It was supposed to be a real test when the San Francisco 49ers took on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Well, spoiler alert: they passed with flying colors.
The 49ers dominated Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to the tune of 37-8 and it was never even close.
Where It Began
On the first drive of the game, 49ers’ LB Fred Warner sacked Rodgers and forced a fumble, which Nick Bosa ran to the Green Bay two-yard line. The offense came in and five seconds later (literally), the 49ers scored their first touchdown and never looked back.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) November 25, 2019
Guess what guys. This team is not pretending. The 10-1 49ers are very much for real, which comes from leadership and consistency in all facets of the game.
QB1 In Every Sense
It was the second quarter. The 49ers had gone three-and-out on consecutive drives, and Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers looked to be settling in. Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t having it.
“I think my favorite thing in the game was…I think it was after our third drive…Jimmy got the whole offense together and was like, ‘Hey. We’ve got to play with intensity. Our defense is playing their asses off. We’ve just got to take advantage of the opportunities they’re giving us, ’cause Aaron Rodgers is a…Hall-of-Fame quarterback. We just can’t give him the opportunity to come back and beat us,'” Kittle said. “So that was really awesome and everything after that just kind of took off, because of what Jimmy said.”
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) November 25, 2019
Leaders gonna lead.
Shanahan called Garoppolo’s 14-of-20 for 253 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions performance “pretty flawless.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman would like some respect put on his quarterback’s name.
“Jimmy Garoppolo is our leader, and we will follow him into…a dark alley, and I guarantee you that you won’t touch him,” Sherman said. “…He goes to battle and to fight for us every day, and we have an obligation to go to battle and fight for him. You hear some of the noise and the things said about him and it’s frustrating…The guy looks for no credit…And then you have people nit-picking…The one thing you can appreciate is being good enough that people have to make excuses for why you’re good. He’s a good enough quarterback that people have to make excuses…What else can the guy do? He’s helping his football team win football games and he deserves a ton more credit for that.”
As for his performance and improvement throughout the season, Garoppolo gave credit all-around.
“…[Obviously having great players around me makes my job a lot easier,” said Garoppolo. “When the defense is playing how they were playing, special teams, there’s a lot that goes into it. As far as just being comfortable with the offense and getting the game plan down throughout the week, it’s become easier and easier. Just got to keep trending in the right direction now.”
All signs point to trending up.
Welcome Back Kittle
What a difference a tight end makes. After being out the last two weeks, George Kittle, and the bone chip in his ankle, were back on the field, and all was right on offense again.
“…[He] means a ton,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan after the game. “You guys all know that. It was hard without him and to have him back tonight, obviously what he did in the pass game. But, what he does in the run game is equally as important. It was great to have him out there.”
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) November 25, 2019
Kittle finished the night with six receptions for 129 yards and one beautiful 61-yard touchdown.
“George, he’s awesome,” said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. “The energy he brings on the sideline, getting guys involved, getting guys talking in the huddle even, it’s little things like that. Obviously, you guys see what he does on the field. I throw him a 2-yard route and he takes it for whatever, 20-30 yards, runs a great route, scores a touchdown. It’s all the little things that he does, though, that goes so unnoticed.”
He’s also tough as hell, playing with the aforementioned bone chip in his ankle.
“It’s football,” Kittle said. “It’s fine. I mean, yeah. It’s a mindset. You just have to go out and play football. That’s all it is.”
Raise your hand if you skipped a workout because you were sore? This man played with a broken bone!
Fred Warner and the Elite 49ers’ Defense
Once again, the 49ers’ defense hit elite status, holding Aaron Rodgers to 104 yards passing and sacking him five times. Credit for those sacks goes to Fred Warner (1), Arik Armstead (2), Nick Bosa (1, meaning the shrug was back), DeForest Buckner (0.5), and Jaquiski Tartt (0.5). Team work does indeed make the dream work.
It was another monster game for Warner, who has emerged as a defensive leader in his second year in the NFL, especially since losing LB Kwon Alexander for the season.
“Fred has been unbelievable all year,” said Shanahan. “Today, I’ll see it better when I watch the film, but just every time I looked up he was making plays. Going sideline to sideline being able to make some big hits and not get penalties while doing it. And, what he does just from getting us in the right call standpoint, he’s unbelievable. We’ve got a bunch of checks, mix our scheme up a lot and Fred doesn’t make a mistake all game.”
Warner finished the night with 11 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, and that forced fumble early in the game. Not too shabby.
“Oh, it was a big tone setter,” Buckner said. “We came out guns blazing. That’s the kind of energy you want us to start off with, especially with a team like that. For the offense to capitalize off of it, it was just a great start to the game.”