“It was just one of those games it was a little bit strange,” Rodgers told Fox after the game. “But it’s fun to come out on top.”
The 49ers were left without a single offensive player who even touched the football in the playoff matchup with the Packers in January. Their two most important offensive players, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle, are sidelined with injuries, Garoppolo with an ankle injury and Kittle with a foot fracture.
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne missed the game after reportedly testing positive for the coronavirus. Offensive tackle Trent Williams and wideouts Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel were placed on five-day quarantines after being classified as high-risk close contacts. Samuel already was to miss the game because of a hamstring injury.
The 49ers closed their facility and worked remotely Wednesday. Some wondered why the game wasn’t postponed. But the NFL has made it clear that games will be postponed for medical reasons, not for competitive considerations related to a team being at a disadvantage from contact-tracing quarantines. This is why, in the NFL’s view, teams were given greater roster flexibility this season and warned to follow protocols.
“Obviously you don’t want to lose like that to anybody,” 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said in a postgame video news conference. “It doesn’t matter who it is. We knew that they were coming in with that extra motivation because of what happened last year, and we knew we had to execute. And we didn’t do that at a high enough level today to be able to compete for the win. So we’ve got to be better.”
The 49ers got nothing going with Nick Mullens at quarterback and dropped to 4-5. They trailed, 34-3, before scoring a pair of cosmetic touchdowns in the game’s final five minutes. The one bright spot for the 49ers was wide receiver Richie James’s nine-catch, 184-yard performance. He caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Mullens.
But the 49ers appear done, left to play out the string in a season unraveled by rampant injuries. The Packers were the beneficiaries Thursday.
“It was good for us,” Rodgers said. “It was a different game. They’re obviously depleted on both sides of the ball. They’ve had probably one of the worst injury years I’ve seen in a long time. So that’s not the same football team that we saw twice last year. But it’s still got possibly the best middle linebacker in the game [Warner] and a lot of pride. And we went out and executed the way we expected to.”
Rodgers completed 25 of 31 passes for 305 yards before giving way to backup Tim Boyle.
“You could give him the game ball every game,” Packers Coach Matt LaFleur said of Rodgers. “He is an unbelievable quarterback, just pinpoint accuracy. What a great leader he is for everybody.”
Two of Rodgers’s touchdown passes went to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He also had one touchdown throw each to wideout Davante Adams and tight end Marcedes Lewis. Adams had 10 catches for 173 yards as the Packers improved to 6-2. He had a 36-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter in which he somehow managed to land in bounds.
“I like getting the ball to [No.] 17,” Rodgers said of Adams. “He’s a special player. It started with the first drive. It didn’t look like from my vantage point that he got in. But I could tell with the replay it was a good catch. I mean, he’s just so talented. He does so many things for us, an easy guy to throw the ball to.”
The Packers, too, had their coronavirus issues, as they were depleted at running back. A.J. Dillion reportedly tested positive in Sunday’s round of testing. Fellow running back Jamaal Williams and linebacker Kamal Martin were placed in five-day quarantines upon being categorized as high-risk close contacts. Starting tailback Aaron Jones did play after being listed as questionable on the injury report because of a calf injury, contributing 58 rushing yards and 21 receiving yards.
49ers finally get a touchdown
The 49ers got their cosmetic touchdown. Nick Mullens threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Richie James. (Packers 34, 49ers 10 with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter)
Another field goal for Packers
Packers kicker Mason Crosby added his second field goal of the night, this time from 53 yards. He’s made all 11 of his field goal attempts this season. (Packers 34, 49ers 3 with 6:15 left in the 4th quarter)
Packers add to their lead with field goal
Green Bay upped its lead on a 19-yard field goal by kicker Mason Crosby. There’s probably not much reason for Aaron Rodgers to remain in this game much longer. (Packers 31, 49ers 3 with 2:01 left in the 3rd quarter)
Another touchdown pass for Rodgers, another touchdown catch for Valdes-Scantling
The Packers continue to pour it on as Aaron Rodgers threw a one-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. It was the fourth touchdown pass of the night for Rodgers and the second touchdown catch for Valdes-Scantling. (Packers 28, 49ers 3 with 7:17 left in the 3rd quarter)
Aaron Rodgers, Packers dominate 49ers in first half
The Packers are dominating the shorthanded 49ers on “Thursday Night Football” in Santa Clara, Calif. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown three touchdown passes and the Packers lead, 21-3, at halftime.
Rodgers’s touchdown passes went to wide receivers Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and tight end Marcedes Lewis. Rodgers completed 13 of 18 first-half passes for 149 yards.
