Sunday night was to be the San Francisco 49ers homecoming game, a game in which they were to be named King. Instead, the kid from the rival school did what he does best, and got to be the King of Levi’s, as the 49ers lost to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 38-20.
That they came that close was actually a bit of a miracle, seeing as San Francisco was down 17-0 in the second quarter, had no run game to speak of, were (and are) desperately in need of help at cornerback, left their their pass rush in Philly and were playing Aaron Rodgers.
“I think we got to play a lot better than we did,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “Just some of the mistakes that we made, especially early in the game in the first half, especially on third down with some critical situations. I think what you guys saw there at the end, just getting back into the game shows some of the players we have on our team. I thought there were some great individual efforts of guys just making unbelievable plays that got us in and gave us a chance to win that game. But some mistakes that we made throughout the game, you don’t win a lot of football doing that and that’s what we got to clean up.”
With under a minute to play in the game, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led a drive that resulted in a 12-yard touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk, giving the 49ers a 28-27 lead (their first of the game) with 37 seconds left in the game.
“There’s always too much time on the clock if there’s ever time on the clock,” tight end George Kittle said. “Especially if it’s Aaron Rodgers.”
Correct. 37 seconds is like forever to Rodgers, so after two quick completions of 25 and 17 yards to wide receiver Davante Adams, Packers kicker Mason Crosby made a 51-yard FG as time expired. Game. Set. Match.
— NFL (@NFL) September 27, 2021
“I feel like we just have to execute,” said safety Jimmie Ward. “I feel like we had a great call on that drive. We just have to execute. I can’t think of too much more to say about that. Shout out to them, they made plays. Adams made plays. Aaron Rodgers was being Aaron Rodgers and great. Shout out to their coach too.”
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) September 27, 2021
Speaking of their coach, it has been reported this week that there is some tension between Shanahan and Mike LeFleur stemming from the inquiry into trading for Rodgers during the offseason. After the game, the two had a quick hello and goodbye.
“I think I was just pissed about the game,” Shanahan said. “It ended on the last play and I wasn’t trying to hang out too long in the middle of the field.”
San Francisco has about as beat up a running back situation as a team could and it showed, with the team finishing the night with 67 yards rushing and an average of 3.2 yard a carry. Not ideal for an offense that relies on the run game to make the passing game work.
“They did a good job,” fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “Usually we’re able to set the edge on offense when it comes to our outsize zone, but they had a good plan for us and shutting that down.”
Juszczyk was a bright spot on the night, with four receptions for 37 yards and the aforementioned touchdown, as well as carrying the ball five times for 14 yards. Basically, wherever they needed him, he was.
The pass rush managed just one sack and two hits on Rodgers, while the already-depleted secondary became even more depleted. Nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams left the game early in the first half with a calf injury, and cornerback Josh Norman followed him shortly thereafter with a chest injury. Emmanuel Moseley returned from injury for the first time this season, but both he and rookie Deommodore Lenoir were called for costly defensive pass interference penalties. The officiating had its moments, but if they call it, it’s a penalty.
Rodgers finished the night 23-of-33 for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
Over in the 49ers passing game, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk was much more a factor, recording his first touchdown of the season on the opening drive of the second half, and ending the night with four receptions for 37 yards. Garoppolo finished the night 25-of-40 for 257 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and a costly fumble that led to a Packers field goal.
“We were trying to run a screen pass,” Garoppolo said. “Running back, got caught up in the line a little bit. Just got caught in between throwing it. I was trying to throw it away as the guy hit my arm and, you know, unfortunate call by the refs there for a fumble.”
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) September 27, 2021
It was a tough loss, but it’s Week 3, San Francisco is 2-1, and there is a lot of football left to play, starting next week when the Seattle Seahawks come to town.
“If you focus on it too much, you sulk on it too much it’s going to affect you going into the next week,” said tight end George Kittle. “And what good is that? Whether, it’s riding the high of a win or mourning the loss, you got to flush it after the 24 hours and get ready to go after it again. And yeah, like I said, if you mourn on it too long, it affects your next week and then you’re a day behind and you can’t really be a day behind on the Seattle Seahawks because you know they’re going to bring it. Because they just had a loss too, so it’s going to be two angry teams fighting out.”