Aaron Rodgers, Packers Come Back to Beat 49ers on Game-Winning Mason Crosby FG

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2018

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field on October 15, 2018 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers (3-2-1) handed the San Francisco 49ers (1-5) their fourth straight defeat, picking up a 33-30 win on Monday night at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Aaron Rodgers, who continued to wear a brace on his injured left knee, finished 25-of-46 for 425 yards and two touchdowns.

Rodgers threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams to help tie the game at 30 with one minute, 55 seconds remaining. He then drove the Packers down the field for Mason Crosby's game-winning 27-yard field goal as time expired.

C.J. Beathard had a big night through the air but was unable to guide the Niners to the victory. He threw for 245 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against a secondary that had ranked fourth in yards allowed (208.8 per game) entering the game.

      

Fourth-Quarter Comeback Doesn't Take Pressure Off Mike McCarthy

Rodgers was once again the hero for Green Bay and helped the team avoid what was shaping up to be a dispiriting defeat.

However, it was impossible not to contrast the 49ers offense with that of the Packers. One team got the most out of the talent at its disposal, and the other didn't equal the sum of its parts for long stretches.

Rodgers' knee injury unquestionably limits what he can do on the field, which in turn hurts the rest of the Green Bay offense. Packers fans will forgive the six-time Pro Bowler for being unable to make the kind of throws he would otherwise hit if fully healthy.

Those same fans will have less time for head coach Mike McCarthy.

The Packers were 4-of-13 on third downs. Nine of those third downs came with 10 or more yards needed to move the chains. 

It's time to go back to the drawing board when you have Rodgers and your offense is consistently having to convert long third downs against a team that ranks 21st in defensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders.

McCarthy and his coaching staff also failed to utilize what was a successful ground game Monday night. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined to run for 70 yards on 14 carries. Although neither Jones nor Williams had a run go more than 16 yards, they were effective with the ball in their hands.

The criticism around McCarthy is nothing new. Having a legendary quarterback in Rodgers helped paper over the cracks and deflect pressure away from McCarthy.

Now that Rodgers is injured and can't carry the offense as he normally would, McCarthy's weaknesses as a coach are laid bare. At some point, the Packers can't keep counting on Rodgers saving them late in games.

      

Kyle Shanahan's Genius on Display with Beathard's Impressive Performance

Nobody really doubted how good of an offensive coach Kyle Shanahan was before Monday night. His work with Beathard is another reminder of how much a good head coach can elevate his team's performance.

Since replacing Jimmy Garoppolo as San Francisco's starting quarterback, Beathard has thrown for 889 yards and six touchdowns in three games.

Beathard is ultimately the one who has to stand in the pocket and make the necessary throws, so his success wasn't solely down to Shanahan's scheming.

But Shanahan helped set his players up well by knowing exactly how to attack the Packers defense. San Francisco made what had been a solid secondary look pedestrian.

Beathard completed 16 of his 23 pass attempts. On multiple occasions, 49ers receivers were getting the ball without a Packers defender within five yards. For the most part, that was the result of Shanahan's play-calling.

Beathard's interception late in the fourth quarter set the Packers up to drive for the game-winning score. The turnover illustrated his inexperience as he threw the ball up for Marquise Goodwin without looking to see whether Kevin King was in a position to make a play.

That's the give and take that comes with relying on a second-year backup.

The season-ending injuries to Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon essentially ended San Francisco's hopes of reaching the playoffs. Even with those two healthy, the 49ers were probably still a year away from the postseason.

The 2018 season can still be deemed a success, however, if the offense continues looking this good without two of its best players.

     

Mason Crosby Wins Back His Skeptics

In Week 5, Crosby missed four field goals and one extra point that collectively would've more than made up for Green Bay's eight-point margin of defeat to the Detroit Lions.

McCarthy didn't react in knee-jerk fashion and instead put his faith in the 12-year veteran. Crosby repaid that faith by connecting on all four of his field goals, including a 51-yarder in the third quarter.

And, of course, Green Bay had to call upon Crosby to split the uprights for the victory.

Earlier this year, the Cleveland Browns released Zane Gonzalez one day after he missed two field goals and two extra points in a 21-18 defeat to the New Orleans Saints. Likewise, the Minnesota Vikings wasted little time parting ways with Daniel Carlson after he went 0-of-3 as the team tied the Packers in Week 2.

Crosby deserved the benefit of the doubt after his historically bad showing against the Lions. He had been too good over his NFL career to let one game end his time in Green Bay.

Crosby's reversal of fortunes is also another example of how quickly things can turn around for a kicker. One week he's the goat, and the next week the Packers need him to win the game.

      

What's Next?

The Packers have a bye in Week 7, which will allow Rodgers to rest his knee in hopes of some improvement. Things don't get any easier for the 49ers in Week 7. They head home to take on the Los Angeles Rams, who are the NFL's last remaining unbeaten team.

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