RE: Dear Kevin

Dear Rahul,

Thanks for your little “letter” to me. I have quite a bit to say in response, so thought it would be best to reply in a blog post rather than a lengthy comment.

Yes, the 49ers won the game. Yes, they looked good, better than the Packers. And yes, I did say the Packers would win.

To say San Francisco “ran all over” the Packers defense isn’t saying much though. You do realize that Green Bay had the worst defense in the league last year, right? Although there was a lot of pre-season hype about this year’s version of that defense being much improved, there wasn’t much evidence of that on Sunday. In fact, the defense actually looked worse. After a lot of thought put into it Sunday night, I came to the conclusion that the Green Bay defensive personnel may not actually fit the 3-4 scheme its playing. The defensive line isn’t taking up the space they’re supposed to and is making the two middle linebackers defend much more rushing territory than they should be.

Additionally, the outside linebackers, while solid pass rushers, simply can’t cover the flats. This is why Alex Smith looked like a Pro Bowler on Sunday. He was throwing a lot of slants and outs. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry simply aren’t quick enough laterally to adequately defend the flats. The runs and dinks and dumps by San Francisco dominated the clock.

Onto your comparison of the San Francisco running game against the Green Bay running game. Uh, there’s no real comparison there. The Packers really attempted nine runs in that game. The box score shows more attempts, but those additional ones were scrambles and broken plays, not real attempts. Comparing the two teams’ running games is like comparing my hair to yours. One is abundant and flowing. The other, well, is an attempt to be there, but…

Rodgers did throw for a ton of yards, but didn’t really look like himself until the final 8 minutes of the game. In fact, the entire Green Bay offense didn’t look like itself until the very end. Was this due to good defense? Somewhat, but not entirely…more on that later.

What I’m really saying with my responses to you is that you shouldn’t get too cocky. We discovered that the Packers were overrated going into the game. Very overrated. So enjoy it for now, but keep some perspective. Over the past few years, the teams that have been hot at the beginning of the year, were not so hot come playoff time – including my Packers last year.

Since you decided to get arrogant about one win, one win….in the first week of the season…, I’ll bring a few things up that might want to make you think twice about how loud you brag about one win. Most of these are deeper issues that may not be obvious to a lot of people. They stuck out to me. I see things that you may not (During the Washington-New Orleans game I commented to my fiancee that the Redskins seemed to be running a modified version of RGIII’s college offense, helping him feel comfortable and leading to his great showing. On Monday, Trent Dilfer made the same comment, almost verbatim on ESPN).

-The referees. That officiating crew was without a doubt the worst one I’ve ever seen. There were so many missed calls, a number of which I’ll touch on lower down this list. Yes, they made bad calls both ways (indeed, they gave the Packers a free touchdown on that Randall Cobb punt return), but for the first 50 minutes of the game, they made (or didn’t make…) bad calls that greatly benefited the 49ers.

-Joe Staley and the referees part II. How many times was that guy allowed to false start? I counted four times on just one drive. A real officiating crew would’ve called those and put some kinks in those long Niner drives. But think beyond game one because, yes, it’s over and it doesn’t matter now. The strength of your offensive line might have some problems when he visits loud stadiums. Lambeau isn’t that loud compared with some other places. Good luck when you visit CenturyLink Field, the Edward Jones Dome and the Superdome. Those places are LOUD.

-Carlos Rogers and the referees part III. Rogers underperformed for his first six season in the league then suddenly had a pro bowl season in his seventh season. After watching his performance against Green Bay I have to ask, was last year a fluke? Did the rest of the defense make Rogers look much better than what he actually is? I ask because the 31 year old looked like he’s lost a step (or two). The wannabe referees missed countless pass interference calls against San Francisco. I felt like every couple minutes when Green Bay was on offense there was a missed call against San Francisco’s secondary. And if you really watched closely, you would’ve seen that a majority of those calls would’ve gone against Rogers – of course, if the referee crew had been a real one, these would’ve been called. If I were an opposing offensive coordinator, I would target Rogers.

-Alex Smith. You said you’re no Alex Smith fan. You probably don’t want to jump on that bandwagon just yet. As I mentioned earlier, Green Bay’s weak defense opened up the flats and also the middle of the field (one of Green Bay’s starting middle linebackers, Desmond Bishop, is hurt and missed the game) to be vulnerable to short slants and outs. That was where Smith did most of his damage – not on deep routes (still his weak spot). Most 3-4 defenses in the NFL are actually built to defend well against that type of passing attack.

-Injuries. San Francisco had remarkable luck in not facing any major injury issues last year. Their depth was never really tested. That type of luck rarely is seen two years in a row. As we get deeper into the season, let’s see how good the Niner reserves are.

I’m not trying to burst your bubble. Ok, yes I am. Coming from a formerly cocky fan, you may want to be careful how arrogant you get over one win in the first week of the season.

Your angry, bitter neighborhood Packers fan