Why was the defense so good? RB Carlos Hyde couldn't run the ball, the run defense was all over him on every carry, and QB Colin Kaepernick has no accuracy downfield. At first, he wouldn't throw the ball deep, but when he finally did start going deep, he usually threw it out of bounds. He connected on one long pass to WR Torrey Smith but that was the exception. In the first half, Kaepernick had some success on designed cut back runs, but in the second half, FS HaHa Clinton-Dix went into the box to shut it all down. There were times in the third quarter when it looked like the Packers were playing with a single deep safety, sometimes it looked like it was only 4th stringer S Chris Banjo deep, but the 49ers still couldn't take advantage of it.Packers fans turned Levi's Stadium into Lambeau Field in the second half. http://t.co/9mI0xIblTU https://t.co/Vfjyz3xyo0— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 4, 2015
With so many defenders playing near the line, and LBs Nick Perry and Jayrone Elliott adding extra pressure along with the usual suspects (Matthews, Peppers, Daniels, etc.), they overwhelmed the 49ers' underwhelming offensive line.
I'd love to write that the Packers D has stepped up, but this was more about how far Kaepernick has fallen. When the announcers start talking about how much the coaches love QB Blaine Gabbert, it's a big problem. Until Kaepernick re-discovers his accuracy, he's not a starting NFL QB.
The offense struggled and QB Aaron Rodgers was frustrated in the first half. He admitted that they were off today. It looked like all the injuries finally caught up to them. Some of the receivers didn't seem on the same page, and that probably doesn't happen if Nelson, Adams and Quarless were playing instead of Montgomery, Janis and Backman.
But no starter was missed as much as RT Bryan Bulaga. I was OK with RT Don Barclay allowing pressure as long as he didn't allow hits or sacks. However, in this game, he gave up a couple hits and sacks in addition to all the usual pressures. That allowed 49ers LB Aaron Smith to get to know Rodgers up close and personal. I doubt the coaches will make a change at this point because Bulaga should be healthy in three weeks, and then Barclay can go back to the bench.
Another problem on offense was their 3rd down conversion rate (5 for 15) which is usually around 40 to 50 percent. They were 3 for 4 on 3rd downs in the 3rd quarter, and that's the quarter in which the offense score 10 points on consecutive drives. The reasons listed above ("off today" and Barclay) caused most of the problems, but penalties were also a semi-problem. LG Josh Sitton never commits penalties and he had two holding penalties on Sunday. Barclay will still be a problem in the near future, but otherwise the offense should be much improved by returning home to Lambeau for next week's game.
It wasn't the most impressive win, but winning on the road is never easy, and they've opened up a two game lead over their next closest NFC North rival.