If someone told you Jimmy Garoppolo only threw 20 passes in a game, you would probably think that the San Francisco 49ers offense was shaky and that maybe they had enough to squeak by whom they were playing. On Sunday night, however, that could not have been farther from the truth.
The 49ers wasted no time jumping on the Green Bay Packers in their 37-8 blowout victory. An opening drive fumble from Aaron Rodgers in his own red zone led to a Tevin Coleman two-yard touchdown run. The teams would trade punts for a few possessions before a Chase McClaughlin 29 yard field goal put San Francisco up 10-0.
McLaughlin would connect again late in the second quarter to extend his side’s lead to 13-0. Another three and out from the 49ers defense gave Garoppolo the ball with under two minutes in the half. This happened twice.
The first led to a quick 42-yard touchdown strike from Garoppolo to Deebo Samuel, who was limited in practice all week with a shoulder injury. The second three and out would be the fifth one pitched by the 49ers defense in the first half.
George Kittle continued to make his presence felt in his first game back since week 9. Garoppolo would find Kittle on a 22 yard gain, setting up Chase McLaughlin for his third field goal of the half. This time the rookie kicker would connect from 48 yards out, 23-0 San Francisco at the half. This was the 49ers defense’s second first-half shutout of the year.
“It just looked like pass rush and coverage,” San Francisco head coach Kyle Shannahan said after the game on his defense’s success against Aaron Rodgers. “We did a good job keeping him in the pocket… guys weren’t open in rhythm.”
Defense Wins Games
The 49ers defense held Rodgers to just 104 passing yards. That is his lowest number since November 1st, 2015, in a loss to the Denver Broncos. As mentioned in the preview of this game, keeping Rodgers in tough third-down situations would be vital for winning. San Francisco’s defense executed that to perfection.
Green Bay would come out firing in the second half. Following a forced three and out of their own, Rodgers capped a 65-yard drive with a two-yard shovel pass to Davante Adams for their first, and only, touchdown of the game. Adams would finish with a modest 43 yards on seven receptions.
Hey Diddle Diddle… Here Comes Kittle
That momentum would quickly come to a halt. Kittle, adding on to his fantastic return, found himself wide open downfield for a 61-yard touchdown bomb from Garoppolo. That extended their lead to 30-8. Kittle would end his day with 129 yards on six catches on top of his touchdown.
“Yeah, those first two drives were definitely not my best football. I had a pass that I was pretty disappointed with myself in.” said the star tight end post-game in response to how he got back in the flow of an NFL game. ‘But yeah after that things kind of got rolling, and it felt good”. Kittle had missed the previous two games dealing with knee and ankle issues.
Green Bay put together a decent 12 play drive before eventually turning the ball over on downs. A 69-yard drive from San Francisco would ice the game, as Raheem Mostert found his way to the end zone from 15 yards out.
No Breida? No Problem
Matt Breida missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. However, the 49ers have received enormous contributions from Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman. Mostert gained 45 yards on six carries, plus a nice 22-yard catch. Coleman also plunged for 39 yards on 11 carries on top of his touchdown run. Second-year back Jeff Wilson also had 27 yards on just two carries.
Defense Shines Again
There’s a reason the top-ranked 49ers defense leads the league in the least amount of yards allowed per game. The depth they have among their defensive front is outstanding. Nick Bosa and Fred Warner performed their usual acts, each getting to Rodgers once. Warner also led the team with 11 tackles.
Arik Armstead continues to dominate this year as well. He recorded two sacks, his ninth and tenth of the year, and logged his second multi-sack game of the season.
Winning the Turnover Battle
Despite just a +6 in their turnover differential, San Francisco’s defense has forced 23 turnovers this year. That’s third in the league behind just the Patriots and Steelers. Another thing I mentioned in my preview was the Packers’ ability to hang onto the football. The 49ers got to Rodgers early and had him off-balance the rest of the way.
The 49ers maintain lone possession of the top seed in the NFC following the win, moving to 10-1. This was San Francisco’s third win of 25 points or more this season. They will be tested on the road next week, where they take on the red hot Ravens in Baltimore.
Green Bay falls to 8-3 with the disappointing loss following the bye week. The 29 point loss is Green Bay’s most significant margin of defeat since week 17 of last year when the Lions blasted them 31-0. DeShone Kizer started that game. They get a chance to regroup on the road next week when they visit the New York Giants.
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