Photo credit: @CBSSportsHQ
By: Joe Lami
Absolutely gut-wrenching, the only words to explain the San Francisco 49ers’ toughest loss of the season, as a late heroic comeback from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers beats the 49ers 33-30 at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football.
“We had every opportunity to win and finish the game and didn’t get it done,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
He’s exactly right. The 49ers did have every chance to get it done in front of a nationwide audience. He called an electric first half of football, where the 49ers went into the break leading 24-20, despite coughing the ball up twice. 290 yards of offense, led by great outside running from both Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida.
The run set up the pass. C.J. Beathard had a near-perfect passer rating in the first half, including two deep strikes to Marquise Goodwin that went for scores of 67 yards and 30 yards, respectively. Goodwin’s 114 receiving yards in the first half were the most from a 49ers’ receiver in over five years.
Everything was set-up from discipline. The 49ers committed only one penalty in the first half for five yards. Things were looking good for the red and gold and appearing like they were about to steal one at Lambeau, and then the second half happened.
The 49ers were just unable to put this game away, despite a great second half from the defense. The front seven came alive for the first time all season, finishing with three sacks, seven QB hits, and seven tackles for loss.
The defense just didn’t get the help from the offense in the second half, as they were only able to muster up six points and were unable to move the ball in the fourth to put the game away when they still had a 30-23 lead.
The fourth could’ve gone as bad as possible for San Francisco. Terrible play calling and horrendous game management saw 27 yards of total offense in the fourth capped by three consecutive three-and-outs to close the game.
The 49ers could’ve gotten past the 27 yards of offense in the fourth, but decided to throw the ball instead of run the clock out and gave way too much time to one of the best passers in the history of the NFL.
Down by seven with 3:00 left, Rodgers went on a quick 1:05 five-play drive that found Devante Adams in the end-zone to tie things at 30, still giving San Francisco a shot.
Even better, a great return by Richie James capped by a personal foul penalty put the ball at San Francisco’s 47-yard line. San Francisco pushed the ball to the Green Bay 46-yard line and on 3rd and three, Shanahan called for a deep ball instead of a short pass to attempt to pick up the first down with three timeouts in his back pocket.
The deep ball was picked off, and once again, San Francisco put the ball into the hands of Rodgers at his own 10 with no timeouts.
The defense stood tall initially and even got a sack on third down from DeForest Buckner, but was taken away by their second penalty of the game, as Richard Sherman was whistled for illegal contact.
That was one mistake too many, as Rodgers torched the San Francisco defense, especially picking on Greg Mabin, who entered the game for an injured Jimmie Ward.
The 49ers’ defense was unable to protect the sidelines, allowing Green Bay to march down the field setting up a 27-yard Mason Crosby walk-off field goal.
The players sure don’t deserve this loss in their best performance of the season. Breida finished with 61 yards on 14 carries. Mostert had a tremendous bounce-back performance picking up 87 yards on 12 explosive carries. Goodwin caught four of five targets for 126 yards and two scores, while George Kittle caught four passes for 60 yards. Beathard finished the game 16-of-23 for 245, two scores, and a pick.
This one solely rests on the shoulders of Shanahan, who relived his epic Super Bowl collapse and once again showed his inability to protect a lead and close out a game.
The season can now go in two directions. The 49ers can build off an incredible game that saw one of the best quarterbacks of our generation comeback for an epic win or they can collapse in the abyss.
The 49ers’ road doesn’t get any easier, as they’ll host the undefeated Rams on Sunday at 1:25 pm PT on CBS.