Packers 34, 49ers 16: A Starks Contrast in the Running Game All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Despite what has become a classic slow start for the Green Bay Packers, they were eventually able to impose their will on the San Francisco 49ers for a 34-16 win.

The Packers used the deep ball against the 49ers weak secondary to pile on the points and then used newly activated James Starks to chew up yards and the clock in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Packers defense held tight on several occasions, as the Niners looked to take advantage of some very favorable field position in the first half. Had the defense not held the 49ers to field goals on those occasions, the Packers could have found themselves inexplicably trailing to the 49ers.

But the defense held the 49ers to only 3 of 12 on 3rd down, recorded four sacks and an interception, the Packers found some running yardage today and for another week, all is well in Packer Nation.

My game day impressions:


The 49ers haven’t allowed a 100 yard rusher in 17 straight games. We can certainly expect that streak to be safe, but let’s recall last year. Before last season’s meeting, all the talk was about how good the 49er’s run defense was. The Packers then went out and rushed the ball for 158 yards in that game. Of course, that was with Ryan Grant.

KEY TO THE GAME: If I had to pick JUST ONE thing, it would be this: Get out to any early lead and put this team away as soon as possible.

My 1A key to the game is the same as against the Falcons and something that I don’t say often:  Throw the ball – A LOT. But please Mike, not just to the receivers. Use the running backs, use the tight ends… The 49ers’ pass rush is mediocre and  they do not have enough talent in the secondary to handle a multi-pronged passing attack.

Inactive for Green Bay on Sunday: Bigby, P. Lee, Nance, Smith, Wilhelm, McDonald, Newhouse and Wynn.

James “Neo” Starks steps in for Dimitri Nance this week, making his long-awaited Packers debut. Even more reason to expect a McCarthy Air show this week.

Interesting that Matt “Facemask” Wilhelm is inactive this week…

Donald Lee returns from his one week stint in game inactive purgatory.

Once again, all three fullbacks are active.

MM Comments on WTMJ Pregame show:

4-7 niners team much better than their record indicates. They’ve won four of their last six games. Tough defensive football team

Troy Smith has given the team a spark, that’s obvious to everyone. (4-1 as a starter)

Troy Smith playing ahead of Alex Smith and David Carr, two #1 overall picks.

We must keep Troy Smith in the pocket. He’s much more dangerous in space, not comfortable throwing  in the pocket.

Concerned about Ted Ginn. Wind could be a real factor today. Placement of punts and kickoffs will be very important.


From day one, I thought these throwback uniforms were awful. Now that I see them in action, nothing has changed. Brown helmets and pants? Ugly!

On the first play, the 49ers try to test Tramon Williams. Tramon stayed step-for-step with Crabtree. Nothing there for the 49ers.

On third down, the Packers do EXACTLY what MM said they have to guard against: Get caught inside and allow Smith to get outside into space. Result is a long completion.  CM3 the culprit, getting bottled up inside.

Packers running a super efficient offense on their first drive. James Jones unawareness of the first down marker puts the Packers in their least favorite position, third and one on the seven yard line:  Packers go old school with a three back “T” formation and power for the first down.  I have to say, I like that better than the QB sneak…

Rodgers overthrows a wide-open Donald Driver in the end zone, although Driver definitely jumped too soon.  Would he have had a chance if he kept running? Will have to see it again to tell…

Crosby misses the field goal. A lot of people wondering if it got tipped, but I didn’t think it changed direction. Just looked like he hooked it to me.

49ers getting a better pass rush than expected so far. They are getting good  penetration, have harassed Rogers and sacked him once already. Packers are not using the RBs to help with pass protection so far. That may need to change.

Score: Packers 0 49ers 3

2nd Quarter:

Great defensive stop by the Packers defense on the goal line. Cullen jenkins smelled play-action and just headed right for Smith. He guessed right and Smith is tackled for a loss. Defense holds on third down and 49ers held to a field goal.

Poor pass protection by OL and field position by ST making this easy on the 49ers offense.

Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect one of the Packers WR to recognize the blitz and cut their down field routes short? Give Rodgers someone to get a quick throw to? It’s like they’re not paying attention.

Free play for Rodgers ends up in a long TD pass to Jennings. Great concentration by Jennings to pull it in as the coverage by the DB was quite good.

Starks running style looking quite Grant-like. Although he hasn’t yet run into his own lineman’s ass.

The issue with the Packers screens have been OL-related. Usually they’re out too soon or too late, and often block nobody. The screen to Jackson was just perfect execution. Although Scott Wells still blocked nobody. But Daryn Colledge made the key block to give Jackson a seam.

