Monday, November 25, 2019

Green Bay Comes Up Short in San Francisco

By Eric Goska
Image from NFL Game Pass
Aaron Rodgers’ numbers say it all: San Francisco’s defense was the greatest Green Bay has faced in nearly 100 years of professional football.

An overstatement? Yes, but the 49ers did handcuff Rodgers unlike any previous quarterback in Packers history.

San Francisco blunted Green Bay at nearly every turn in a primetime matchup at Levi's Stadium. The result was a resounding 37-8 drubbing that left the 49ers (10-1) alone atop the NFC and the Packers (8-3) licking their wounds.

How good were the 49ers? They sacked Rodgers five times. They allowed the Packers to run just four plays from beyond the 50 in the first half.

San Francisco permitted Green Bay to convert just one of 15 third downs. It surrendered a meager 24 yards on that down with half of that coming on the second-to-last play of the game.

After Green Bay beat Chicago 10-3 in the opener, Rodgers declared: “We have a defense.” Perhaps, but the unit he referred to is a far cry from what he encountered Sunday night.

The Packers have a defense that is willing. San Francisco has one that is able.

Rodgers completed 20 passes against the 49ers. The yardage he gained on his first 10 and first 20 completions illustrate how ineffective the Packers were when throwing the ball.

A completion to Davante Adams for 10 yards on Green Bay’s second play was Rodgers’ long of the opening two quarters. None of his other first-half connections (nine) went for more than seven yards.

Seven of Rodgers’ 20 first-half attempts were aimed at targets behind the line of scrimmage. Six of those resulted in completions for a combined gain of 20 yards.

Five of his passes traveled more than 15 yards downfield. All five were ruled incomplete.

That included a 30-plus yard heave to Jimmy Graham on third down. The big tight had the ball but lost it when he hit the turf.

“That looks like a catch to me,” Terry McAulay, NBC’s rules expert, said after the Packers had punted and the 49ers had run a play. “He (Graham) gets control and takes two steps and then takes a third step which is a football move. And once that third step comes down, that’s a catch.”

Alas, it was not to be. What could have been a 38-yard completion remained just that: a could-have-been.

Rodgers’ stat line at the break was 10 of 20 for 41 yards. You read that correctly: 10 completions; 41 yards.

Until Sunday, only two quarterbacks in team history had gained fewer than 50 yards on their first 10 completions in a game. Don Majkowski had 49 in a 23-20 loss to the Dolphins in 1989, and Brett Hundley had 49 in a 16-0 setback against the Vikings in 2017.

Rodgers’ previous low occurred in Denver in 2015. He completed 10 of his first 16 passes for 50 yards as the Broncos romped 29-10.

Rodgers had a better showing in the second half in San Francisco. He completed 10 of 13 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Five of his second-half tosses brought first downs. Two – one to Jamaal Williams (15) and one to Adams (14) – resulted in gains of more than 10 yards.

Even so, Rodgers’ final accounting was unimpressive. He completed 20 of 33 passes for 104 yards.

Backup Tim Boyle directed Green Bay’s final drive with four minutes, 58 seconds remaining.

Until Sunday, only one quarterback in team annals had gained fewer than 140 yards on his first 20 completions of a game. Brett Favre opened 20-of-30 for 136 yards as Detroit rolled 17-3 in the 2005 opener.

Last season, Rodgers came close to that number. He gained 141 yards on his first 20 completions in a 20-17 loss to Arizona in December.

Now the record belongs to Rodgers. And the 104 yards could have been far fewer.

The 49ers stats crew lists yards gained by a player after each catch. Rodgers was fortunate that his receivers often moved downfield after getting the ball.

Had they not, his 20 completions could have resulted in negative yardage.

According to the official play-by-play, the Packers generated 47 yards after the catch in the first half and 62 in the second. That’s 109 yards.

Had the 49ers stopped every receiver in his tracks after every catch, Rodgers’ 20 completions would have produced minus-5 yards. Had San Francisco done that, it truly would have been the greatest defense the Packers ever faced.

Extra Point
Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more often (439 times) than any other quarterback in Packers history. He moved ahead of Brett Favre (438) after he was dumped by safety Jaquiski Tartt and defensive lineman Arik Armstead on fourth down early in the fourth quarter.

Short Circuiting
Fewest yards produced by Packers quarterbacks on their first 10 and first 20 completions of a regular-season game.

First 10
Yards    Quarterback           Date                      Opponent         Result
    41       Aaron Rodgers          Nov. 24, 2019       49ers                GB lost, 8-37
    49       Don Majkowski        Oct. 22, 1989        Dolphins           GB lost, 20-23
    49       Brett Hundley            Dec. 23, 2017        Vikings             GB lost, 0-16
    50       Jack Jacobs               Nov. 14, 1948       Bears               GB lost, 6-7
    50       Aaron Rodgers          Nov. 1, 2015         Broncos           GB lost, 10-29
    51       Aaron Rodgers          Sept. 4, 2014         Seahawks         GB lost, 16-36
    52       Brett Favre                Nov. 14, 1993       Saints               GB won, 19-17

First 20
Yards    Quarterback           Date                      Opponent         Result
   104      Aaron Rodgers          Nov. 24, 2019       49ers                GB lost, 8-37
   136      Brett Favre                Sept. 11, 2005       Lions                GB lost, 3-17
   141      Aaron Rodgers          Dec. 2, 2018          Cardinals          GB lost, 17-20
   144      Brett Favre                Nov. 28, 1993       Buccaneers       GB won, 13-10
   146      Brett Favre                Nov. 24, 1996       Rams                GB won, 24-9
   147      Aaron Rodgers          Nov. 15, 2009       Cowboys         GB won, 17-7
   149      Bart Starr                  Nov. 27, 1966       Vikings             GB won, 28-16
   149      Don Majkowski        Sept. 6, 1992         Vikings             GB lost, 20-23

1 comment:

  1. That 66 Packer/Cowboys game was a defensive classic...Meredith was ineffective as well.