The Green Bay Packers put up a valiant effort but fell just short in a 24-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in a driving rainstorm. Aaron Jones ran for 108 yards and Jordan Love completed passes to nine different receivers but in the end, the Packers couldn’t quite pull off the win. Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 24-21 loss to the 49ers.

First Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Aaron Jones Came Up Big

Jones continued his fine play down the stretch. He topped 100 yards for the fifth straight game, becoming the first player in franchise history to accomplish that feat. Jones ran 18 times for 108 yards including an exciting 53-yard run in the fourth quarter that put the Packers into field goal range. That came against the best run defense in the NFL.

Jones was the engine that made this offense go down the stretch and, in the playoffs. He remains a vital part of this football team when healthy and he’s a difference maker for the offense.

Second Thing We Learned: Anders Carlson Hurt the Packers Again

Rookie kicker Anders Carlson continued his inconsistent play and it really hurt the Packers in this game. Carlson made two field goals from 29 yards out but had a chance to put the Pack ahead by seven midway through the fourth quarter. The rookie hooked a 41-yard try.

For the season, Carlson missed six extra points (including the playoffs) and seven field goals. The former Auburn star’s miss was costly in this game. There would have been a very different dynamic had the Packers led by seven before the 49ers started their final drive. The game may have gone to overtime had Carlson connected.

Rich Bisaccia will have to work more with Carlson to improve his consistency and the Packers should bring in a kicker to challenge him in training camp next year.

Third Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Jordan Love Spread the Ball Around

The Packers offense does not rely on one receiver and that was apparent again in this game. Love completed 21 passes in the game to nine different receivers. Three players were targeted six times while Jayden Reed and Romeo Doubs led the team with four catches each.

Even in the rain, Love was able to take his time and find the open receiver until the very end. The Packers were in this game until the closing seconds.

Fourth Thing We Learned: The Offense Needed to Be Better in the Red Zone

The Packers offense got into the red zone five times against San Francisco but only scored two touchdowns. Twice they settled for field goals and once they turned it over on downs when Love’s attempt at tush push was stopped short.

A week ago, the Packers were 4-for-4 in the red zone. Had they scored one more touchdown, they likely would have won the football game.

Red zone efficiency hurt the Packers in the first half of the season, and it hurt them again in this close loss.

Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Defense Had Chances for Interceptions

The Packers defense played well overall and certainly gave the team a chance to win. But Joe Barry’s group failed to create a turnover and that hurt the Packers.

Darnell Savage had a big opportunity for an interception in the first quarter with the Packers ahead 3-0. A short field could have given the Pack a chance to extend the lead.

Keisean Nixon had a chance in the second half for a pick, but he couldn’t hold on to it either.

There were also some missed tackles during the game but overall, the defense played well. They had only one sack although they did pressure Brock Purdy frequently and had six quarterback hits.

In the end, the lack of turnovers probably was another reason the Packers defense fell just short.

Sixth Thing We Learned: Special Teams Made Some Big Plays

The Packers special teams made some big plays. Colby Wooden blocked a field goal right before the half that kept the score 7-6 at the break.

Nixon made a big play when he returned a kickoff 73 yards. Nixon fumbled but Eric Wilson showed great hustle to recover the fumble and set the Packers up in great field position. That set up Love’s touchdown pass to Tucker Kraft that put the Packers ahead 21-14.

The special teams unit also converted a two-point conversion on a pass to Jones that gave the Packers a seven-point lead.

Other than the missed field goal, the special teams units did a very good job for the Packers in this game.

Seventh Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Defense Couldn’t Quite Stop Christian McCaffrey

The Packers run defense has been an issue all season and while they weren’t awful, they didn’t quite stop Christian McCaffrey. The versatile runner gained 98 yards on 17 carries and scored two touchdowns. He also caught seven passes but for just 30 yards.

Still, McCaffrey came up with big plays including a 39-yard touchdown run and he averaged 5.8-yards per carry for the game.

McCaffrey wasn’t dominant, but he came up big in the clutch and helped his team win the football game.

Eighth Thing We Learned: This Young Packers Team Couldn’t Quite Finish

This was an evenly played football game between two very good teams. The Packers lack of experience probably hurt them in the clutch as they just couldn’t make the plays necessary to close out the game.

Hopefully, the experience they gained in these two playoff games will be building blocks for this team going forward.

Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Jordan Love Couldn’t Quite Complete the Comeback

The Packers were down three points and got the ball back on their own 25 with 1:07 left to play and three timeouts. A field goal would have tied the game and sent it to overtime, a touchdown would have won it.

Love picked up one first down before making an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by Dre Greenlaw. Love tried to throw across his body to the opposite side of the field to Christian Watson. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough on the ball and Watson was also surrounded by three defenders.

Hopefully, Love will learn from this experience and be ready to take the next step in 2024.

Tenth Thing We Learned: This Young Team Has a Bright Future

The youngest team in football went toe-to-toe with the NFC’s top seed on the road and nearly won the game. This team has nothing to be ashamed of after losing by three points in what was their first trip to the playoffs for most of these players.

The future looks bright for the Green Bay Packers as we head into a critical offseason in the building of this franchise. The Packers exceeded expectations by retooling, finding their next quarterback, and making a strong showing in the playoffs.

Now, it’s time to start preparations for the 2024 season. Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur have a lot of work ahead of them and some tough decisions to make.




Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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