In a battle of the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the NFC, under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, it was the 49ers who came away victorious. San Francisco dominated the game right from the jump, forcing a turnover on Green Bay's opening possession, quickly turning it into a score, and never relinquishing the lead throughout the evening.
The 49ers looked like they were a different class of team than the Packers. Their defense made it nearly impossible for the Packers to move the ball. Robert Saleh's unit limited one of the best quarterbacks of all time to one of his worst games ever. Their offense hit took advantage of short fields early on, hit big plays later, and ground out the clock in the final moments. Kyle Shanahan's offense repeatedly created wide throwing lanes for their own quarterback, who took capitalized of those opportunities.
Week 12 is almost in the books and there's a lot to go over. Fortunately Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break everything down on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe right here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
The Niners jumped out to a 23-0 lead before the Packers even got on the board, and even then they needed a very long drive, a questionable personal foul penalty, and a jet sweep flip to manage what ended up being their only score of the evening. That touchdown and the subsequent two-point conversion -- both from Davante Adams -- trimmed the lead to 15 points. Not even a minute later, the lead was back to 22 points after Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle deep down field on one of the prettiest play designs you'll ever see.
And that's just about how it went, all night long, on both sides of the ball. The Niners tacked on a late touchdown to make it 37-8, and that's how it ended. It was a thorough beatdown from the home team, which pushed its record to 10-1 and maintained its hold on the NFC's top seed.
Why the 49ers won
They played absolutely suffocating defense all night long, and the offense took advantage of turnovers to stake the team to a lead, and then ended up catching a rhythm later on.
The 49ers' defensive front dominated the entire night. DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, and D.J. Jones were living in the backfield all night long. That group combined for four sacks and four tackles for loss, as well as seven additional hits on Aaron Rodgers. Their dominance freed up Fred Warner, Jimmie Ward, and Jaquiski Tartt to fly all over the field making plays. And the coverage on the back end from Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, and K'Waun Williams was note perfect.
Tevin Coleman did not have an explosive night on the ground but he got into the end zone early on. Raheem Mostert ran well. Jeff Wilson broke a big play. Deebo Samuel continued his late-rookie-year breakout. George Kittle -- two weeks removed from apparently have some broken bones in his ankle -- was a monster. Emmanuel Sanders had one of the best first-down dances you'll ever see. Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient throughout, and hit his man in stride for two big plays that ended up being the only scores his team really needed.
Why the Packers lost
They were demolished up front on both sides of the ball, and their offense could not figure out a way to get going on any level. Garoppolo was sacked three times on 23 drop backs but was otherwise unhurried for most of the night. And the 49ers rushed the ball 22 times for 112 yards and two scores during the competitive portion of the game (i.e., before Rodgers was pulled with about five minutes left).
San Francisco limited Rodgers to just 2.1 yards per attempt in the first half -- the worst mark in his career when throwing at least 10 passes. By the time the 49ers pushed their lead to 29 points late in the fourth quarter, Rodgers was averaging 3.2 yards per attempt and had been sacked five times. He finished 20 of 33 for 104 yards and a score. Gross. Adams got in the end zone (on a jet flip pass), but couldn't manage to shake free for anything other than short passes. Aaron Jones found no rushing room all evening, and his involvement in the passing game was minimal. This was a unit that was completely shut down.
It's got to be the fifth play of the game. The Packers jumped out quickly by taking just two plays to get a first down on their opening drive, but after a penalty from Davante Adams pushed them backwards, they ended up facing third-and-10 from their own 25-yard line.
That's when DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Fred Warner all converged on Rodgers in the backfield. Rodgers tried to maneuver his way out of trouble, but instead found himself in even more of it. That trio combined to knock the ball out of Rodgers' hands, and Nick Bosa found his way around the scrum to go pick it up.
On the next play, Tevin Coleman found his way into the end zone and the Niners took a 7-0 lead. They extended that to 23-0 before the Packers ever got on the board, and even then the lead was only trimmed to two touchdowns for 57 seconds before the 49ers pushed it back to three.
Plays of the game
We've got two long 49ers touchdowns to choose from here. Since it's tough to choose between the incendiary speed of Deebo Samuel and the combination of Kyle Shanahan's spectacular play design and George Kittle's picture perfect route-running, we're going to show you both.
Here's Samuel catching a crosser over the middle of the field and then hitting the jets to speed away from several Green Bay defenders on his way to a 41-yard score. Both Tramon Williams and Blake Martinez get within about a yard of him, and then in a flash, he's just gone.
After the Packers scored on a jet flip to Davante Adams midway through the third quarter, it took the 49ers only two plays to answer. That's because the second play saw them line up in a three tight end set, fake a stretch to the right, have Garoppolo roll out to his left as though he were hitting one of the Niners' classic leak concepts, then have Kittle snap off his route and hit the post back to the right side of the field. It was absolutely gorgeous, and it resulted in a 61-yard score.
That pushed San Francisco's lead back to 22 points, which was considerably more than the defense needed.
The 49ers push their record to 10-1 with this win, and thus maintain their hold on first place in both the NFC West and the NFC overall. They are one game ahead of both the Saints and Seahawks, who each sit at 9-2. The Niners have an afternoon road date with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens next week, in what should be one of the best and most tactically interesting games of the season.
The Packers saw their record drop to 8-3 with this loss, and they are now atop the NFC North only by virtue of holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings, whom they beat back in Week 2. Aaron Rodgers and company travel to New Jersey to take on the free-falling Giants next week.