This article could’ve been about how C.J. Beathard went into Green Bay and pulled off the biggest upset of the 49ers season. It could’ve been about how the biggest names on the 49ers defense stepped up when it mattered most. Instead, the night belonged to Aaron Rodgers with what felt like an inevitable comeback.
C.J. Beathard again played his heart out; he leaves it all on the field. Unfortunately, that includes points. After a blistering 24-point start in the first half, the 49ers scored six points in the second half. The 49ers failed to even enter the redzone, rather the offense sputtered on the cusp of the Packers 20. Field goals are not how you upset Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau, but that’s what the 49ers did. Valiant efforts also came from the offense’s playmakers – Matt Breida and Marquise Goodwin – as well as Raheem Mostert. Breida and Mostert combined for 148 yards and a touchdown while Goodwin shined with 126 yards and two touchdowns. Putting up 30 points in Lambeau is an achievement that shouldn’t go unnoticed, but it still wasn’t enough.
A combination of turnovers and defensive miscues doomed the team to a stunning defeat. This started with two fumbles in the first half that led to field goals. D.J. Reed fumbled the kickoff inside the 49ers 35-yard line which resulted in a strong stand from the defense. Then, Kyle Juszczyk fumbled a completion on the 49ers side of the 50 which again ended with a strong defensive stand. On a crucial third-and-three on the Packers 46, Beathard threw a costly interception to Kevin King. And the play before that, Beathard had a pass batted down. The 49ers could have ran the ball to either convert or set up a punt with less than 40 seconds on the clock. Instead, the Packers got one minute and seven seconds to orchestrate a field goal drive starting from their 10-yard line. And as the score indicates, it didn’t end well for the 49ers defense.
The defense stiffened up after allowing 20-points in the first half, holding the Packers to three points in the first 27 minutes of the second half. Then it all fell apart. Greg Mabin got absolutely picked on by Rodgers the final two drives. He allowed the game-tying touchdown to Davante Adams on the penultimate Packer drive. He then followed that up by being burned multiple times on the game’s final drive, notably on the Packers’ third-down conversion near midfield and on a 19-yard gain to give Mason Crosby a chip-shot attempt.
The big story of the final drive, however, is the illegal contact on Richard Sherman on the third-and-fifteen sack by DeForest Buckner. It was a clear penalty as Sherman grabbed Adams shoulder and spun him around, but it was unnecessary as Rodgers was busy trying to run away from Buckner. Not committing that penalty could have completely flipped the script of the game. The Packers would have had to punt from their own 15-yard line, giving the 49ers around 35-40 seconds to mount their own game-winning drive.
C.J. Beathard can be 2-1 as the 49ers starter, but the defense and the 49ers propensity to keep shooting themselves in the foot have led them to a 0-3 record since Garoppolo’s injury. And things don’t get any easier as the 49ers play the undefeated Rams at home. A shootout like last season’s Thursday night matchup is what the 49ers need to have a chance at upsetting their LA rivals.