The San Francisco 49ers were downed in yet another disappointing offensive showing on Sunday afternoon, as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay packers cruised to a 17-3 victory at Levi’s Stadium.
Following a pair of embarrassing losses, the 49ers faced the almost insurmountable task of getting back on track against one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and an undefeated Green Bay team.
But despite a strong defensive showing that gave the 49ers a fighting chance, Colin Kaepernick’s third-consecutive poor outing stymied any chance the struggling team had on regaining a foothold on a sinking season.
Kaepernick continually missed his receivers, completing just 13-of-25 attempts for 160-yards. The struggling quarterback also threw his fifth pick in two games in the fourth quarter.
The clamoring surrounding Kaepernick’s future with the team will undoubtably get louder over the course of the week following Sunday’s game.
But the fifth-year veteran said after the game that he can do the only thing he knows how to do to turn his season around-put in work.
“That’s the only way that I know how to fix things, is to go back to work. Talking about things, analyzing things and all that is good, and has its place, but at the end of the day you have to work to get better.”
When San Francisco decided to attack the Green Bay defense on the ground, it wasn’t with starting running back Carlos Hyde, but instead it was Kaepernick who led the team in rushed with 10 for 57 yards.
While not all came on designed plays, the 49ers reluctance to use starter Carlos Hyde, who finished with just eight carries for 20-yards was yet another peculiar aspect of a frustrating offense.
While Kaepernick’s personal play is certainly a factor in the offense’s shortcomings, the peculiar play selection of the 49ers has limited the upside of the unit as well.
And while Kaepernick stated it was up to the group to find their rhythm, Tomsula did not shy away from deflecting responsibility away from players.
“I have to put everybody in a position to be successful.That’s my job. And obviously, right now, I’m not. So I need to make sure I put people in a position to be successful.”
On the other side of the field, Rodgers continued to display his handle of the game, overcoming a stout defensive effort and pressure from the 49ers front to lead his team to victory.
The 49ers defense could hold their heads up high after holding Rodgers to just one touchdown and 224-yards on the day.
Although it seemed like the 49ers excelled in running a simpler, man-coverage style scheme to contain Rodgers on Sunday, LB NaVorro Bowman stated that it was simply a young defense continuing to mesh together.
“It’s the fourth game. Like I’ve been saying, we’re young, we have a new coaching staff, so it’s going to take a few games for us. But facing a quarterback like Aaron, knowing he’s gonna come in prepared and ready, I think we had a little bit more focus on that. Just trying to make sure all the way up to the game that we were on the same page. And I think that showed today.”
But the MVP came through when it mattered, turning third-and-longs into scoring threats, and beating the 49ers coverage in crucial moments of the game to avoid an upset on the road.
All week-long, head coach Jim Tomsula and defensive coordinator Eric Mangini fielded questions about dealing with an elite player of Rodger’s caliber. On Sunday afternoon, the difficulty of that task became immediately apparent on the game’s opening drive.
The Green Bay offense was given new life after a controversial illegal-contact penalty on ILB Michael Wilhoite negated what would have been a three-and-out following an Ahmad Brooks sack.
Rodgers then showed that if you give him an inch, he’ll take 80-yards, driving the length of the field to notch his first touchdown pass of the game for a 7-0 advantage.
The 49ers mistakes then began to spill over on offense, as dropped passes, penalties and sacks stalled what were promising San Francisco drives.
The 49ers squandered their first red zone opportunity of the game in the second quarter after a pair of sacks moved Kaepernick 17-yards, turning what was a first-and-goal from the five-yard line into a scramble for decent field goal range.
After a near fumble from tight end Vance McDonald, who struggled in place of the injured Vernon Davis, the 49ers settled for a 33-yard field goal from K Phil Dawson to cut the Packers’ lead to four.
But after a tumultuous start to the game, the 49ers tightened up their defense, holding Rodgers to just 76 second-quarter yards, while making a crucial defensive stand before the end of the half to force a 44-yard field goal from K Mason Crosby.
Crosby’s kick missed wide left, leaving the Packers with just seven points on the board before heading into the locker room.
The singular touchdown was the lowest points-total that Green Bay had at the end of the second quarter through the start of the season.
The Packers offense could not be kept at bay for long though, as Rodgers came out of the locker room determined to assert his influence on the game.
The MVP did just that, much to the expense of second-year cornerback Kenneth Acker.
Acker was targeted twice on third-and-long situations, giving up a pair of completions, including a 38-yard bomb to WR James Jones down the sideline, to allow Rodgers and the Packers to continue to keep their offense rolling.
After burning the secondary with his arm, Rodgers showed his ability to be a dual threat quarterback as he escaped for 17-yards on the ground on a second-and-18, coming up just short of the goal line after making defenders miss.
Fullback John Kuhn would finish Rodgers’ escape artist show with a one-yard dive into the end zone for a 14-3 lead.
On the other side of the field, Kaepernick and the 49ers offense hit a brick wall, as poor play calling and covered receivers led to quick three-and-outs that sunk San Francisco’s chance of a comeback.
With the read option failing to open up the passing lanes for San Francisco, Kaepernick found himself having being smothered by the swarming Green Bay defense to the tune of seven second half sacks for a loss of 42-yards.
But when Kaepernick found time to throw the result were hardly any more favorable.
Kaepernick, who tossed four interceptions last week against Arizona in a blowout loss, made yet another mistake after trying to force the ball downfield to Anquan Boldin.
Instead of a big gain, the ball fell into the hands of Green Bay corner Sam Shields for his fifth pick in two games.
The struggling quarterback looked to atone for his mistake by finding a sprinting Torrey Smith down the sideline for a 47-yard pickup, but a pair of aerial miscues, followed by yet another sack on fourth down, turned over the ball to end the scoring threat in disappointment.
The Packers and their running backs would run out the clock to put an end to yet another disappointing display from the 49ers, who amassed just 188-total yards on offense to negate a solid defensive showing.
The 49ers will attempt to snap a three-game skid as they travel to New York for a match against the Giants next Sunday.