The margin was closer than many observers predicted, thanks to some gutty officiating that allowed Green Bay offensive linemen and cornerbacks to hold pass rushers and receivers with impunity, limiting the Niners to field goals and extending the home team’s rare scoring drives. Of course, the narrow defeat probably hurts the Packer faithful even more than the thorough drubbing their play merited, so it all evens out.
Given all the help they received from the men in stripes, could one of Green Bay’s missing pieces have put them over the top? It’s a fair question. Money Matt Flynn, who keyed the Packers’ stirring late-season return to relevancy before being shoved aside for the aging Aaron Rodgers and his All-Pro 3-and-outs? Clay Matthews, who could have continued his early-season tactic of late, dirty hits on Kaepernick, forcing San Francisco to turn to Colt McCoy? Dom Capers, who some theorize was replaced by a mannequin in a Packers pullover and visor before last season’s playoff loss and whose current whereabouts are unknown*?
In all likelihood, though, nothing could have saved them. They were a mediocre team in a bad division that was bailed out by Money Matt’s heroism. Unfortunately, all they have to show for it is the bus they threw Flynn under and a lousier draft position. Go Pack Go!
Will 2014 be any better than 2013 for this star-crossed bunch? Well, Hollywood Rodgers now has a legitimate shot at sitting at Clooney’s table during this Sunday’s Golden Globes, so in that sense of the term, yes! In the football sense, though? In an increasingly lost off-season, skepticism is more than warranted.
*I have no proof of this, but the Packers' defensive stats in their last three games against San Francisco make a compelling argument that the Capers Mannequin is on the hot seat in Green Bay. Does National American University have night courses in stopping the spread option for inanimate objects? (That’s not an A.J. Hawk joke.)