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SANTA CLARA — At last, the home opener for the 49ers in front of a full house.
Unless you like the other green and gold team, the Green Bay Packers, you did not go home happy.
Aaron Rodgers was 23-of-33 for 261 yards with two touchdown passes and completed a 17-yard strike to Davante Adams with :16 left. Rodgers then spiked the ball and gave an emphatic punch gesture to signify to the sold out crowd of 69,853 at Levi's Stadium that this game was over!
"I don't know about if we sealed it, we still had [to kick] a 51-yard field goal but my old partner "Mace", I felt good about him nailing that," Rodgers said. "He's made some big kicks over the years."
The ever reliable Mason Crosby then calmly kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired and the Green Bay Packers stunned the 49ers, 30-28 on Sunday Night Football.
"Well I mean that's how it is, you know, we've played together for a long time," Crosby said. "And he knows he did his part and he trusts I'm going to go out there and do mine so I'm always happy when I can come through and finish off a game like that."
And Rodgers, who has a memory like an elephant, still hasn't forgotten that he could have been the number one pick by the 49ers in the NFL Draft. But we all know he had to wait until Green Bay picked him 24th.
"I mean I would say early in my career there was a different motivation that involved April 23, 2005," said Rodgers drawing some chuckles from reporters in the Packers interview room. "That kind of adjusted over the years to just a love for this area, love and respect for my time here. Going to Cal, still very close to the program. I love the [Bay] Area, and have a lot of friends in the area. It's always fun coming back. It hadn't been fun in two of the previous three (games) but this one's pretty sweet."
The big problem for the 49ers was falling behind 17-0. In fact, Rodgers began the game 9-of-9 and was in rhythm while Jimmy Garoppolo was unable to complete throws or his passes were into traffic and nearly intercepted. In his postgame presser, Coach Kyle Shanahan agreed they have to get off to a better start.
"I think we've got to play a lot better than we did," Shanahan said. "Just some of the mistakes we made especially early in the game in the first half especially on third down in some critical situations. I think what you saw at the end just getting back into the game shows (you) some of the players we have on our team.
"I thought there were some great individual efforts of guys just making unbelievable plays that gave us a chance to win that game. But some of the mistakes that we made throughout the game, you don't win a lot of football doing that and that's what we've got to clean up."
One of the most glaring concerns is the running game with injuries to JaMycal Hasty (ankle), Elijah Mitchell (shoulder), and the absence of Raheem Mostert who has torn cartilage and opted for season-ending knee surgery. It was up to rookie Trey Sermon who was a third round pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Sermon did score his first career touchdown but he finished with just 31 yards on 10 carries. One of those runs was for 16-yards so he was not very productive. The team collectively had 21 carries for 67 yards. Captain Obvious says someone needs to step up in the run game.
If Shanahan hadn't utilized rookie Trey Lance to run a 1-yard touchdown with :02 left before halftime, the 49ers would have been shut out.
In the second half the offense was much more productive with 199 net yards. Garoppolo was 15-of-22 for 166 yards, two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Garoppolo used the momentum of the last play in the first half and carried that into the third quarter when he connected with Brandon Aiyuk on an 8-yard touchdown pass. But Green Bay answered with a 12-yard TD pass from Rodgers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling who made the difficult catch, and then posed for one of the cameras on the sideline.
Following Sermon's 1-yard scoring run, the Packers took advantage of a big mistake. Garoppolo was about to be sacked but he decided to spin around and threw a backwards pass which was a fumble.
Green Bay recovered, setting up a Crosby 38-yard field goal extending the lead to 27-21.
Garoppolo did make a big play though on 3rd-&-10 on their own 25 yard line finding George Kittle for a 39-yard catch and run to get the 49ers to the Green Bay 36-yard line. Two more passes to Deebo Samuel and Kittle and it was 1st-&-10 at the Green Bay 12-yard line. Garoppolo then completed a pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk who scratched and clawed his way into the end zone and a one-point lead for San Francisco.
However, there was 0:37 remaining with no time outs left for Green Bay. That's not enough time for Rodgers, right?...Wrong!
Up next for the 49ers, a home game on Sunday against their division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks who lost to the Vikings 30-17 and it should be another exciting game.
"Riding the high of a win or mourning the loss, you've got to flush it after 24 hours and get ready to go after it again," Kittle said. "If you mourn on it too long it affects your next week and then you're a day behind and you can't be a day behind on the Seattle Seahawks because they're going to bring it because they just had a loss too so it's going to be two angry teams fighting it out."
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Safety Jimmie Ward after the 49ers 37-20 win over the Washington Commanders on December 24, 2022.
Wide Receiver Brandon Aiyuk after the 49ers 37-20 win over the Washington Commanders on December 24, 2022.
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw after the 49ers 37-20 win over the Washington Commanders on December 24, 2022.