If you saw this game unfolding you haven’t been watching the 49ers much this year. In what many thought would be a “boring” Monday Night Football game, the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers brought what may be one of the more entertaining games of the year. Yeah I said it. While the 49ers lost 33-30, it still provided a night of entertainment, which is a step up from what we’ve been subjected to.
The game was almost a reset of last week with a brilliant opening drive on offense and Matt Breida punching in a touchdown. Once Aaron Rodgers got the ball though, the same thing as last week happened with one difference: it took the Packers four plays to score instead of one.
You might expect it all went downhill from there. And you’d be wrong.
The 49ers got the ball back and D.J. Reed fumbled the ball. How the 49ers held the Packers to three points on the following series with that defense, I don’t know. When the Packers scored a touchdown a series later, it looked all over.
Then C.J. Beathard threw a deep ball to Marquise Goodwin for an absolutely sick touchdown and we have a ball game. And I’m still talking about the first quarter.
The 49ers not only managed to score and stay in the game, but C.J. Beathard managed to hang in there with the league’s best in Aaron Rodgers. He would slime through blitzes, throw dimes to Marquise Goodwin (who finished the night with two touchdowns and 126 yards).
I haven’t even gotten to the running backs. Matt Breida got his, but so did Raheem Mostert who showed up in a huge way and gained crucial first downs. Mostert finished the night with 88 yards.
The 49ers stops were less on good defense and more on bad offense from the Packers. Rodgers got slapped with an intentional grounding call (one so cut and dry that any other quarterback would get a flag without the refs meeting for a discussion). At least, that was how it started. For a long stretch between the second and fourth quarters, the defense was able to generate pressure and stops against Aaron Rodgers. But then with 2:00, the 49ers defense picked a bad time to remember they are the 49ers defense, allowing Aaron Rodgers a chance to tie things up.
And then C.J. Beathard followed with an awful, awful time to remember he’s C.J. Beathard, throwing a pick. From there the Packers were gifted an illegal contact after a DeForest Buckner sack thanks to the secondary and right after Rodgers took off for a long run.
The Packers eventually trotted downfield and kicked a last second field goal. To end the game 33-30.
The 49ers defense continues to be an issue. While they managed to not completely fall apart this time (even had some sacks tonight) they still fell apart at the most crucial of moments. They cannot generate takeaways, they bite on obnoxious plays where a pee-wee player would know better, and the ridiculous amount of zone calls are just that: ridiculous. Many would guess this is a talent problem, but this begins to extend beyond that. Robert Saleh is simply not putting his players in positions to make plays. Too many times they were in the wrong position on the field or flying in the wrong area. We can point the finger at the player so many times, but when numerous players make the same dumb mistakes, it begins to extend beyond talent. The few times they made plays would be on errors with the Packers, be it intentional grounding, illegal motions, or whatever.
Beyond the 49ers defensive problems, which are nothing short of maddening, the turnovers continue to kill this team. They are currently ranked worst in turnovers and Robert Saleh’s defense cannot gain any takeaways (and this isn’t counting that garbage forward progress, non-fumble). This is not a talent problem, this is a coaching problem. While we want to point the finger at Kyle Shanahan, the offense is snake bit by injuries and still continues to function, even if it’s a shadow of itself. This is a defensive coaching problem and patience for Robert Saleh has to be wearing thin. The 49ers under Vic Fangio were blown up with injuries in 2014, but still managed to not to turn in performances like this. The defense hasn’t gotten better, it’s continued to get worse.
20+ point games happen quite often, but when they are the norm, you’re not going to win in the National Football League, period.
The game also had some questionable officiating. Early on Aaron Rodgers had an obvious grounding call that the refs had to discuss (any other quarterback not named Tom Brady or Drew Brees would net an easy flag). Later on there were two more passes that should have gained a flag but since it’s Aaron Rodgers he can do whatever the hell he wants. On the flipside, on a 4th down play by the Packers, K’Waun Williams had an obvious pass interference call (he didn’t turn around to look for the ball) but the refs let them play, so it worked out. Well unless you want to argue holding on the long Rodgers scramble that pretty much sealed things.
Running back Matt Breida left the game briefly for what may have been a twisted ankle, but he returned to the game rather quickly. Safety Adrian Colbert also was taken off and is being evaluated for a head injury (not known if it’s a concussion).
Up Next: Los Angeles Rams
It doesn’t get any easier. If you thought the Packers game was bad, the undefeated Rams come to Santa Clara next week and unlike the Packers—they aren’t rebuilding. So don’t plan on any pleasant surprises or a game this good. The game is at Levi’s Stadium, but I can’t imagine that line looking too pretty, and that roster is light years better than the 49ers or Packers.