photo from sfgate: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, center, and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead, bottom, during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019.
By: Joe Lami
SANTA CLARA — Sunday Night’s highly anticipated matchup between the 49ers and Packers probably made NBC decision makers second guess themselves, as the flexed-in game turned out to be a complete drubbing. San Francisco dominated Green Bay 37-8, improving to 10-1 on the season, solidifying themselves as a legit Super Bowl contender.
It’s San Francisco’s largest win over their rival since they shutout Green Bay 35-0 in 1954.
The consistent questioning of who the Niners have beat can finally be laid to rest, after they handed Aaron Rodgers his second-worst performance of his career, throwing 20 of 33 for 104 yards and a touchdown before being pulled late in the fourth quarter. He was held to a career-worst 1.7 yards per dropback, following a bye week.
The pressure got to Rodgers early and often, as the Niners pass-rush hit him ten times, sacking him for five, and forced a fumble at his own 14 on the opening possession. Fred Warner was credited with the strip-sack, while Nick Bosa picked it up but got stopped short of scoring his first career touchdown at the two-yard-line.
It wouldn’t matter though, as Tevin Coleman punched it in on the next play to give San Francisco the early lead.
Arik Armstead led the charge on defense, sacking Rodgers twice, bringing his season total to ten on the season and putting him Top Five in the league. Bosa was also credited with his eighth sack on the season, bumping him to 12th in the NFL, and just 0.5 behind his older brother, Joey.
The Niners’ offense struggled in the early going, despite being handed excellent field position. Until three minutes to go in the first half, where they strung together 13 points in the final moments’ thanks to a 42-yard catch and run from Deebo Samuel for a TD and two Chase McLaughlin field goals to give them a 23-0 halftime lead.
Green Bay finally got on the board in the third quarter, when Bay Area native, Davante Adams, scored his first touchdown of the season, bringing the game with 15 after a two-point conversion.
However, the celebration was short-lived when the Niners fired back immediately with a quick 57-second, 75-yard touchdown drive. 61 of them came on George Kittle catch-and-run, where he completely burned the cornerback on a post-corner route in the middle of the field, before turning on the afterburners to find pay dirt, making it 30-8.
Kittle finished with six catches for 129 yards in his first game since Halloween, where he went down with ankle and knee injuries. Shanahan later confirmed that Kittle played through a broken ankle. Techincally, a chipped bone, though stable, Kittle still needed to battle through the pain. When asked about the pain, Kittle shrugged and said, “that’s football.”
Raheem Mostert ran in San Francisco’s final score from 15-yards out, finishing with six carries for 45 yards and the TD.
Green Bay’s offense only mustered 198 yards, with Aaron Jones chipping in 38 on the ground. Entering the game, Jones led the NFL in rushing TDs with 11. San Francisco’s defense completely dominated Green Bay in every facet.
The Packers picked up their first third-down conversion of the game on the second to last play, with just 1:04 remaining. Holding the Packers to 1/15 on third-down, the Niners were only a minute away from shutting out the Packers on third-down for the first time since 1999.
“They’re just relentless. They play 11 guys so strong, so complimentary of one another with the pash rush, the coverage, our linebackers. It’s incredible to see how smothering all 11 guys can be and that is what they do week in and week out,” said Mike McGlinchy.
Jimmy Garoppolo shined bright and avoided any costly turnovers in a magnificent performance, where he completed 14/20 for 253 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he gave a killer sideline speech that kicked the Niners’ offense into gear when it struggled after the opening possession.
The Niners couldn’t have started their toughest stretch of the season any better, destroying Green Bay at home. They’ll now carry confidence into back-to-back road games against playoff teams in Baltimore and New Orleans.