Anquan Boldin has a habit of making memorable first impressions.
Ten years and one day removed from establishing a rookie record with 217 yards receiving in his professional debut, the three-time Pro Bowler ensured nightmares for Dom Capers and the Green Bay Packers defense for the remainder of the week in his first outing with the San Francisco 49ers.
Behind Boldin’s 13 catches for 208 yards and one touchdown, the 49ers, who torched the green and gold for 579 yards of total offense in the team’s playoff matchup in January, kicked off their final season in Candlestick Park by outlasting Green Bay, 34-28, on Sunday afternoon.
While the Packers linebackers kept quarterback Colin Kaepernick (the Milwaukee native scrambled for a quarterback-record 181 yards in the aforementioned playoff contest) and the San Francisco running attack at bay, the 6’4”, 230-pound signal caller had his way with the Green Bay secondary, amassing a career-best 412 yards through the air (on 27-of-39 passing) and three touchdowns while earning a 129.4 quarterback rating.
Dropping its season opener for the second consecutive season, Green Bay, despite being dominated by their conference rival in time of possession (21:25 to 38:35) and total plays ran (56 to 75), kept the affair close throughout and found themselves in position to escape the Bay Area with a victory late in the fourth quarter.
Never leading throughout the game, the Packers, who have now dropped three straight against San Francisco, staked a 28-24 edge on the heels of first-year running back Eddie Lacy’s two-yard touchdown run with 8:32 to play.
Yet, in a case of unwelcome déjà vu, Kaepernick, on the ensuing possession, swung the momentum back to the 49ers.
Beginning with a five-yard scramble and headlined by a 43-yard hookup with Boldin, Kaepernick guided San Francisco, which tallied 494 yards of total offense and was 50 percent (9-of-18) on its third-down conversions, on a five-play, 72-yard drive culminating in a one-yard Frank Gore touchdown scamper to provide them with a lead they would not relinquish.
After nearly eight months of offseason planning, such was an outcome the Packers did not envision.
Green Bay, which, essentially, abandoned the run in the first half (seven rushing attempts), was led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who, despite battling an aggressive San Francisco defensive front led by Aldon Smith all game, threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns and the 5’11”, 231-pound Lacy, who rushed for 41 yards on 14 carries.
Following a pair of touchdown passes from each quarterback in the opening frame, a melee broke out less than six minutes into the second quarter when Packers linebacker Clay Matthews tackled Kaeperenick as he stepped out of bounds on a keeper. Any Green Bay penalty, however, was offset when an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was assessed to San Francisco tackle Joe Staley, who shoved Matthews shortly after the tackle.
From start to finish, though, the Green Bay defense had no answer for Boldin.
Playing against an undermanned Packers’ secondary—both Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward were out due to injury—the 32-year-old Boldin, who accounted for 65 receptions a season ago in Baltimore, got to wherever he wanted and proved to be more elusive to would-be Green Bay tacklers than Shooter McGavin’s quest for a gold jacket.
Aside from Boldin, San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis proved to be a headache throughout the afternoon for the Packers secondary, as the former Maryland Terrapin caught six passes for 98 yards and a pair of touchdown receptions.
Jordy Nelson (130) and Randall Cobb (108) each accounted for 100-yard receiving days for Green Bay, whose offense produced 385 yards and two turnovers.
Rodgers and the Packers, who have not started a season since 0-2, will seek to claim its first victory of the 2013 campaign when they play host to Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 12:00 p.m. CT.