Niners quarterback Nick Mullens threw an interception and completed only eight of 16 passes for 87 yards. The 49ers have been ravaged by injuries and further depleted by coronavirus-related issues, and it shows. This barely qualifies as the rematch of last season’s NFC title game that it technically is. (Packers 21, 49ers 3 at halftime)
Rodgers’s third touchdown pass increases Packers’ lead
The Packers are pulling away from the undermanned Niners in Santa Clara after Aaron Rodgers threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to cap an 87-yard drive. Valdes-Scantling got wide open behind the San Francisco secondary and Rodgers delivered an on-target throw for what became a relatively easy completion. (Packers 21, 49ers 3 with 1:53 left in the 2nd quarter)
Packers get Rodgers-to-Lewis touchdown after interception
The Packers cashed in on a 49ers turnover for a one-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to tight end Marcedes Lewis. A pass interference penalty in the end zone put the ball at the 1-yard line. Green Bay had to move only 38 yards after Raven Greene’s interception of a Nick Mullens pass. (Packers 14, 49ers 3 with 7:01 left in the 2nd quarter)
Nick Mullens throws pick
Nick Mullens threw an interception to set up the Packers at the San Francisco 38-yard line. Mullens was under heavy pass-rush pressure from Green Bay’s Preston Smith. He threw a pass up for grabs and the ball went directly to Packers safety Raven Greene. It was only the third interception of the season for the Packers. (Packers 7, 49ers 3 with 11:42 left in the 2nd quarter)
49ers get field goal after touchdown overturned on replay
The 49ers are on the board with a 22-yard field goal by kicker Robbie Gould. They nearly had a touchdown on a pass from Nick Mullens to wide receiver River Cracraft. But Cracraft, after initially making the grab along the sideline in the end zone, lost the football as he tumbled to the ground. The play was called a catch and a touchdown on the field but that was reversed on the instant replay review. The incompletion left the Niners kicking the field goal. Wideout Richie James had a 43-yard catch and run on the drive on a blown coverage by the Green Bay secondary. (Packers 7, 49ers 3 with 47 seconds left in the 1st quarter)
Aaron Rodgers’s touchdown pass to Davante Adams puts Packers in front early
The Packers have the early lead in Santa Clara, Calif. Aaron Rodgers threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Davante Adams, who made a superb tumbling catch along the sideline in the end zone and was ruled in bounds. Rodgers complete all three of his passes for 56 yards on the 75-yard drive. Tailback Aaron Jones had two rushing attempts for 17 yards and two catches for 20 yards. (Packers 7, 49ers 0 with 11:42 left in the 1st quarter)
Aaron Jones is active for Packers
Tailback Aaron Jones is active for the Packers for the game. He had been listed as questionable on the team’s injury report because of a calf injury but is available to play. Jones’s participation in the game could alleviate the Packers’ shortage of running backs after this week’s coronavirus-related issues.
What to watch for during Thursday night’s Packers-49ers matchup
The rematch of last season’s NFC title game comes on “Thursday Night Football” from Santa Clara, Calif., under highly unusual circumstances for the Packers and 49ers. Both teams dealt with issues related to the coronavirus in recent days. The game received final clearance to be played when the two teams had no new positive test results Thursday morning among those scheduled to participate.
The Niners closed their facility and worked remotely Wednesday after a positive test result by a player, reportedly wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. They placed Bourne, fellow wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel and left tackle Trent Williams on their covid-19 reserve list. Samuel already was to miss the game because of a hamstring injury. Williams and Aiyuk will miss it after being classified as high-risk close contacts, subject to a mandatory five-day isolation.
That further depletes the 49ers’ lineup. The defending NFC champs have been ravaged by injuries and will be missing perhaps their two most important offensive players in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle. Both are to miss significant time, Garoppolo with an ankle injury and Kittle with a foot fracture.
Nick Mullens is to start at quarterback as the Niners, with a record of 4-4, attempt to remain relevant. The team they will put on the field Thursday night will bear little resemblance to the one that beat the Packers in January.
The Packers have lost two of their past three games after a 4-0 start to the season that had quarterback Aaron Rodgers being mentioned prominently in the league MVP conversation. Green Bay will be shorthanded at running back. A.J. Dillion reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus in Sunday’s round of testing, and fellow running back Jamaal Williams and linebacker Kamal Martin were placed in five-day quarantines upon being categorized as high-risk close contacts. Starting tailback Aaron Jones is listed as questionable on the injury report because of a calf injury.