In response to multiple questions about the defensive approach, Raji replied: “That’s a question better left for the coordinator.”
Asked what halftime adjustments were made, Woodson replied, “It was just about trying to execute the defense we were running. That's what it boils down to. If it works, then it works. If it doesn't, then like I say, maybe you change. If not, you just try to execute.”
Woodson and McCarthy both said that they employed a “spy” on occasion against Kaepernick – linebackers Erik Walden, Brad Jones and Clay Matthews all did it at various points, as did Woodson – but it never really worked. Even McCarthy had to acknowledge that, replying to one spy question, “You might not have noticed, but we did.”
And yet, despite all their mistakes in all three phases, it was still 24-24 with 8:25 left in the third quarter when Kaepernick broke free on his 56-yard TD – “The end came down, our receivers blocked the corner and the safety, there was nobody else left,” he described it, succinctly – and even after that, the Packers had their chances.
On the drive after Kaepernick’s run made it 31-24, Rodgers scrambled for a 17-yard gain on third-and-10, but the drive stalled. And when the 49ers scored again on the next series – their touchdown drives after the 24-24 tie would cover 80, 93 and 93 yards – the Packers again saw a promising drive stall out just short of midfield.
“We didn't do enough on offense. We could have helped our defense out a little bit,” said Rodgers, who finished the night with misleading numbers (26 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and one sack (91.5 rating) because of a late touchdown pass to Jennings. “The second half we had a chance. We were right in it. A touchdown there on the first possession would have put us in a good situation, but we came up short.
“We gift-wrapped them 14 points on two turnovers and we were in the game. Our defense was doing all right. Then the second half we just didn't score any points. … We knew we were going to have to score some points. I'm disappointed we couldn't get any on that first drive out of the second half. But we were able to come back and get a field goal and they go down and score and we knew were probably going to have to put up 38 points at least to win the game."
And now begins an uncertain offseason. After the game, Woodson, Finley, Hawk, Driver and Jennings all spoke of not knowing what the future holds. They don’t know where they’ll be next season, and the franchise has to be wondering where it’s headed as well.
“The reality of it is, there will probably be some changes made,” Jennings said. “Hopefully, I’m here. But if not, I’m ready to move wherever. It is what it is. I’m not naïve to that, being a realist. I love this organization. I really wouldn’t want to go anywhere else, but if I have to that’s what I’m ready to do.
“We lost. It is what it is.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.