Still, the most impressive part of Sunday’s effort was on defense, where the 49ers smothered Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense for three quarters, then made one last stand to stop a late rally to seal the win.
The 49ers took a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter, then twice let Rodgers and the Packers cut the lead to 8. But the defense held firm on a potential game-tying drive in the final minutes.
49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks said the 49ers’ win could be an “eye opener” for the Packers, and a sign that the 49ers are poised for another big playoff run.
“Maybe we’ll see them again in the NFC championship,” Brooks said.
It was a harsh reality check for the Packers, who came into their opener with hopes that a rebuilt defense and improved running game could help get them back to the Super Bowl after coming up short in the playoffs last season.
“They’ve got a great defense,” Rodgers said. “You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve got some of the top guys in the league at their position.”
Rodgers finished 30 of 44 for 303 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but the Packers couldn’t really move the ball before the fourth quarter.
Rodgers also finished the game as the Packers‘ leading rusher, with new addition Cedric Benson gaining just 18 yards on nine carries.
Rodgers cautioned against blowing one loss out of proportion.
“It’s one game,” Rodgers said. “This is a team that was in the NFC championship last year. It’s a good team. Hopefully we see them down the road in the playoffs.”
The Packers don’t have long to prepare for their next game, Thursday night at home against the division rival Chicago Bears.
Asked if he at least was pleased that his team put together a comeback, Packers coach Mike McCarthy held his tongue.
“Boy, I’d like to answer that truthfully,” McCarthy said. “We’re 0-1. We have some work to do. We’re up in 96 hours.”