Columnist Mark Purdy's early analysis of the good and bad for the 49ers in their 34-28 victory over the Green Bay Packers here Sunday. Check back later for his full column after locker room interviews.
MARKUP — The outcome was not unexpected. But it was well earned by the 49ers against a playoff-quality opponent. Most comforting for the team's followers, quarterback Colin Kaepernick showed zero signs of being anything other than the difference-maker he was during his 10 starts last season. Kaepernick's arms and feet were equally effective -- even though by the second half, Green Bay's defense had the read-option diagnosed well and wouldn't allow Kaepernick to gain easy yards that way. So he improvised on some scrambles instead. He didn't wildly outplay Pack quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But Kaepernick, with zero interceptions and 412 yards, had a better game.
MARKDOWN — Hard to be too picky. But on the third down play with 11:03 left in the game, Kaepernick sorely underthrew Kyle Williams downfield along the right sideline, allowing Packer cornerback Sam Shields to break up the pass and forcing a 49er punt. On the other side of the ball, the Packers' drive for a go-ahead touchdown with 8:26 left was way too quick and executed way too efficiently against a defense that is supposed to be among the league's best. As it demonstrated on the next Packer drive, a three-and-out.
MARKUP — If Anquan Boldin were not on the roster, it's difficult to imagine what the 49er offense would have looked like Sunday. He was over here, over there, downfield, upfield, in the seam, catching one-handed, catching two-handed . . . you get the idea. It very much seemed as if he were trying to prove a point — probably to the Baltimore Ravens, who deemed him expendable over the winter. Still hard to believe the 49ers only had to give up a sixth-round pick for Boldin.
MARKDOWN — The other 49er wide receivers barely fogged the mirror, at least into the third quarter. At halftime, Kyle Williams had two catches for 20 yards, but they were difficult to remember. The injured Mario Manningham is scheduled to return in October. The earlier in October, the better.
MARKUP — The officials did a good job of letting things not get out of control after a second-quarter imbroglio that began when Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews wrangled Kaepernick to the turf after Kaepernick was significantly out of bounds at the Packer 6-yard line. Kaepernick was clearly upset but stayed cool after the penalty flag was pulled properly. However, 49er teammate Joe Staley ran up to Matthews and verbally confronted him. Matthews threw a forearm shiver at Staley. Mayhem ensued for several seconds. But the officials sorted out the mess, got control and kept things from boiling over.
MARKDOWN — You can understand what Staley was trying to do when he jabbered at Matthews. But the 49er offensive tackle has to find a way to make his point without drawing his own flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. If this had been hockey, Staley and Matthews would have probably dropped the gloves. But it wasn't hockey. And in the end, Staley (and the other 49ers) gained their best revenge on a touchdown pass to (who else?) Boldin on the very next play.
MARKUP — Frank Gore's blocking on blitz pickups. It's so underrated and so outstanding. Gore also threw a great downfield block on a 15-yard scramble by Kaepernick in the third quarter. He should buy Gore lunch and dinner every day of every week. Oh, almost forgot. Gore also power-drove with the ball for the touchdown that resulted in a 31-28 lead by the 49ers in the fourth quarter.
MARKDOWN — Bruce Miller, the 49er fullback, is excellent at leading interference on rush plays but still has issues on the blitz pickups. In the first half, he allowed the Pack's Matthews to storm by and lower the boom on Kendall Hunter just as he took a handoff from Kaepernick, for a 6-yard loss.
MARKUP — Eric Reid, the 49ers' top draft pick, had a very veteran-like opening day at safety. Reid's interception was a little lucky but the good defensive backs are ready for tipped passes. The most impressive part of Reid's game, however, is his tackling. He hits hard. And he hits legally. That was a problem with Dashon Goldson, who played Reid's position last season and was allowed to leave as a free agent. Goldson banged hard into opponents but too often, he banged high and questionably. In 2012, Goldson and former Baltimore Ravens defender Ed Reed (now with the Houston Texans) led the NFL in personal foul penalties. Reid demonstrated his technique best when he tackled Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson low and violently, causing Nelson to stagger a bit before leaving the field briefly. Reid also had an excellent special teams tackle on a Packer punt return. The kid's a keeper.
MARKDOWN — Randy Moss, the former 49er receiver and now television pundit, for suggesting that Kaepernick and tight end Vernon Davis lack chemistry in the pass game. They certainly looked in synch Sunday, no more so than on a gorgeous over-the-top downfield play in the third quarter that netted 37 yards. Kaepernick's touchdown throw to Davis in the first quarter was also dropped perfectly into Davis' hands as he moved across the end zone toward the back pylon.
MARKUP — Seattle is next.
MARKDOWN — We have to wait a long, long week until we see it.