A battle of NFC behemoths — Green Bay and San Francisco — wasn’t much of a fight at all.
The 49ers embarrassed the Packers on a national stage Sunday night, 37-8, using a smothering defense to thoroughly dominate a team that had not turned over the football in a month.
That four-game streak came to an abrupt end for Green Bay with a strip sack five plays into the game, when San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner knocked the ball loose from quarterback Aaron Rodgers deep in Packers territory. The 49ers recovered at the two-yard line, scored on the next play and had Levi’s Stadium rocking.
That set the tone in a showdown in which the Packers gained just 60 yards in the first half at an anemic average of 1.8 yards per play. Rodgers averaged 2.1 yards per pass in the opening two quarters, which NBC said was his lowest output in a first half ever.
“They just shut down a Hall of Famer, one of the best to ever play the game,” 49ers offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey said of his team’s defense. “That’s pretty cool.“
The 49ers improved to 10-1, tying them with New England for the NFL’s best record, but don’t have much breathing room in the NFC West, as Seattle is 9-2 after winning at Philadelphia earlier in the day. The 49ers’ only loss came in overtime against the Seahawks two weeks ago. The teams meet in a regular-season finale at Seattle.
San Francisco’s prime-time performance Sunday further cemented the 49ers as the team to beat in the NFC, a remarkable turnaround for a franchise that went 4-12 last season and hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2013.
Jimmy Garoppolo completed 14 of 20 passes for 253 yards, with touchdowns of 42 yards to wide receiver Deebo Samuel and 61 to tight end George Kittle. Garoppolo finished with a passer rating of 145.8, upstaging Rodgers (75.8), the two-time league MVP who was sacked five times.
It was a wildly disappointing night for the Packers, who were coming off a bye and had a chance to edge ahead of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North. Those two clubs are tied atop the division at 8-3, although the Packers have the tiebreaker by virtue of a win over Minnesota in Week 2.
“There wasn’t a whole lot positive tonight,” Rodgers said. “A lot of stuff we talked about during the week, eliminating negative-yardage plays, obviously we didn’t do that. They got after us up front, and the coverage was good on the back end.”
The West Coast has been rough on the Packers, who three weeks ago lost at the Chargers 26-11. In the first half of that upset, Green Bay had 50 yards and was shut out.