Santa Clara – If the season couldn’t get any worse for the 49ers, it did tonight. The NFL kept to their schedule despite positive Covid-19 tests on both San Francisco and the Green Bay Packers. As a result the 49ers placed three players on the Covid-19/Injured list and it showed in their 34-17 loss to the Packers.
Without T Trent Williams, WR Kendrick Bourne, WR Brandon Aiyuk, and WR Deebo Samuel San Francisco struggled on both sides of the ball. Richie James filled some big shoes tonight and he didn’t disappoint. He finished the game with 9 receptions for 184 yards and one touchdown. That’s the most yards by a WR since Anquan Boldin (208) vs Green Bay on 9/18/03.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “We knew at the start of the week it was going to be a challenge and then losing those three guys yesterday was obviously a bigger challenge, but I still thought we could have a game and still thought we could play better than we did tonight. Being down like that and not being at our best and going against a good team like that, I know we could have done better.”
Aaron Rogers and his offense took advantage just as a good team would. Rogers went 25-for-31 for 305 yards for four touchdowns. He went deep on opening drive, connecting with Davante Adams for a 46-yard touchdown. Adams made a spectacular catch while landing on one hand and an elbow in the end zone before falling out of bounds for an early 7-0 lead.
“Aaron and Davante, they’re the same as they always are to me,” Shanahan said. “They’re two great players and they’ve both been doing it for a very long time. I knew going into the game that would be a huge challenge. Thought we missed a couple of tackles on the opening drive and then they got that go route. I thought [CB Emmanuel] Moseley was in a perfect position, just a little nudge there that I don’t expect to get called and Devante made a hell of a play and Aaron made a great throw.”
“The coverage presented itself,” said Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. “When you have two great players like [QB] Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams in the line, it affords you the time to hang in a pocket and throw some deep. Those were some dime balls that Aaron was throwing to Davante, but also you can look back at that fourth down when the defender was draped all over Davante and he made unbelievable will catch. I was a little surprised that it wasn’t holding on that play, but it was awesome to see Davante battle through that and make a play.”
The night didn’t go that smoothly for the 49ers. Nick Mullens went deep to James for a 43-yard pass, that led to Mullens finding River Cracraft in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 but Cracraft didn’t have full control of the ball as he fell out of bounds. The play was reviewed and reversed as an incomplete pass.
Robbie Gould kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it a 7-3 game to end the first quarter. By the second things got worse for San Francisco, James got hit with a holding call and moved the offense back ten yards. Mullens pass intended for Jerick McKinnon was intercepted by Raven Greene who ran it back for 17 yards.
A pass interference call by Jason Verrett pushed Green Bay to the goal line. Rogers 1-yard pass to Marcedes Lewis extended their lead 14-3. With 1:53 minutes left on the clock, Rogers went deep to Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 52-yard touchdown before the half giving them a 21-3 lead. Valdes-Scantling recored his second 1-yard touchdown to start the third quarter.
“I think we did what we needed to do,” La Fleur said. “I know they were short numbers, but again it’s the National Football League and you can’t take anybody for granted. I still think they got a hell of a team despite missing some big-time players. That’s one of the better defenses we’ve played despite missing some of those guys. They’ve got an outstanding team and I know they’ve been hit with an unfortunate number of injuries, but I do think that it speaks to the level of how good that football team is.”
Mason Crosby kicked two field goals for 19 and 53 yards in the third and fourth quarter. The 49ers didn’t give up, Mullens’ 41-yard touchdown pass to James. Then McKinnon’s 1-yard touchdown in the fourth was the final attempt by San Francisco before time ran out. It’s always next man up for the 49ers but the mood has turned dark with all of these injuries and the latest positive Covid-19 tests. The good news for the 49ers is they have the next 3 days off which is greatly needed.
“I know KB had that test and we had the close contacts and stuff and that’s what the rules are,” explained Shanahan. “I knew at some time we would have to deal with it. I was hoping it wouldn’t be on a short week and with the injuries we had prior, so that just made it a bigger challenge, but that’s challenges other people are going through and it’s challenges people are going to have going forward.
It’s not getting better right now, so that’s why everyone has to be on it with every single protocol that there is. I feel that we’ve been doing it the best we can, but we’ll look into everything and see how we can continue to get better because there’s still a number of games left in this year and I know our team and I know the whole NFL plans on finishing those. I also plan on us playing better too. So, that all goes in hand.”
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