Aaron Rodgers did it again.
It looked as if the San Francisco 49ers were going to complete a dramatic comeback victory, but he marched the Green Bay Packers right into field-goal range in the final seconds without a timeout. Mason Crosby put the finishing touches on the possession with a 51-yard field goal to secure the 30-28 win at Levi's Stadium.
Rodgers' brilliance moved the Packers to 2-1 and atop the NFC North in the season's early going.
Jimmy Garoppolo did what he could, but it wasn't enough for the 49ers as they fell to 2-1.
Notable Player Stats
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB: 23-of-33 passing for 261 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs
- Davante Adams, WR, GB: 12 catches for 132 yards, 1 TD
- Aaron Jones, RB, GB: 19 carries for 82 yards, 1 TD; 2 catches for 14 yards
- Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF: 25-of-40 passing for 257 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
- George Kittle, TE, SF: 7 catches for 92 yards
Aaron Rodgers Provides Cruel Reminder of What Could Have Been
In a different timeline, Rodgers may have been the hero on the other side in this game.
After all, the 49ers famously passed on him to take Alex Smith with the No. 1 pick of the 2005 NFL draft. What's more, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported San Francisco was "Rodgers' top choice when it came to a new destination" this offseason if he and the Packers parted ways.
Unfortunately for the NFC West squad, he is still on Green Bay and was as brilliant as ever in Sunday's win.
The future Hall of Famer completed his first 12 passes, including a touchdown to Davante Adams, as he essentially played pitch-and-catch against a banged-up 49ers secondary from the start. He mixed in back-shoulder throws, fastballs through tight windows and floating deep balls, and it was 17-0 just like that.
While he watched that lead shrink to three from the sidelines as San Francisco scored on back-to-back possessions sandwiched around halftime, he reminded everyone in the stadium that you can count on one hand the number of quarterbacks in league history who can throw a better ball than him with the game on the line.
In the face of third-down pressure, he dropped a dime over an outstretched defensive back to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the back of the end zone for a momentum-crushing touchdown.
It was a sign of things to come, because he was even better on the last drive with two long passes to Adams to set up the field goal. And, as he has so many times, he stole the hope away from the hostile crowd with another incredible win.
Jimmy Garoppolo Answers Questions Even in Defeat
Whether head coach Kyle Shanahan likes it or not, the quarterback question is going to be a primary storyline for the 49ers all season after they selected Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick.
There are few better examples of what an elite quarterback can do for a team than what Rodgers did, and Garoppolo looked anything but elite when he threw an interception on a deep ball after his side fell behind by two scores. The pick was more of a credit to Jaire Alexander's greatness than anything else, but San Francisco looked well on its way to a blowout loss and quarterback mismatch.
Any calls for Lance weren't exactly quiet either when the 49ers ended the first half with five scoreless plays inside Green Bay's 5-yard line with Garoppolo under center until the rookie came in for the final play before intermission and ran it in himself with Trent Williams bulldozing a clear path.
Trey Sermon's first career NFL TD! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FTTB?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FTTB</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GBvsSF?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GBvsSF</a> on NBC<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/KgHDqDkg0d">https://t.co/KgHDqDkg0d</a> <a href="https://t.co/V9NvIXsV76">pic.twitter.com/V9NvIXsV76</a>
The first half and the crowd's cheers whenever Lance entered the game could have derailed Garoppolo's confidence, but, to his credit, he answered the call throughout the second half.
He took the momentum from Lance's touchdown and built on it by leading a 13-play drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk right out of the half. He also responded when the 49ers fell behind by double digits again by leading another touchdown drive that Trey Sermon finished with a run.
While he wasted much of the goodwill he built up with those scores with a monumental fumble down three in the fourth quarter, the defense bailed him out and held the Packers to a field goal.
Garoppolo took full advantage by going 75 yards in eight plays for his team's go-ahead touchdown with 37 seconds left. The final play was a strike to Kyle Juszczyk for a score, but, as it turns out, even 37 seconds is too much time for Rodgers.
Both teams are home in Week 4 when the Packers face the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 49ers host the rival Seattle Seahawks.