SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 49ers offense could never get going.
The NFL's lowest scoring outfit managed just three points. Not surprisingly, it wasn't enough against one of the league's premier quarterbacks. The Packers remained undefeated through four games, handing the 49ers their third-straight loss, 17-3.
With the defeat, San Francisco has been outscored 107-28 since the start of Week 2. Their season opening win over the Vikings is a distant speck in the rear view mirror.
Colin Kaepernick threw for 160 yards on 13 of 24 completions. Most of those yards came on two plays: a 40-yard jet sweep to Quinton Patton and a 47-yarder late to Torrey Smith that amounted to nothing after turning the ball over on downs to end the drive late in the fourth quarter.
As it turned out, all the Packers needed was their opening drive to win the game.
The 49ers though they had Rodgers stopped on his first possession, when Ahmad Brooks and Quinton Dial had a sack on the game’s first third down. But linebacker Michael Wilhoite was flagged for illegal contact, giving Green Bay an automatic first down.
From there, Rodgers orchestrated a methodical 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, ending on a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers. Rodgers danced in the pocket and extended the play to his left, finding his tight end in the back of the end zone, who beat safety Antoine Bethea in coverage.
Rodgers finished with 224 yards passing on 22 of 32 completions. Eddie Lacy added 90 yards on 18 carries, as the Packers ran for 162 yards a team.
On offense, San Francisco’s red-zone issues continued. After getting as far as the Packers’ 5-yard line, consecutive sacks put Kaepernick back at the 22, leading to a 33-yard Phil Dawson field goal to make it 7-3 midway through the second quarter.
The 12-play drive was promising and was highlighted by a 40-yard jet sweep to receiver Quinton Patton.
The Packers had a chance to extend the lead just before halftime with a long drive deep in 49ers’ territory that included two fourth-down conversions. But after a Brooks sack of Rodgers, kicker Mason Crosby pulled a 44-yard field goal to left with :02 remaining sending the teams to their locker rooms with the score 7-3.
After a 49ers punt to open the third quarter, Rodgers found Jones for a spectacular 38-yard catch along the left sideline with cornerback Kenneth Acker in coverage. After Rodgers scrambled to the 1-yard line three plays later, juking safety Eric Reid and nearly scoring, fullback John Kuhn punched it in to make 14-3 midway through the third quarter. The score moved to 17-3 after Crosby hit from 31 yards later in the quarter.
San Francisco's defense did an admirable job against Rodgers and one of the league's most explosive offenses. For much of the day, Eric Mangini's unit abandoned a zone blitzing scheme that was largely ineffective over the last two weeks. Instead, opting for a man-to-man game plan relying on a four-man pass rush.
Kaepernick added 58 yards rushing on 10 attempts. Carlos Hyde finished with eight carries for 20 yards.
One of the lone bright spots for the 49ers was outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who notched two sacks, with Brooks adding another.
The 49ers (1-3) go on the road to play the New York Giants next week. The Giants improved to 2-2 with a 24-10 road win over the Buffalo Bills Sunday.
Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.
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