Two NFC heavyweights squared off in the 49ers’ final home opener ever at Candlestick Park on Sunday.
But it was the 49ers who emerged with a 34-28 victory following a heated back-and-forth battle with the Packers.
Colin Kaepernick racked up the stats, completing 27-of-39 passes to six different receivers for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns while rushing seven times for 22 yards.
His primary target, Anquan Boldin, was outstanding. Any questions about his ability to be a No. 1 receiver should stop now.
The stalky-legged 32-year-old ate up the Green Bay secondary, hauling in 13 receptions for 208 yards including a 10-yard touchdown.
Lining up at wide receiver and tight end, Vernon Davis added six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Davis is clearly in sync with Kaepernick, and the Boldin-Davis tandem was just too much for the Packers’ defensive backs.
Center Jonathan Goodwin commented on Kaepernick’s aerial assault on Green Bay:
“We feel we can move the ball anyway. That says a lot of this offense. Hopefully people realize Kap isn’t just a running quarterback.”
The Packers proved to be a tough opponent over and over Sunday afternoon. Linebacker Clay Matthews kept his promise to hit Kaepernick every chance he got — which fortunately was only twice — once on a legit sack and the other on a late hit out of bounds.
Matthews’ shot at Kaepernick drew a manly response from Joe Staley, resulting in off-setting penalties that Harbaugh didn’t like:
“Matthews threw two punches, and the penalties offset. I didn’t see it that way from my vantage point.”
Dom Capers’ scheme was able to contain the 49ers ground game as Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter combined for just 68 yards on 28 carries. The running game did enough to keep the defense honest, and Gore did punch in the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Aldon Smith twice beat left tackle David Bakhtiari to sack Aaron Rodgers twice, splitting one with Ray McDonald.
Vic Fangio’s unit held the Packers running game to just 63 yards as the All-Pro linebacking corps — Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, and Ahmad Brooks — combined for 18 tackles and two passes defended.
In the secondary, Tarell Brown recovered an Eddie Lacy fumble forced by Justin Smith, and first-round pick Eric Reid added six tackles and an interception that came off a tipped ball by James Jones.
Phil Dawson made two of three field goal attempts including a 33-yarder with just 26 seconds left in the game.
Though the ground game was kept mostly in check, San Francisco carved up the Packers through the air and got another solid game out of their defense resulting in a win.
So yes, the 49ers looked every bit the Super Bowl favorite today, doing it against one of the NFC’s best teams.
Next up, the 49ers (1-0) travel to Seattle (1-0) to face their division rival on Sept. 15.
Head referee Bill Leavy confirmed post game that the off-setting penalty play involving Matthews and Staley should have resulted in 4th and 2 rather than 3rd and 6. … Kaepernick’s last 400-yard game was on Dec. 1, 2007 at Nevada when he threw 18-0f-29 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns.