The Green Bay Packers suffered another gut-wretching loss to the San Francisco 49ers — their fourth in two seasons — this time falling 23-20 in a wild card game.
The only difference between this game and the other three was it was actually close until the end. The Packers now begin the long offseason, but here are five more thoughts on the season-ending game.
Third-down efficiency was killer
Statistically, this game was pretty even, with one glaring exception — third-down efficiency. The 49ers were 6-of-12 on third downs, while the Packers were an awful 3-of-11. The Packers defense didn’t do enough to get off the field on third down, while the Packers offense didn’t make enough plays to stay on the field when they faced third downs. After the game, Aaron Rodgers took the blame, saying he didn’t make enough plays. Although some of the receivers left some plays on the field, Rodgers only threw for 177 yards and one touchdown, so we’d tend to agree.
Tramon Williams really wants to stick around
Williams continued his late-season surge and was again the Packers best defender on Sunday. He read Colin Kaepernick to come off Anquan Boldin and jump up and over Vernon Davis for a huge first quarter interception. Williams also defended three passes and had two solo tackles on the day. If the Packers can find a way to pay both Williams and Sam Shields, they’ll have a pretty solid cornerback duo next season. That’s going to be tricky with Williams set to make $7.5 million, though.
It was nice to see Nick Perry make an appearance
Maybe Perry was finally fully healthy. Maybe someone lit a fire under his ass. Whatever it was, it was nice to see the Packers 2012 first-round pick actually make an impact on the field. Perry had five tackles (two for loss), a sack and a QB hit on Sunday. It was probably the best game Perry played all season. Hopefully, he can build on this performance next season.
We’ll tip our hat to David Bakhtiari for being a tough SOB
The Packers left tackle didn’t have his greatest game as a pro against Aldon Smith, who had 1.5 sacks. He joined the Packers injury parade in the second half when the trainers sent him to the locker room for what we believe were concussion tests. That brought the truly awful Marshall Newhouse into the game. Well, Bakhtiari wasn’t having any of it. He actually forced his way back onto the field near the end of the game. With all the babying training staffs seem to do with player injuries these days (and some players do with themselves), that was pretty refreshing.
A number of guys probably played their last game for the Packers yesterday
Free agent defections happen every year, but the Packers have more guys about to be free agents than in most seasons. Among them are Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, Sam Shields, James Jones, Jermichael Finley and Evan Dietrich-Smith. Logic tells you the Packers simply can’t afford to sign all of those guys. They’re going to have to pick and choose and that means a number of guys will be playing elsewhere next year. Our top priority in this group would be Shields. The rest are probably replaceable.