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COHN: 49ers' all-out performance has Harbaugh gushing

  • Green Bay Packers' Charles Woodson breaks up a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers' Delanie Walker (46) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Let's start with a blunt statement. The 49ers played a beautiful game against the Packers, a work of art. The score was close, 30-22, but the game wasn't close.

The 49ers had their way with the Packers, a good team with a great quarterback. And the Niners, blunt facts being what they are, never were in danger of losing.

Because this was the 49ers' first game of the season, the marquee game on Sunday, let's use it as a primer of Niner football, and review what we learned on a lovely late-summer Green Bay afternoon.

NFL Cheerleaders, Week 1

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What we learned about Jim Harbaugh: He really is one heck of a coach, no one-season wonder, if this game, admittedly a small sample, is a true indicator. Every play, especially on offense, had a purpose and the right personnel. Textbook.

He and his coordinators and assistant coaches game-planned better than the Green Bay guys. They really did. Packers coach Mike McCarthy is supposed to be the bee's knees, but he seemed like the common housefly in comparison to Harbaugh.

The Packers offense was predictable and cautious and, frankly, ragged. And for much of the game, Aaron Rodgers slumped around the field with bad body language in the throes of frustration. He was frustrated because the 49ers did brilliant things to make him grumpy in the extreme.

The 49ers knew the Packers couldn't run worth anything — like, "Cedric Benson, get the ball and fall down." Because the Packers couldn't run, the Niners committed football heresy. They often took Patrick Willis out of the game — Patrick Freaking Willis? — so they could beef up their pass coverage. They played their dime package, six defensive backs. And that meant the field was clogged with DBs, and that blew Rodgers' mind.

The Green Bay defense, for its part, wasn't so hot at understanding the Niner offense which used all kinds of sets and different wide receivers, wide receivers coming at the Packers from all over the place. You felt the Packers' defense wanted to fall on the ground and weep.

So, yes, Harbaugh game-planned the pants off the Packers — if you can make sense of that metaphor. After Harbaugh ducked the requisite number of questions in his postgame presser, he darted out of the room saying, "That was sure fun to watch, wasn't it?"

At his best, Harbaugh is a baller. And he had fun on Sunday. He put Colin Kaepernick in for one play at the end of the first half and called a quarterback draw, Kaepernick dashing up the middle for 17, setting up David Akers for a 63-yard field goal which tied the league record. It wasn't a mere field goal. It was a missile strike.


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