Packers top 49ers for first 4-0 start in four years
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — With his receiving corps banged up and depleted, Aaron Rodgers still made all the big throws to keep Green Bay unbeaten and exactly where it expected to be a quarter into the season.
It just took a little while to get warmed up before things got rolling.
Rodgers passed for 224 yards and a touchdown, ran 17 yards to set up a key second-half score, and the Packers beat the hapless San Francisco 49ers 17-3 on Sunday for their first 4-0 start in four years.
"We’re 4-0, we’re first in the division and we’re playing the kind of ball we want to play in most of the phases," Rodgers said matter-of-factly when asked to assess his team. "It was a grind out there."
Richard Rodgers caught a 9-yard touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive before Rodgers got his team going in the second half after a slow start to snap a four-game losing streak to San Francisco, which included a pair of playoff defeats.
Clay Matthews added his own flair to this one. When he sacked Colin Kaepernick in the third quarter, he kissed his right biceps Kaepernick-style to punctuate the play — one of Green Bay’s six sacks to give them 13 in the past two games.
"Fortunately, we were able to wear them down both offensively and defensively and get a big road win," Matthews said.
While methodical with nothing fancy, Green Bay seemed unfazed with a short week and long trip West after beating Kansas City last Monday night. This is the team’s first 4-0 start since winning the initial 13 games in 2011.
Green Bay wanted to get this far unscathed.
"That’s the most important part for our football team," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Going back to when the schedule did come out we could pencil this game."
The Packers certainly hope their trip to Levi’s Stadium will be the first of two this season. The Super Bowl comes to the second-year, $1.3 billion Bay Area venue in four months for its 50th year celebration.
Kaepernick threw his fifth interception in two games and the 49ers (1-3) have been limited to 28 total points over three games while giving up 107 points. The quarterback was booed in the fourth quarter along with rookie punter Bradley Pinion.
Green Bay capitalized shortly after San Francisco’s Reggie Bush was stuffed for no gain trying to go up the middle on third-and-11 in a play call that was immediately scrutinized.
On the ensuing drive, James Jones caught a 38-yard pass on the left sideline by barely staying in bounds. Rodgers then scrambled 17 yards to set up John Kuhn’s 1-yard scoring burst.
Green Bay made just enough plays. The Packers sacked Kaepernick on consecutive snaps late in the first half, and the Niners settled for Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal in their best scoring opportunity of the day.
"We’re an offense that can run the ball and throw the ball," 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "We’re not doing either well right now."
Jones wound up with five receptions for 98 yards in the fifth meeting between the rivals since 2012, while Randall Cobb had his streak of seven games with either a touchdown or 100-plus yards receiving snapped. Eddie Lacy ran for 90 yards and converted two fourth downs. Cobb and Richard Rodgers also had five catches apiece.
On one particular 49ers mishap, Australian rookie returner Jarryd Hayne was trying to catch a punt on the sideline when he was run into by two teammates, first L.J. McCray and then Jaquiski Tartt, and the ball bounced off the pile of 49ers before teammate Dontae Johnson recovered.
All of this on a day home run king Barry Bonds and the NBA champion Golden State Warriors were in attendance.
Green Bay went on the road after a Monday night game for just the fifth time since 2006, improving to 4-1 in those games. The Packers also improved to 10-2 during the regular season in California since 1990.
Kaepernick, who had played some of his best games against the Packers, went 13 for 25 for 160 yards and a 55.4 passer rating. Carlos Hyde was held to 20 yards on eight carries.
"We’ve got to collectively on offense have 11 guys going in the same direction," coach Jim Tomsula said.
NOTES: Green Bay S Sean Richardson experienced cramping in the second half, but returned. 49ers WR Quinton Patton was checked for a concussion. . . . Bush returned for the first time since injuring his left calf in a Week 1 win against Minnesota and had just that one run for no yards. . . . Rodgers was sacked three times to match his combined total in the first three games.
- Aaron Rodgers
- Bradley Pinion
- Clay Matthews
- Colin Kaepernick
- Dontae Johnson
- Eddie Lacy
- FOX Sports Wisconsin
- Green Bay Packers
- Jaquiski Tartt
- Jarryd Hayne
- John Kuhn
- L.J. McCray
- Phil Dawson
- Randall Cobb
- Reggie Bush
- Richard Rodgers
- San Francisco 49ers