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49ers Outlast Packers, 34-28, in Opener

Posted Sep 8, 2013

San Francisco won its regular season opener at Candlestick Park on Sunday afternoon.

In Jim Harbaugh’s parlance, this was a football fight.

Colin Kaepernick and Aaron Rodgers traded touchdown passes, the 49ers and the Packers traded punches and the home team ultimately prevailed.

Thanks to its defense creating two turnovers and, yes, a huge game from its quarterback, San Francisco topped Green Bay, 34-28, Sunday afternoon at Candlestick Park.

PHOTO GALLERY: 49ERS V. PACKERS

Two of Kaepernick’s three touchdown tosses found Vernon Davis, who has six scores in five career games against the Packers, now has the most by a tight end against Green Bay in NFL history. The All-Pro had two had two touchdowns in Kaepernick’s 10 NFL starts a season ago.

That was far from the 49ers only milestone on the afternoon. With the victory, Jim Harbaugh became the first coach in franchise history – and the fourth active NFL coach – to win opening day games in his first three seasons. It had also been a decade since the 49ers had won their third straight regular season opener (2001-03). And -- yes, there's more -- San Francisco has beaten Green Bay three times in one calendar year, including last season's opener and the 2012 NFC Divisional playoff game.

The latest win was never really secure. The Packers grabbed their first lead, 28-24, with less than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, when rookie running back Eddie Lacy scored his first NFL touchdown from two yards.

Making his first Opening Day start, Kaepernick was sharp when it counted most, finding wideout Anquan Boldin for a 43-yard pass-and-catch on San Francisco's ensuing drive. After Kendall Hunter's 23-yard run deeper into Green Bay territory, fellow running back Frank Gore finished his otherwise slow day with a one-yard touchdown run.

After another defensive stop, the 49ers did all they could to protect their edge. On a gutsy call from Harbaugh, the 49ers attempted to convert a 4th-and-2 play from the Packers' 36-yard line. It was no surprise that the 15-yard catch was credited to Boldin, who shined in his team debut. The ex-Ravens receiver recorded a game-high 13 catches for 208 yards and a score.

A 33-yard field goal from Phil Dawson with 26 ticks remaining gave the 49ers their winning margin.

Kaepernick's numbers flash off the screen, too. The right-armed quarterback finished 27-of-39 passing for 412 yards. His rapport with Davis was strong from the get-go. On the 49ers second drive of the game, the former found the latter at the end of his post-corner route for a 20-yard touchdown. Starting from the slot on the right side of the formation, Davis beat strong safety M.D. Jennings to the end zone.

Kaepernick completed five passes on the drive, which spanned 13 plays and 83 yards over nearly seven minutes of game clock.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers didn’t take their time responding. Rodgers completed a pair of 31-yard passes. The latter happened, in part, because inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman couldn’t shed a block in time to bring down Lacy, who gained a head of steam on a screen play to Rodgers’ left.

Lacy carried the ball down to the five-yard line, where Rodgers found Randall Cobb for a game-tying score. Cobb reached for the goal line with his outstretched right hand, appearing to place the ball on chalk before he was ruled down by contact. The play was not reviewed.

Lacy, the Packers running back, fumbled on the Packers’ next drive – Bowman knocked the ball loose and cornerback Tarell Brown fell on it at the 14-yard line.

Three plays later – after a late hit by Kaepernick on the left sideline was negated by left tackle Joe Staley’s hand-fighting match with outside linebacker Clay Matthews – Kaepernick tossed a six-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. The Kaepernick-to-Boldin connection was a common one; Boldin recorded six catches for 73 yards before halftime.

The 49ers created another turnover on the Packers penultimate drive of the first half. Free safety Eric Reid earned his first interception in his NFL debut, scooping tight end Jermichael Finley’s drop inches before it touched grass. Reid had picked himself up and ran the ball 53 yards to the Packers’ 3-yard line but, after a review, was ruled down by contact at the 49ers’ 44-yard line.

Reid had missed a tackle two plays before on Rodgers’ two-yard toss to Jordy Nelson, who turned it into a 22-yard gain down the sideline.

This turnover set up a 48-yard missed field goal attempt from Phil Dawson. The ex-Browns kicker had made 9 of 11 attempts during the preseason.

Missed tackles ended up costing the 49ers dearly on the Packers last drive before halftime. No. 3 cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha whiffed on Nelson when the Packers receiver pushed his way down to San Francisco’s 25-yard line. Three plays later, Rodgers found Finley on a quick out, and the Packers tight end broke through No. 4 cornerback Perrish Cox would-be tackle. Finley then made contact with but hurdled past safety Donte Whitner at the pylon.

That tied the score at 14 entering halftime.

After the second Kaepernick-to-Davis score to start the third quarter, Nelson caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers late in the third quarter to tie the game at 21.

Avenging his earlier miss, Dawson executed a 27 yard field goal on the ensuing drive to give the 49ers its eventual winning margin.

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