Published September 09, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO – In one brilliant afternoon, Anquan Boldin's spectacular debut for San Francisco sure lessened the sting of Michael Crabtree's devastating Achilles' injury.
Colin Kaepernick has his top target, and a gutsy Super Bowl champion at that. Add Vernon Davis into the mix, and all those questions about the 49ers' receiving corps were quieted at least for this week.
Kaepernick is going to go to Boldin — and often. Up next: Seattle and another tough NFC rival.
Boldin caught 13 passes for 208 yards and a 10-yard touchdown for the reigning NFC champions in a 34-28 victory against Green Bay in their season opener Sunday.
"If he plays like that, he's going to get the ball even more," Kaepernick said.
Davis caught a pair of touchdown passes as San Francisco stymied the Packers with a far different approach than that read-option attack in a 45-31 playoff win eight months ago. Kaepernick ran for a quarterback-record 181 yards that game. On Sunday, he passed for a career-best 412 as San Francisco amassed 494 total yards.
The running, mobile Kaepernick is what the Packers most prepared for, too.
"I guess Green Bay expected us to do a lot of read option," Davis said. "After hearing Clay Matthews talk, that's all he talked about."
With 2012 top wideout Crabtree sidelined until at least November recovering from a torn right Achilles' tendon that required surgery, many wondered whether the receiving corps had enough talent.
Frank Gore, who scored the go-ahead 1-yard touchdown with 5:47 remaining, is thrilled to see the versatility.
"I'm just happy we put on film we can do whatever we want," Gore said.
Here are five things we know from the Packers-49ers on Sunday:
1. LACY'S LEGS: The kid can run, and he's still raw.
Green Bay rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who will be counted upon to improve the Packers' ground game, had 14 carries for 41 yards and also a 31-yard gain on a catch-and-run screen play in the first quarter leading to Green Bay's first touchdown.
Lacy took his licks, too.
During the Packers' second possession, Ray McDonald pounded Lacy for a 3-yard loss.
Later, the former Alabama star fumbled when he was clobbered by four established, menacing defenders — Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, NaVorro Bowman and McDonald — and Tarell Brown recovered the fumble to give San Francisco first down at the Green Bay 14.
Lacy showed he's gutsy and runs hard, leaping over several defenders for a 7-yard gain in the fourth quarter. Then, the go-ahead 2-yard touchdown with 8:26 remaining.
"I want to put that one mistake behind me and continue to progress," Lacy said. "We have a long season and I have a long season to get better and better."
2. DAWSON'S KICKS: Phil Dawson received his proper Candlestick Park introduction, all right.
Everything seemed lined up just right when he attempted a 48-yard field goal late in the first half. He thought it was good, too.
Then, the ball hooked wide left. Dawson missed his first attempt in his debut with the 49ers — after the 38-year-old kicker missed twice all last season in his 14th year with Cleveland.
Dawson recovered to convert on field goals of 27 and 33 yards, both in the fourth quarter.
"That's my welcome to Candlestick," Dawson said. "I hit that ball exactly where I was aiming and about the last 5-6 yards it just took a hard left, which I wasn't anticipating at all. That's just how it's going to be here. Give me a little time I'll hopefully get this thing a little more squared away. Honestly, if I had to line up again, I think I'd aim in the same place."
3. CHEMISTRY IS A-OK: Randy Moss might have his opinions about Kaepernick's chemistry with Davis, yet Davis begged to differ when hearing Moss' take on the quarterback-tight end relationship leading up to Sunday's opener.
And Davis showed they might have a good thing going already. He caught a 20-yard touchdown pass for the first score of the game, giving him a TD in each of his five regular-season meetings with the Packers.
Davis wound up with six receptions for 98 yards.
"Like I tell everyone, we had all that time during the offseason to build chemistry and just get to know each other," Davis said.
He might want to tell Moss — if Moss didn't see enough for himself Sunday.
4. BAKHTIARI'S DAY: Rookie Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari is thrilled he got to play back in his native Bay Area, and specifically at Candlestick Park before the place is imploded after this season.
In his NFL debut, there were some positive moments and some frustrating ones against San Francisco's swarming defensive front.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked twice.
Bakhtiari took over the job on an inexperienced offensive line after left tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost to a season-ending knee injury early in training camp.
"We look pretty good when we're all on the same page and we're all contributing," Bakhtiari said. "I think that was evident in our no-huddle drives. We just need to be more consistent."
5. REID'S DEBUT: During the week, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he wished rookie free safety Eric Reid's NFL debut would come against an opponent other than Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers under center.
Hey, Vic, Reid can hang in the NFL just fine.
He had an interception and six tackles.
"I did not keep the ball. I don't know what I was thinking, but I wish I kept the ball," Reid said. "I'm glad I got my first one."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org