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Aaron Rodgers: 49ers stop rally, win 30-22
GREEN BAY, Wis. — With the arrival of Randy Moss and a few other additions in the offseason, quarterback Alex Smith knew the San Francisco 49ers were serious about beefing up their passing game.
And while the 49ers aren't going to stray completely from the defense and running game-based formula that got them to the NFC Championship game last season, Smith hoped he gave future opponents a few things to think about with his play in Sunday's 30-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
"I take pride that we're going to be balanced," Smith said. "We're not going to be predictable. We're not going to be one-dimensional. We're got a lot of different players that can do a lot of different things. We're going to make you defend everything."
Smith was 20 of 26 for 211 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, spreading the ball around to six different receivers — including Moss and fellow offseason addition Mario Manningham.
"I thought he was great," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of Smith. "He used his legs, he used his arm, he used his mind, he used his toughness. Really accurate, was really efficient. Played a heck of a ballgame."
Smith got Moss involved early on, finding him wide open in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
It was a familiar — and painful — sight for Packers fans.
Moss turned his back to the crowd and pointed to the name on his jersey, opting for a more subdued celebration than the now-notorious fake mooning motion he made toward fans at Lambeau during his Minnesota Vikings days.
"Got a good look," Smith said. "We were looking for it and he just blew open. I think his eyes lit up bigger than mine. He made a great catch."
Facing a Packers team that lost only once in the 2011 regular season was a tough opening road test, the 49ers were more than ready.
"We were just tremendously on it today, and that was a big part of our victory," Harbaugh said.
Frank Gore rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown, and praised Smith's play afterward.
"He deserves it," Gore said of Smith. "Look at where he came from. People that know football, they should understand how tough it is for a quarterback to have five or six different (offensive) coordinators ... You see him grow in the second year of the same offense and I'm happy for my man. We came in together. He's my brother."
Things went so well for San Francisco that when David Akers tried a 63-yard field goal at the end of the first half, it bounced off the crossbar and then kept going through the uprights to tie an NFL record.
"When you hit the goal post at any part it usually makes that horrific noise and then it usually bounces back," Akers said. "This time it got there. It was a sweet bounce. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime type of a deal."
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."
By Donald Lambro
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