And soon after, some awful secondary play allows the 49ers to quickly score on a 66 yd. touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. While Davis was open and deserved to make the catch, he should have at least been slowed down by Nick Collins, who completely whiffed on Davis.

Score: Packers 14, 49ers 13

2nd Half:

Donald Driver shows what great effort is all about. Those were some of the hardest-earned YAC I’ve seen in a long time. Fittingly, he was rewarded with a TD for his efforts.

Vernon Davis continues to haunt the Packers. But the defense holds the 49ers to another field goal (with help from troy Smith and a terrible pass on 3rd down).

Packers are taking a lot of shots downfield, which BTW,  is what I wanted the Packers to do last week. I thought Atlanta’s secondary would be prone to the same deep routes…

Vernon Davis with a rare drop on a deep pass. Went right through his hands. Phew!

Score: Packers 28 49ers 16


If I see Brandon Jackson stop running one more time I will, I will… I don’t know what I’ll do…

Zombo gets a sack and pulls out the Zorro “Z” sack dance. Corny, but I like the Zorro better than the Belt.

James Starks runs hard. That counts for a lot. And the best part was, there were no rookie mistakes. He took some hard hits and held onto the ball.

Final Score: Packers 34 49ers 16


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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for


32 thoughts on “Packers 34, 49ers 16: A Starks Contrast in the Running Game

  1. A very good 3rd quarter and a long drive in the fourth. That’s more like it. After the 2nd Qtr I was afraid that this was going to be close. Glad it wasn’t.

    Wish the Lions had beat the Bears today. Now next week they’re going to be all hyper about a win.

    1. The Lions are no longer a gimmie game. They’re a couple breaks from being .500. The North comes down to Detroit and GB next year I think.

      1. If we want to go anywhere, the Lions’ is the easiest game we’ll face.

        We better win that, or else…

  2. We win against DET, NYG and CHI, we’re 100% in.
    We win against CHI, and one of those, then we’re 80% in. Unless the Giants, the Eagles, the Saints, the Bucs, the Bears and the Falcons win out.

    Well, it’s not exactly like it, but we’re basically in the playoffs.

    We need to do our job, though.

      1. Yes, that game is absolutely critical.

        I dare to say that, even if we win all the other games, if we lose that one, we don’t make the playoffs.

      2. The Bears are ripe for trouble. As someone who followed him in Denver Cutler does not know how to h anle success. He gets cocky and makes some stupid decisions. Martz won’t likely stop him so I see trouble ahead in Chicago

  3. Double D – wow! Awesome catch & run (and break tackle, and run,…).

    And that long 4th quarter drive was a thing of beauty. Ate up a huge chunk of time and basically iced the game. Nicely done.

        1. I think they should have just matched the helmets to the numbers… more like Notre Dame.

      1. Football stylists didn’t exist in 29′. They should have tried to mold th brown helmets into leather helmet look alikes. Nah, that would be going to far.

  4. I think it was Rodgers’ last sack… did it look like a broken screen play by the O-line?

  5. I have to admit I was jumping around a bit when we were getting 3-4 yard runs out of Starks consistently. I agree that he looks like a lot like Ryan Grant. As for the uniforms, the uniform was ok, but the pants and helmet have got to go. Another big issue was that it was nearly impossible to tell who was on the field since the numbers on the front are so small, I think even the crowd got screwed up as they all said “kooohn” for Korey Hall

  6. We are good enough to beat lesser teams, even with poor special teams and an offensive funk lasting a quarter and a half. Lots of little sloppy spells, but these guys are human and overall the Packers have played very well for about 6 straight weeks.

    The Bears game is going to be for the division, most likely. We have to keep winning.

    I like the throwbacks. Our ancient colors are blue and gold. It’s hard to make blue, gold, and leather-colored brown look snazzy.

  7. I paid close attention to the difference the way Starks hits the hole, compared to Jax. Unlike Jax,Starks is decisive, and moves the pile forward. He’ll only get better with more carries. Teams will have to respect Packers running game with Starks in there.

    1. I did the same thing and I agree.His fresh legs could be the difference the rest of the way.

  8. With all the injuries, and the long IR list, it’s fitting that one of TT’s own draft choices emerges off the PUP in his first year and perhaps plays a role in the season’s fourth quarter push to the playoffs.

  9. I didn’t get to see much of the game, from what I DID see, it STILL seems like we have more problems than just the running game. Giving up big plays, special teams, missed chip-shots…etc.

    The brown helmits were to simulate leather, as real leather is now forebidden (One would think that wouldn’t need to be mentioned). Back in the day (1929..seems like yesterday)if you put ANYthing on your head it was a plain “leather lid”. No pansy logos, no numbers. I guess they shared…lol.

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