on the shoulda-been called illegal block in the back, this game is likely not nearly as close.
Whatever the case with referee miscues, the 49ers showed something quite impressive on offense. The team did not go into some kind of wild spread offensive attack with their new weapons. Rather, they opened things up with the receivers on the shorter stuff. They took what the defense gave them, but not in terms of dump-offs like we are used to. One of the most notable stats might be that Bruce Miller and Frank Gore combined for two receptions among the teams running backs and fullbacks.
Instead, we saw the team spreading the wealth with four receivers catching at least four passes. That's not huge for offenses like the Saints, but considering what we saw last year, this is a big deal. The offense brought an eclectic mix of weapons to the game and Greg Roman got creative. I still think they could have gone for the throat a bit more late, but a win is a win is a win.
The offense will continue to have work to do, but for game one, I liked what I saw. Alex Smith completed 20 of 26 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Frank Gore rushed 16 times for 112 yards, while Kendall Hunter added in 41 yards. Michael Crabtree hauled in seven passes for 76 yards, many of which resulted in critical conversions.
As for the defense and special teams? Oh, don't worry. We'll get to those in due time!