Center Jonathan Goodwin (59), guard Mike Iupati (77) and guard Alex Boone (75) were terrific against the Packers. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Colin Kaepernick was the headline act in the 49ers’ playoff victory over the Packers Saturday night, but the team’s offensive line had a game that was just as dominating.
Time and again throughout the telecast of the divisional-round game, replays showed 49ers blockers steamrolling Green Bay linemen and linebackers and opening huge holes for Kaepernick and running backs Frank Gore and LaMichael James.
The blocking of wide receivers, running backs, tight ends and the fullback on plays downfield also was exceptional.
Tackles Joe Staley and Anthony Davis, guards Mike Iupati and Alex Boone and center Jonathan Goodwin drew attention from the TV crew. Iupati especially was singled out for his takedowns.
On Sunday, in fact, former 49ers guard and TV analyst Randy Cross wrote on Twitter: “It’s been a while since I’ve seen an OG dominate like Mike Iupati yesterday, very Larry Allen-esque. On film it’s even better than TV!”
Allen was a seven-time All-Pro guard for the Dallas Cowboys who retired after the 2007 season.
The 49ers had a franchise-record (for postseason) 579 total yards in total offense in the 45-31 win over Green Bay, and San Francisco rushed for 323 yards. Gore had 119 yards on the ground and Kaepernick set an NFL record for a quarterback by rushing for 181 yards. Film reviews showed Kaepernick rushed for 178 of those yards before being touched by the Packers defense.
Niners blockers were indeed opening up huge holes. If they can repeat their peformance this coming Sunday against the No. 1 seeded Falcons in Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game, Kaepernick and Co. could have another big day.
Right tackle Davis, always active on Twitter, posted after the game: “A lot more ass to be kicked. 2 wins away from being World Champions. One play at a time.” Added Davis in another tweet: “Record for most yards by an offense in 49ers Playoff History. QB had the most Rushing yards in NFL playoff history. No Big Deal lol. Love it.”
Left tackle Joe Staley also chimed in on Twitter, writing: “@AnthonyDavis76 dominated tonight. Love my tackle brother.”
As Mike Sando of ESPN wrote, the 49ers have a talented and veteran offensive line that has played exceptionally well together the past two seasons. Backup Alex Boone took over the right guard spot this season and has made the line even better.
“Our offensive line came out and they dominated upfront, so that makes it easy on a quarterback,” Kaepernick told the media after Saturday night’s win.
The combination of the Niners’ physical and skilled blockers up front, the read-option running attack the team has gone to out of the Pistol formation and Kaepernick’s speed and running skill can make for a tough combination for a defense to deal with, Staley told columnist Mark Purdy of the Bay Area News Group.
“This offense creates a lot of confusion,” Staley said. “When you get guys that are confused, it’s a little easier to block them.”
ESPN analyst Kevin Seifert, a day after the game, said the 49ers offensive line was exceedingly effective.
“The 49ers’ offensive line deserves credit for opening lanes that Kaepernick could run through untouched,” he wrote. “It would be understandable if they (defenders) were a step behind arguably the NFL’s fastest quarterback. But for him to be untouchable? I’m not sure Kaepernick – or any NFL player – deserves that much credit.”