Arguably the watershed moment of Sunday’s Packers-49ers game was the Superman-esque hit that Clay Matthews gave to Colin Kaepernick.

There’s no question that Matthews wasn’t just a tad late. The plane had already taxied onto the runway by the time he showed up at the gate. That’s how late he was.

Kaepernick’s entire body was past the white out-of-bounds line and still Matthews came out of nowhere to make one of the more athletic plays I’ve seen a defensive player make in a long time.

But the Packers’ attitude changed after that play. And let me just say that I’m not a believer in things that can’t be judged like toughness or momentum. But I was very impressed at how quickly Matthews’ teammates rallied around him.

It almost reminded me of when a baseball manager gets tossed on purpose just to send a message to his players.

Obviously Matthews didn’t get tossed. But after it happened initially, that was my first reaction. I thought defensive coordinator Dom Capers would lose his four-time Pro Bowler early in the second quarter in a game that will begin to have more meaning when the snow starts flying.

But even before the refs handed out offsetting penalties to Matthews and San Francisco left tackle Joe Staley, several Packers dotted the sideline to stick up for their do-everything linebacker.

I’m not going to say that the play is a microcosm of how much tougher the Packers are going to be. Because who knows that for sure on a pretty stupid play made by a guy not known such foolishness.

I was most impressed with the team aspect of these guys. They went out to Candlestick Park, played against a team they’ve had proven problems with and never backed down despite coming into the game without its starting free safety and nickel back due to nagging hamstring issues.

While I was impressed with the athletic side to Matthews play, I was more wowed by what transpired immediately after. This is a young team that needs to grow up together and they need to do it in a hurry.

After what I saw on Sunday, that’s going to happen a lot quicker than I thought.


Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn