Thoughts from the Green Bay Packers at the San Francisco 49ers (1/20/2024)
Here are my thoughts from the Green Bay Packers' 24-21 playoff loss at the San Francisco 49ers last night:
I am really sick of losing to those guys. Green Bay has now lost five in a row against the 49ers, but this one felt especially heartbreaking because for around 55 minutes or so of the game, it really felt like they would pull off the upset. It reminded me a little bit of when Green Bay had the lead against the Seattle Seahawks late in the game a few years ago and collapsed to lose it.
This was a game that came down to missed opportunities. Another Anders Carlson field goal miss allowed for the 49ers' go-ahead score late in the game. The failed 4th-and-1 early on (which I agree with Matt LaFleur, it was a bad ball spot by the refs) stopped the team's early momentum and kept at least three points off the board. Two dropped interceptions by the defense could have been game-changers. You just can't let the top-seeded team stay in the game like that. They had the 49ers on the ropes more than once and just couldn't deliver the knock-out blow.
You can blame all three of the team's units for this too. Special teams had the missed field goal (albeit from 41 yards in the rain). The offense left points off the board and Jordan Love had two interceptions (both on bad throws). The defense couldn't seem to defend in man coverage and a missed tackle resulted in a long run play and the 49ers second touchdown.
Speaking of the defense, I think the jury is still out about defensive coordinator Joe Berry. Just when it felt like he was doing enough to save his job, the defense folded. This was the top offense in the league but I'm not sure that's an excuse. When everyone from fans to announcers hold their breath whenever the defense is on the field and are surprised when they don't give up a big play, that's not exactly a vote of confidence.
Matt LaFleur deserves some criticism too. Did he forget he had three time outs he could use to keep the 49ers from running down the clock? It would have made some sense to let the clock run if the 49ers didn't have their time outs but at that point in the game, when they weren't being stopped and it was clear there was a really good chance you'd need to score again, he should have been using them to try to give Love less urgency on the final drive.
The Packers need to keep Aaron Jones. There was some talk about this possibly being his last season with the team, but he remains a valuable asset and I don't think they have a replacement on the roster yet. Keep him for at least one more year while drafting/developing his successor.
I think us Packers fans need to keep things in perspective. This team wasn't built to make a Super Bowl run this year. It is being built to be a perennial contender in a year or two. The win over Dallas last week and the Packers' ability to keep pace against a rested top seed on a short week, shows they are a lot closer than a lot of people expected, especially since they already have an offensive line that can protect their franchise passer (zero sacks against one of the best defensive fronts in the league, even after losing right tackle Zach Tom), something many teams do not have. The core of the team now has a full season and two playoff games under their belts. Add that experience to what is already a talented and deep team and there is a lot to be excited about next year.