NFL: 5 takeaways from the Green Bay Packers' Week 9 win over the San Francisco 49ers
Four days after the Green Bay Packers were shocked by the Minnesota Vikings at home, Aaron Rodgers' squad dominated an injury-plagued San Francisco 49ers to open the NFL's Week 9 schedule.
The Packers' 34-17 victory on "Thursday Night Football" pulled them to 6-2 on the season to stay atop the NFC North, while the 49ers' loss dropped them to 4-5 as they fall farther away from contention in the tough NFC West.
5. The San Francisco 49ers are overwhelmed by injuries
From Jimmy Garoppolo to George Kittle, Richard Sherman to Nick Bosa, Raheem Mostert and beyond, the 49ers have almost $80 million in injured players' contracts currently on the injured reserve. FOX reporter Kristina Pink said Niners coach Kyle Shanahan joked before the Thursday night contest that even he might have to play.
Even with some backups starring (like wide receiver Richie James), the 49ers looked out of sync; passes were thrown behind targets and Green Bay Packers' receivers regularly found open field against San Francisco's defense. The 49ers were undermanned, and they were overmatched.
4. Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones shows no rust
On the first snap of the game, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers received the ball in the shotgun and dumped it off to running back Aaron Jones, who leaked out of the pocket and picked up a few yards. The Packers went back to Jones on the second play of the game. Again on the third, and the fourth.
Though Jones was questionable with a calf injury heading into the game, he showed no ill affects for the Green Bay Packers.
The 2019 NFL touchdown leader finished with 15 carries for 58 yards, five receptions, and was a constant safety blanket for Rodgers.
3. San Francisco 49ers QB Nick Mullens falters
Nick Mullens took his first snap of the game and play-action faked to his running back before peeling out to find Richie James in the flats. It was what the 49ers needed him to do: make the simple plays and move down field.
But as the night wore on and as the Packers lead grew, the 49ers needed their backup QB to do more.
When the Green Bay Packers pressured him, Mullens struggled to lengthen plays or make contested throws, and even with a clean pocket he put the ball in danger. Mullens tossed up a duck in the second quarter that was intercepted, threw a near-pick minutes later, and added a fumble in the third quarter.
Mullens wasn't aided by several key drops and received pressure all evening, but if the 49ers are going to win games with Jimmy G injured, Mullens must be better or C.J. Beathard will sub in.
2. The Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams connection stays hot
After a review, it was confirmed. Davante Adams caught Aaron Rodgers’ third pass of the game — a 36-yard bomb to the end zone pylon. He stumbled, turned, and stayed in bounds for the first six points of the game. Green Bay Packers management received criticism for not adding more wide receiver weapons at the 2020 trade deadline, but Adams proved he could do it by himself.
Finishing with 10 completions for 173 yards and a touchdown, the Rodgers-Adams connection featured heavily into the Green Bay Packers' game plan on every down, and the 49ers couldn’t stop it.
Rodgers continues to make his case for the MVP and Adams continues to make his case as the best receiver in the league.
1. San Francisco misses its run game
On top of injuries across their depth chart, the 49ers had to turn to their third and fourth-string running backs on Thursday against the Green Bay Packers.
In the last matchup between the two NFC squads — the NFC Championship game in early-2020 — San Francisco ran wild. Largely unknown (at the time) Raheem Mostert finished with 220 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
On Thursday night, the JaMycal Hasty/Jerick McKinnon tandem didn’t have the same success against the Green Bay Packers. McKinnon led the way with 52 rushing yards, and the 49ers totaled just 55. While Shanahan has been lauded for his creative plug-and-play systems, it was clear Thursday night their starters were missed.