The San Francisco 49ers earned their 10th win of the season on Sunday in convincing fashion, obliterating the Green Bay Packers 37-8 on prime-time. It was an impressive start to a historically difficult three-game stretch with the Baltimore Ravens and the New Orleans Saints awaiting the 49ers on the road over the next two weeks.
Here are our takeaways from San Francisco’s statement win over the Packers:
Are you not entertained?
It should’ve been impossible not to be captivated by the 49ers’ performance on Sunday. Robert Saleh’s defense stifled the Packers offense to just eight points while coach Kyle Shanahan’s side of the ball cruised to a cool four touchdowns against a respectable Green Bay defense. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo made it look easy, completing 14 of his 20 passes (70%) for 253 yards, two touchdowns, no turnovers, and a nearly-perfect 145.8 quarterback rating. It was as perfect of a performance as you can expect from the 49ers going up against the NFC’s No. 2 seed.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had his worst game in 12-years as a starting quarterback on Sunday, thanks in large part to the overwhelming performance by the 49ers’ defensive front. The group totaled five sacks, ten quarterback hits, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Rodgers knew he was in for a long night on the first drive when he was met in the pocket by a host of 49ers defensive lineman. Before he could hit the ground, linebacker Fred Warner forced the ball free, and Nick Bosa recovered, setting the offense up at the two-yard line. Running back Tevin Coleman scored on the next play.
Warner shines bright
Warner might’ve been the most valuable player on Sunday. He seemed to be involved in every play on defense, including the tone-setting fumble on the first drive. The 49ers’ second-year linebacker totaled ten tackles, nine stops, three total pressures, two hurries, one sack, a forced fumble, and an elite Pro Football Focus grade of 92.9. The 49ers have long been home to elite linebackers. Warner seems right at home.
The people’s tight end returns
George Kittle returned to the 49ers offense after a two-week absence caused by knee and ankle injuries. The impact was immediate. Every facet of Shanahan’s offense improved with Kittle in the lineup. His elite mix of run blocking and pass-catching helped the 49ers return to balance compared to their pass-heavy approach the last three weeks against the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. Kittle immediately returned as Garoppolo’s favorite target, catching six passes on six targets for 129 yards and an impressive 62-yard touchdown.
Injuries still mounting
Against the Seahawks in Week 10, defensive lineman Ronald Blair tore his ACL while sacking quarterback Russell Wilson. The 49ers signed offseason standout Damontre Moore that week, who then proceeded to author the game-sealing fumble against the Cardinals just days later. The backup defensive end’s success was short-lived, though. Moore suffered a broken forearm against the Packers that requires season-ending surgery. The 49ers are expected to promote Jeremiah Valoaga from the practice squad in replacement. In addition to Moore, defensive lineman Jullian Taylor suffered a jaw bruise that is still being evaluated. The 49ers’ depth at defensive line could become an issue if injuries continue to impact the group.