Upon Further Review: 49ers shut down Rodgers, Packers’ offense
Things started going sideways for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers almost immediately Sunday night.
A strip sack on the Packers’ fifth play from scrimmage set the San Francisco 49ers up on Green Bay’s 2-yard line. Tevin Coleman scored on the ensuing play, and the 49ers never trailed again.
Green Bay was held under 200 yards of total offense for the second time in three games, while Rodgers posted one of the worst stat lines of his career en route to a 37-8 loss.
Head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense finally got something going in the third quarter, but it didn’t amount to much more than a speed bump for the 49ers. Rodgers flipped the ball to Adams on second-and-2, who ditched Richard Sherman on the right side and practically walked into the end zone behind a key block from David Bakhtiari. Rodgers and Adams linked up again for the two-point conversion to make it a two-possession game.
It took the 49ers two plays to kill the Packers’ momentum with a 61-yard touchdown pass.
Meanwhile, the Packers’ drive chart prior to Adams’ touchdown scramble looked like this: Fumble, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt, punt.
Even when things were going well — like, say, when Adrian Amos dropped Jimmy Garoppolo on third-and-5 near midfield in the first quarter — they weren’t. Kevin King was penalized for illegal use of hands on the play, negating the sack and setting up a 49ers field goal a few plays later.
Speaking of sacks: Rodgers was brought down five times Sunday night — matching a season high — the same number of times he was sacked in the Chargers and Panthers games combined.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Veteran linebacker Za’Darius Smith came to play Sunday, even if the offense didn’t. Smith racked up six tackles, three quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks, including a particularly meaningful takedown in the second quarter. More on that in a moment. Smith is up to 10 sacks through 11 games — Preston Smith leads the Packers with 10.5 — after posting a career high 8.5 sacks last season.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME
Sunday’s game featured a rare Tim Boyle sighting. Rodgers’ backup played his first snaps since Week 7 — he got to take a knee three times against the Raiders — and completed his first regular-season pass, a five-yard toss to backup tight end Robert Tonyan. Signed last year as an undrafted free agent, Boyle went 3-for-4 for 15 yards. Good job, Tim.
Smith flashed a touching tribute to the mother of a member of the Packers’ equipment staff during Sunday’s game. The veteran linebacker showed off a homemade “We heart Eileen” shirt after sacking Garoppolo in the second quarter.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 25, 2019
Football Outsiders’ second-ranked defense by DVOA, the 49ers thoroughly shut Rodgers down. The Packers quarterback went 20-for-33 for 104 yards, averaging just 3.15 yards per attempt. It’s the first time he’s been held under four yards per passing attempt since 2015. The Jets’ Sam Darnold is the only other quarterback this season to throw for fewer yards on 30-plus passing attempts in a single game.
THEY SAID IT
“We just keep putting ourselves in these tough positions. When it’s third-and-forever or second-and-forever, it’s tough to come back against a good team like that.” — Davante Adams.
“We have leadership in this locker room. It kind of surfaced there in some post-game remarks by some of the guys. I’m not going to get into who said what, but it was definitely encouraging hearing some of those voices. I feel good about our culture, but we have to improve on offense and set the tone a little bit better than we did.” — Aaron Rodgers.
The loss drops the 8-3 Packers into a tie with the Minnesota Vikings (on bye in Week 12) for first place in the NFC North. However, Green Bay’s path forward looks a little easier. The Packers visit the Giants in Week 13, then host the Redskins and Bears, before closing out the season at Minnesota and Detroit. Meanwhile, the Vikings visit the 9-2 Seahawks in Week 13. Either way, expect fireworks when the Vikings and Packers meet in Minneapolis in Week 16.