Eric Goska column: McCarthy again is outgained in opener

Sep. 8, 2013
ES_GPG_Packers vs. 49ers_9.8.13
Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry tries to chase down San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second quarter Sunday at Candlestick Park. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
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Outgained at the outset

Since 1933, Packers coaches whose teams were outgained most often in season openers and their record in those games.

No. CoachRecord
8Mike McCarthy5-3
6Curly Lambeau3-3
6Bart Starr3-3
4Gene Ronzani0-4
4Lisle Blackbourn2-2
4Forrest Gregg1-3
4Lindy Infante1-3
4Mike Sherman1-3


In the unpredictable world that is the NFL, once certainty remains: Mike McCarthy and his Packers always finish with fewer yards than their opponent in the first game of the season.

San Francisco became the latest to produce more yards than Green Bay. The 49ers passed their way to a 34-28 victory Sunday at Candlestick Park in the season opener for both teams.

Yes, the final score and not yards allowed is what matters most. But when a team is gashed to the extent the Packers were, scoring plays are all but certain to follow.

Colin Kaepernick, who beat the Packers with his feet in last year’s playoff meeting, relied primarily on his arm this time. The rangy quarterback utilized receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis, in particular, to move the football.

Kaepernick completed 27 of 39 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns. Boldin snagged 13 passes for 208 yards and a score. Davis hauled in two TDs among six receptions for 98 yards.

To Green Bay’s credit, it improved against the run. San Francisco gained 90 yards rushing on 34 carries (2.6 average).

But the damage overall was too much to overcome. The 494 yards surrendered was the second most in a Packers opener behind the 498 given up to the Oilers at the outset of the 1983 season. The eight passes of 20 or more yards the 49ers produced were the most allowed by Green Bay on any opening day.

The Packers were no slouches offensively either. They racked up 385 yards, their second-most in an opener under McCarthy.

Aaron Rodgers and his receivers moved the chains. Rodgers completed 21-of-37 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

Like San Francisco, Green Bay had little success on the ground. Rookie Eddie Lacy (14 carries-41 yards) spearheaded an attack that earned but 63 yards on 19 attempts.

McCarthy is 5-3 in season-opening games. But based on how his teams have been outgained, that record could be worse.

The Bears outgained Green Bay (361 yards to 267) to spoil McCarthy debut (26-0) in 2006. He was dealt a second opening-day loss a year ago when the 49ers amassed more yards (377-324) in a 30-22 win.

In between, his teams won five straight openers from 2007 through 2011. In order, they beat the Eagles 16-13, the Vikings 24-19, the Bears 21-15, the Eagles 27-20 and the Saints 42-34. In order, they were outgained by Philadelphia (283-215), by Minnesota (355-317), by Chicago (352-226), by Philadelphia (320-299) and New Orleans (477-399).

McCarthy isn’t the first Packers coach to have his teams outgained in every season opener. Gene Ronzani (4 times), Lisle Blackbourn (4), Scooter McLean (1), Forrest Gregg (4) and Lindy Infante (4) did so as well.

But being lumped together with that group is something to be avoided at least when talking wins and losses. From Ronzani to Infante, all five had losing records in Green Bay.

Extra points

■ Rushing touchdowns by rookies in season openers are rare in Packers history. Eddie Lacy, with a diving 2-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, became just the fifth rookie to do so since 1933. Steve Odom (1974), Ralph Earhart (1948), Irv Comp (1943) and Tony Canadeo (1941) are the others.

■ No Packers running back converted a third down in the red zone with a rushing attempt in the regular season in 2012. Fullback John Kuhn made sure that wouldn’t be the case this year as he gained 3 yards from the San Francisco 15 on third-and-1 to set up Rodgers’ 12-yard TD pass to Jermichael Finley in the first half.

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