The San Francisco 49ers keep the ball rolling, after a dominating, 37-8, victory over the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers pulled two games ahead of Green Bay in the NFC standings following the win. San Francisco is now 10-1 for the first time since 1997. Here are 10 takeaways from the Sunday Night Football matchup.
1. Green Bay's opening series couldn’t have ended any better for the 49ers. On 3rd-and-10 on a blitz, Fred Warner got to Aaron Rodgers, forcing the ball out of the quarterback’s arms. Rookie Nick Bosa was there to pick up the fumble and returned it to the 2-yard line. Rodgers’ fumble was Green Bay’s first turnover in 39 drives. San Francisco cashed in a play later on a 2-yard carry by Tevin Coleman, his seventh touchdown of the season.
Warner was a key contributor to the 49ers success on defense. In addition to the sack and forced fumble, the second-year linebacker led the team with 11-total tackles and made several key run stops.
"You can see the growth in Fred coming into this year," DeForest Buckner said of Warner postgame. "He's forcing fumbles left and right, its not a secret, you can see the effort he's put in to really attacking the ball. Even in the offseason, even in OTAs he was popping footballs out left and right. It's great to see the growth in him and the leader that's coming out of him. Really honing in and getting guys together in the huddle and really just being that voice on the field."
2. San Francisco's second touchdown of the game came by the way of Deebo Samuel just before the half. A 15-yard carry by Raheem Mostert set the 49ers up midfield. Jimmy Garoppolo found his rookie wideout on a slant for 42 yards to the house. Samuel finished the game with two receptions for 50 yards and a score.
3. San Francisco’s defense held Green Bay scoreless in the first half. D.J. Jones registered two big run stops in the first quarter after missing two games with a groin injury. Jimmie Ward also made several crucial pass breakups including two on 3rd-and-long situations. Early in the second quarter on 4th-and-1, San Francisco’s defense, led by Buckner in the middle, denied an Aaron Jones carry, forcing a turnover on downs.
4. Green Bay's first points of the game came late in the third quarter. Several penalty calls on San Francisco moved Green Bay into 49ers territory. Rodgers connected with Davante Adams for a 6-yard touchdown. He connected with the receiver again on a two-point conversion.
5. George Kittle made his return after missing two games with a knee and ankle injury. It was reported that the tight end was recovering from a broken bone in his ankle. The tight end looked A-OK by responding with a 61-yard touchdown to extend San Francisco's lead, his fourth score of the season. The two-play touchdown drive also featured a 14-yard pickup by Kendrick Bourne. Garoppolo's pass to Kittle tied for a career-long with his 61-yarder to Garrett Celek against the Houston Texans in Week 14 of 2017.
Kittle finished the game catching all six of his targets for a season-high 129 yards and a touchdown.
"He means a ton," head coach Kyle Shanahan said postgame. "It was hard without him. And then having him back tonight, obviously what he does in the pass game but what he does in the run game is equally as important."
6. Mostert notched San Francisco's third touchdown of the game. Garoppolo orchestrated a 10-play, 69-yard drive in the fourth quarter highlighted by Coleman, Mostert and Bourne. On 1st-and-10 on Green Bay's 15, Mostert took the handoff for his third touchdown of the season.
7. San Francisco's defense held Rodgers to 20-of-33 for 104 yards and one touchdown for a passer rating of 75.8. Green Bay's quarterback averaged just 3.4 yards per attempt, the worst in his 15-year NFL career. The Packers went 0-10 on third and fourth down in the first half on Sunday - the most attempts without a conversion by any team in an opening half in the last 20 seasons, according to NFL Research. Green Bay converted on just 1-of-15 third down conversions on the night.
Rodgers did not complete a pass over 10-plus air yards (0-for-8) for the first time in a game he finished in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016). San Francisco has allowed only four deep completions (20-plus air yards) all season, fewest in the NFL.
Rodgers was replaced by rookie quarterback Tim Boyle as the game continued to slip away from the Packers.
8. The 49ers managed to sack Rodgers five times on the night. Buckner and Jaquiski Tartt split a sack. Warner and Nick Bosa also brought down Rodgers. Arik Armstead led the team with two sacks on night, and became the first 49ers defender to record double-digit sacks this season with 10. Armstead also added five tackles on the day.
“Arik has been great since we got here," Shanahan said. "Going against Arik in training camp and OTAs, even from our first year, he’s a guy who I hated going against him as an offensive coach. He’s very hard to block in the run and pass game. I thought he did some real good things for us the first two years. I think he’s had some unfortunate injuries. I think this year he’s been able to stay healthy, play in every game and I think just the way we’ve changed up our D-Line. Our style of play, it’s benefitted all of them, but probably him the most, just in terms of never having to kind of read and react. Just being aggressive every play, going right at the quarterback, reacting to run. With his length and size, just allowing him to be a little bit more decisive and the rest has been him. He’s had no hesitation and he’s stayed healthy.”
9. Garoppolo finished the night completing 14-of-20 passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns and a 145.8 quarterback rating, a career-high as a starter.
“I thought Jimmy was great," Shanahan said. "I thought we did very well in the run and the pass game. The opportunities that he had in the pass game, from what I can think back to, seemed pretty flawless. I think he protected the ball, weren’t close to any picks. I thought he protected the ball when they did get there in pass rush and made some big plays when he had too.”