GREEN BAY, Wisc. - It was a cold Sunday afternoon in Green Bay, Wisc., 26 degrees to be exact, but not as cold as the 49ers frigid red zone offense.
Three trips inside the Packers 20-yard line yielded nine points, and ultimately played a hand in the team's 34-16 defeat at Lambeau Field.
"We didn't take advantage of our opportunities," head coach Mike Singletary said. "It's very disappointing, our guys knew what we came here to do, and obviously we didn't finish it."
It seemed like the 49ers (4-8) had an aggressive game plan in mind, but once they got within striking distance, the offense literally froze up.
"It hurts," tight end Delanie Walker said of the chilly red zone performance. "We lost control of everything we said we were going to do."
The red zone issues showed up throughout the game on Sunday.
Although he missed him deep on the opening play of the game, Troy Smith and Michael Crabtree hooked up for a 39-yard gain to set up Jeff Reed's first field goal as a member of the 49ers, good from 44 yards out.
While the points gave the 49ers an early lead, it was just the first of many missed chances deep inside Packer territory.
Early in the second quarter, the 49ers once again appeared to have a touchdown in their sights after a 25-yard pass to Vernon Davis put the 49ers at Green Bay's 2-yard line. But the red zone struggles continued. Rookie running back Anthony Dixon was stuffed on first down. Smith was sacked on second, and managed to scramble for a few yards on third down. As a result, Reed trotted out and connected on a 26-yard field goal to make it 6-0.
The lead didn't last long.
"I had a good, game, but the winning part is why we play this game," Reed said. "It's disappointing."
After the teams traded three-and-outs, Green Bay (8-4) got on the board with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings; it wasn't the last time they would attack downfield. The 49ers jumped offside prior to the snap on the play, allowing Rodgers to take a free shot down the field. It paid off in a big way.
"Anytime you jump offside, it gives the other team a free shot and they love already going deep," linebacker Joe Staley said. "We gave them a chance and the guy made a play on it."
After a 49ers three-and-out, Green Bay took over and marched 50 yards on six plays to score a 1-yard rushing touchdown by John Kuhn. The score was set up by 37-yard screen pass to Brandon Jackson down to the San Francisco 1.
The 49ers wasted no time returning the favor however, scoring on a 66-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Davis. It was the 49ers longest play from scrimmage this season, and the drive itself lasted two plays and took 20 seconds off the clock. It was also Davis' third receiving touchdown against the Packers, giving him a score in each career contest against Green Bay.
However, it would be the only time all afternoon the 49ers found the end zone.
The Packers scored easily on their opening possession of the second half. Rodgers completed a 61-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver, who was initially uncovered by the 49ers secondary and broke several tackles on his way to the end zone.
"To sum it all up, it was a lack of focus on our end," safety Dashon Goldson said. "We lacked focus coming out in the second half."
If only Takeo Spikes had a chance at Jennings on that play it might have been a different story. The 49ers veteran inside linebacker finished with a career-high 17 tackles, most came against the run, but his tackling skills would have been useful on the play.
On the 49ers opening possession of the second half, Davis, who finished with a career-high 126 receiving yards, brought his team back across midfield with a 20-yard catch. But soon after, the 49ers failed to score a touchdown in the red zone for a third time as Smith missed a quick out pattern to Crabtree on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. Reed connected on his third field goal from 23 yards out, and it would be the 49ers final points of the game.
The Packers completed another deep ball right away on their next drive. Rodgers' 48-yard pass to Jennings put Green Bay at the 49ers 3-yard line. Rodgers would later finish the drive with a touchdown pass to Jennings from one yard out.
It was a dominant second half for the Packers, who at one point, marched 74 yards on 17 plays to set up a final 24-yard field goal from Mason Crosby in the fourth quarter. The drive took up 8:35 off the clock and surely put the 49ers away for good.
For the game, Green Bay possessed the ball for 37:11 compared to just 22:49 for the 49ers. The Packers picked up 10 more first downs than their opponents and had some success on the ground. James Starks came off the bench to rush for 73 yards on 18 carries, but the 49ers continued their streak of 18 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.
The 49ers will look to continue that trend this Sunday in an important divisional home matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
For Singletary and his players, that's where their focus is.
"We have Seattle coming up this week, and that's the only thing we're going to think about."