GREEN BAY – If you were screaming at your high-definition flat screen when you saw Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry lined up on Anquan Boldin on a play in the fourth quarter, you were right to think that it would have been crazy for the Packers to cover the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver with Perry.
The thing is, Perry wasn’t supposed to cover him. But his mistake was a major factor in what turned out to be a 34-28 loss.
On the play, Perry was lined up on Boldin between slot receiver Vernon Davis and the right numbers while cornerback Sam Shields was playing back, in a zone to defend both Boldin and fullback Bruce Miller, who’d lined up wide. At the snap. Perry bailed out immediately and headed to cover Miller while Shields broke inside to cover Boldin.
The problem? Perry didn’t do the one thing he was supposed to do before leaving Boldin: He failed to smack him at the line of scrimmage. Instead, Boldin got a clean release and quarterback Colin Kapernick was able to hit him 18 yards downfield before Shields could get there to defend the play. Boldin then got 25 more yards after the catch as Shields and McMillian missed tackles on the 43-yard gain to set up the go-ahead touchdown. The Packers were up, 28-24, at the time.
“You’re in a three-deep zone and you want to try to keep the guys out of the seams on that, so you want to try to jam the seams and slow them down because you’re playing zone defense over the top of it,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers explained. “Really, we uncovered (Boldin) too quick on that. The problem was we missed (then) two tackles and lost leverage coming off the back side (after he caught it). So what (should have) ended up being a 15, 20-yard gain ends up being a 43-yard gain.”
Asked specifically if Perry was supposed to jam Boldin at the line, Capers said yes.
“We have to try to,” Capers said. “We call it punch and widen.”
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