There weren't five touchdowns for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers this week. Luckily, his one was more than enough against a spiraling San Francisco 49ers team.
Rodgers threw for 224 yards, and the Green Bay defense held the 49ers offense out of the end zone as the Packers moved to 4-0 with a 17-3 win at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Largely held in check throughout, Rodgers was able to snap his four-game losing streak against San Francisco by avoiding mistakes. He ran his interception-less streak to four games, completing 22 of 32 passes and hitting Richard Rodgers for a first-quarter score.
The reigning MVP has 11 touchdowns without a pick so far in 2015 and is arguably the quarter-season favorite to be the first repeat winner since Peyton Manning in 2008 and 2009.
"I don't know how much better he can play, frankly. But you never know with Aaron," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said prior to Sunday's game, per Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News. "He's very motivated, very detailed in his preparation in trying to improve. He's playing at an extremely high level."
James Jones continued his triumphant return to Green Bay with a team-high 98 yards on five receptions. Jones was one of three Packers (Rodgers, Randall Cobb) tied with five grabs. The Packers were playing without second-year wideout Davante Adams, leaving them without two of their three projected top receivers (Jordy Nelson) from the preseason.
Will Brinson of CBS Sports highlighted the fact the New York Giants made a not-so-great decision regarding Jones:
Eddie Lacy, seemingly back to full health, set a season high with 90 yards. Lacy had 18 carries compared to nine for James Starks, flipping the script on the last two weeks where Starks got a majority of the work. Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus noted what Lacy brings to the table:
On the other side of the field, the 49ers offense continues to be a mess. Colin Kaepernick was sacked six times and threw an interception as San Francisco amounted to only 196 yards of total offense. Kaepernick has now failed to record a touchdown pass in three of four games this season, and the 49ers have scored a grand total of 48 points through four games.
"That’s not really something I’m concerned with," Kaepernick told the Associated Press' Janie McCauley this week of calls for him to lose his job (via CBS Sacramento). "I have confidence in myself as far as being able to go out and help this team win. What other people think of how I play and how I go about things really isn’t something I worry about.”
HBO's Bill Simmons wondered how Kaepernick has fallen this far:
Kaepernick's struggles haven't done much to help the running game, which was stagnant outside of his scrambling. Kaepernick led the 49ers with 57 yards on 10 carries, while Carlos Hyde managed only 20 on his eight carries. A returning Reggie Bush was held completely in check, failing to gain a yard on his lone carry and catching one pass for six yards.
The 49ers—having dispatched of Jim Harbaugh this offseason in favor of head coach Jim Tomsula in search of a more workable organizational relationship—appear to be in complete disarray. They're two full games behind the Arizona Cardinals for first place in the NFC West and are trending downward. After a strong Week 1 win over the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco has been outscored by at least two touchdowns in each of its last three games.
The Packers, meanwhile, continue winning in a variety of ways. They've been in shootouts, nail-biters and blowouts, coming out on top in each. They're two games ahead of Minnesota in the NFC North and are a lock for the playoffs barring a major injury to Rodgers. Once Lacy gets back to full health, there may be no stopping Green Bay from emerging as a favorite to win the NFC.
I think we’re 4-0, we’re first in the division, and we’re playing the kind of ball we want to play in most of the phases. The defense – when they play like that, we’re going to be tough to beat.
Offensively, we’ve kind of carried it, at times, the first two weeks, but the defense, especially the last two weeks, the pressure on the passer – we’re not getting a ton of turnovers, but when the offense is not turning it over – that all makes us pretty tough to beat.
He also offered praise of James Jones:
I didn't see the catch. All I heard in my helmet was that we needed to get up to the line. So I was yelling and screaming that we need to run a play ... to force them to challenge it, if it was close – and then I heard, right as I got up to center, "He caught it, he caught it." ... I had to back off and get us in a different play.
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