Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Report from 3Com Park

Last night's game was probably boring to anyone but Packer fans. I'm guessing that the TV rating dropped precipitously in the second half. It was certainly boring to the 49er fans in the stands. They were pretty quiet throughout the game. In fact, on the way home, people were calling in to sports radio shows, complaining about how quiet the fans were, as if the "12th man" was the main problem for the 49ers. The other topic on the sports radio shows was who should start at QB for the 49ers next week.

There was a lot left to be desired in the game for the Packers. There was a lot of bending but no breaking on defense, and the offense only scored 2 TDs (plus 2 FGs) out of 5 trips inside the red zone. This could un-do the Packers in a different game. Here, I looked at it as a methodical, pretty conservative game plan on both sides of the ball, with the idea that this was a game they would win unless they screwed it up.

To put it differently, I had the impression that the Packers could have scored a lot more points if they wanted to by opening up the offense. But they decided to stick with a safer, conservative game plan, figuring that the 49ers would not score many points. Except for the first couple of series, the Packers seemed to me to be in total control of the game.

The long ball to Bradford was obviously not a conservative play, except in the sense that people have been throwing long against the 49ers with success all year. And if the defender did not tackle him it might have been a TD (you all must have seen that one better than I did, since they showed no replay of this play in the stadium). So 2 of the possible outcomes are good, plus it a long pass like this tends to loosen up the defense for the short passing game. Certainly in the second half the 49er defenders were playing way off the receivers.

As mentioned, the atmosphere throughout the game was subdued in the stands. There were a lot more Packer fans present than in the playoff game in January, as I had expected. The Packer fans were having a good time, tastefully at least in my area, and the 49er fans were mostly sitting on their hands. The paper here did not publish any "no show" statistics, but I can tell you that there were thousands of empty seats, even at the beginning of the game. The rain, which may have scared some away, did not start to any meaningful extent until the 4th quarter. Once it did, the stands started to empty out, and the percentage of Packer fans present increased dramatically by the end of the game. The Packers got a pretty hearty send-off from the Packer fans at the corner of the field on the other side, where the team goes on its way to the locker room.

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