It was a sad, strange sight to see WR Donald Driver standing on the sideline Sunday for nearly the entirety of Green Bay’s season-opening, 30-22 loss to San Francisco.

With his helmet on, ready and waiting, the guy who for so long ran out of the slot for the Packers offense, or leaped into the arms of euphoric fans at Lambeau Field, or onto the back of former QB Brett Favre after a touchdown completion, stood beside coaches, backups and inactives.

Driver has played in 193 games over 14 years, all for the same franchise. He’s the Packers' all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and million-dollar smiles. Beloved by cheeseheads, Driver has been a fixture both in fans’ hearts and on the field since 1999. Last season, he started 16 games and finished with seven touchdowns.

But in the Packers’ Week 1 upset loss to the 49ers, Driver didn’t get into the game until the last drive, with less than two minutes remaining, and only because Greg Jennings took himself out with a groin injury. Entering to cheers from an adoring and attentive crowd, Driver played the final three snaps and wasn’t targeted.

Driver wasn’t available to the general media after the game, but he did share some thoughts with as he left the locker room.

“That’s the whole thing. I’m disappointed we lost the game,” Driver told “I’m fine with everything else.”

Driver said he hadn’t been told that he wouldn’t play in the game and didn’t know if the lack of playing time would be standard operating procedure the rest of the season, though he added “I’m all right.”

Coach Mike McCarthy addressed the situation at Monday’s press conference, stressing that the offense as a whole wasn’t on the field as much as was planned.

“Donald Driver has played a lot of great football,” McCarthy said. “We’ve played one game. Donald understands that … he understands a quarterback trying to get into a rhythm with his receivers.”

After catching 37 passes for 445 yards in 2011, the 37-year-old had an eventful offseason. He competed on and won TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which increased his national exposure and made him even more popular in Wisconsin. Still, with a 2012 salary of $5 million and given his declining role in the offense, there was speculation the Packers would cut Driver. Instead, they restructured his contract to bring him back at half that amount.

Before training camp, Driver said he was going to retire a Packer, though he also indicated he wanted to play another season or two. In camp, Driver appeared to be in phenomenal physical shape and outplayed younger players challenging for his spot.

The Packers kept six WRs on the 53-man roster, but undrafted rookie Jarrett Boykin was inactive for the 49ers game. Like Driver, Boykin doesn’t contribute on special teams. Against San Francisco, dynamic second-year WR Randall Cobb took Driver’s place in the slot and caught all nine passes thrown to him for 77 yards. Cobb also returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown.

Follow Packers reporter James Carlton on Twitter @CBSPackers.