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January 5, 2014
Halftime: Hot start for 49ers, but Rodgers sizzling, too


The 49ers started out hot in the Upper Midwest freeze but Aaron Rodgers suddenly is on fire, too. San Francisco leads Green Bay 13-10 and will get the ball first to open the second half.

The 49ers went on long drives on each of their first two possessions but couldn't punch the ball into the end zone from the Green Bay 4- and then the 7-yard line, settling for short Phil Dawson field goals instead. That meant that a more efficient offense could quickly get back into the game, and that exactly what happened in the second quarter.

Packers cornerback Tramon Williams picked off a bad throw by Colin Kaepernick at the start of the quarter, and then Packers sleepy offense - six yards in the first quarter -- suddenly woke up and went on a 14-play drive. Rodgers and the Packers failed to pick up a first down in the opening quarter. They only needed to convert two on their long drive, including a short touchdown pass from Rodgers to receiver Jordy Nelson under the outstretched arm of cornerback Tramaine Brock.

On the ensuing drive, Kaepernick looked a lot like he did in last year's playoff game against Green Bay, scrambling through the center of the Packers defense for a 42-yard run, his longest of the season. Two plays later, Kaepernick gave a read-option handoff to Frank Gore, who barreled in for a touchdown.

Rodgers and the Packers then responded with a nine-play drive just before the half that ended in a Mason Crosby 34-yard field goal. Counter intuitively, the Packers opened the game with four running plays. Since the second quarter, however, they have returned to their strength, and Rodgers has connected on 11 of his last 13 passes for 97 yards.

His favorite target has been Nelson, who has five catches for 45 yards. Nelson mostly has been working out of the slot where he is matched against newcomer Perrish Cox. The 49ers' regular nickel cornerback, Carlos Rogers, is inactive with a hamstring injury. There has been no sign of Eric Wright, who is active for the game but who suffered his own hamstring injury during the week.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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