Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur adjusts routine in preparation for Pittsburgh; MVS dealing with hamstring injury
GREEN BAY - It’s going to take the early part of this week for the Green Bay Packers to get over their victory late Sunday night at San Francisco thanks to a little jet lag.
The Packers didn’t return from the West Coast until early Monday morning. Coach Matt LaFleur, a little bleary-eyed, opened his news conference later in the day wondering aloud what time it was before confirming that, yes, it was still Monday.
Players were given Monday and Tuesday off, LaFleur said. They were only required to do a limited workout Monday to flush their soreness from Sunday night.
The Packers will then modify Wednesday. They’ll wait until then to review Sunday night’s film, LaFleur said. Typically, they would review the game film Monday.
“You always want to kind of review the game tape,” LaFleur said. “Because there’s so much to learn from each experience out there. So we’ll use a little portion of Wednesday morning to go over the game tape, and then we’ll flip the script and move onto Pittsburgh.”
The Packers will have their first practice preparing for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after reviewing their game film Wednesday morning. LaFleur said it will be lighter than a typical Wednesday practice.
“As far as how we structure practice,” LaFleur said, “it’s probably going to be a little bit more of a neck-up type of day where it’s more job-through type activity as opposed to our team 11-on-11 full go.”
The Packers will use their regular off day Tuesday to evaluate receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, LaFleur said. Valdes-Scantling left Sunday’s game late in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury.
“MVS, I know, he’ll get a scan tomorrow,” LaFleur said, “and we’ll know a little bit more about where he’s at. Certainly anytime you’re dealing with a soft-tissue injury, you want to be cautious with that because you don’t want it to turn into a long-term deal.”
Despite a postgame handshake that looked something less than chummy, LaFleur and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and reiterated Sunday night there is no rift in their relationship.
Shanahan served as LaFleur's coaching mentor, getting the Packers head coach his first NFL job. He also made no effort this offseason to hide his interest in the 49ers acquiring Aaron Rodgers after his displeasure with the Packers became leaguewide knowledge.
LaFleur said last week he held "no ill will" toward Shanahan. For his part, Shanahan defended his interest in Rodgers during the week saying no friendship gets in the way of the job.
Then the two crossed paths after the Packers' last-second win and barely exchanged words.
"I'd say you'd have to ask Kyle about that," LaFleur said when asked if the handshake reflected the state of their friendship. "I know Kyle, and he's ultracompetitive. That's a tough moment for anybody to be in, and I'm sure he was ticked off that we were able to take the ball down and kick a field goal to win the football game. But, yeah, certainly I'm not going to let anything that -- we've got a lot of history together. So I'm not going to let anything come between our friendship."
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Shanahan also downplayed the handshake's significance, saying he was merely hoping to leave the field as quickly as possible after his team came out on the wrong side of a gut-punch loss.
"I think I was just pissed about the game," Shanahan said. "It ended on the last play, and I wasn't trying to hang out too long in the middle of the field."
LaFleur making sense of officiating
From the sideline, LaFleur believed he saw 49ers receiver Mohamed Sanu's hands grab the top of the football as he laid out for a diving catch early in Sunday's fourth quarter, allowing the ball to hit directly against the grass.
The play was ruled a 16-yard completion. LaFleur thought there was no way Sanu caught the ball. So the Packers coach spiked the red challenge flag in disgust, incredulous at the ruling on the field.
"I've got to definitely do a better job of controlling my emotions there," LaFleur said.
Especially because the play was ruled a catch upon replay review.
It was a surprising call, given video replay appeared to show the ball bouncing once Sanu landed on top of it. LaFleur said he was sure the ruling would be incomplete, even before challenging the call.
"To me," he said, "it seemed like I saw the ball move. As a matter of fact, when I saw it live I thought it was incomplete, just from my vantage point. Because I had a pretty good review of it, but apparently the officials in New York felt differently.
It was among a number of questionable calls distributed between both teams Sunday night.
The Packers believed 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo got away with an intentional grounding penalty before halftime. In the second half, cornerback Jaire Alexander was called for a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty.
While Alexander's penalty didn't cost the Packers because of a 49ers fumble four plays later, the no-call before halftime was especially significant. Instead of pushing the 49ers back 15 yards, it allowed them to stay on the 1-yard line. Trey Lance scored the 49ers' first points of the game one play later, rushing into the end zone as the first-half clock expired.
LaFleur said he had received no explanation about the no-call since he discussed it on the field before halftime with referee Jerome Boger.
“He said that the throw was caused because he got hit by (outside linebacker) Preston (Smith),” LaFleur said. “So that caused the ball to go where it went. I thought we had some pretty good coverage on the back end there, and it looked to me like he may have panicked and just thrown it. It is what it is. It’s a judgment call, and sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
LaFleur also indicated he disagreed with a pair of defensive pass-interference penalties on Eric Stokes.
Not every call went against the Packers. In the second half, Smith got away with a blatant tripping penalty.