Follow along throughout tonight’s NFC showdown between the Green Bay Packers (8-2) at San Francisco 49ers (9-1), with the latest at the bottom of the story, and join the conversation.
The World’s Best Preview
A final thought
Situational football and turnovers tend to dictate the outcome of big games. The 49ers have been outstanding in that regard. They entered the week ranked first in red-zone defense (40.9 percent touchdowns) and second in third-down defense (29.9 percent conversions). Offensively, the Niners are fourth on third down (47.5 percent conversions) but 23rd in the red zone (50.0 percent touchdowns). Red-zone defense has been Green Bay’s saving grace. While the Packers are 28th in total defense, they are 14th in points allowed thanks to the league’s seventh-best red-zone defense (48.5 percent touchdowns).
Green Bay entered the week ranked seventh in turnover margin at plus-9. The 49ers were tied for seventh at plus-5. After intercepting an NFL-record two passes last season, it had 11 interceptions among a third-ranked 22 takeaways this season
“I don’t think we’ve gotten to a point where we’ve all three phases have really put it together for all four quarters,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think there’s been glimpses in each phase, but one area where we’ve done a really good job is winning the turnover battle and that’s going to be huge again this week.”
San Francisco 7, Green Bay 0 (13:02)
The score: Tevin Coleman spun through safety Adrian Amos’ tackle attempt for a 2-yard touchdown.
Key play: Turnovers would be the key and, sure enough, the 49ers forced one on the opening possession. San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner blitzed on third-and-10, sacked quarterback Aaron Rodgers and dislodged the ball. Defensive end Nick Bosa scooped up the loose ball and returned it to the 2. Coleman scored on the next play.
The Packers had been turnover-free for four consecutive games, tied with 2014 and 2016 for their longest streak since 1933. Green Bay had not fumbled in four consecutive games, its longest single-season streak since 1967.
San Francisco 7, Green Bay 0 (6:56)
The Packers’ first three drives resulted in one first down, one 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, one turnover and one injured right tackle, with Bryan Bulaga departing on Green Bay’s third possession. Bulaga walked to the locker room with San Francisco’s offense on the field. The team reported it was a knee injury, with Bulaga being questionable to return.
San Francisco 10, Green Bay 0 (3:13 remaining)
The score: Chase McLaughlin booted a 29-yard field goal.
Key plays: A third-down sack by safety Adrian Amos was wiped away by what appeared to be a dubious hands-to-the-face penalty on cornerback Kevin King. On the next play, Jeff Wilson blew through the middle of the Packers’ defense for a gain of 25.
San Francisco 10, Green Bay 0 (1:25 remaining)
The Packers once again went nowhere fast. Their first possession stalled on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Davante Adams. The second died on a dropped pass on third down by Geronimo Allison. The third was detoured by a run for minus-3 on first down by Jamaal Williams. The fourth was ruined by a block in the back by Allison, which turned a third-and-1 into a second-and-16.
Through the first quarter, the Packers were outgained 59-16, were 0-for-4 on third down and were averaging 1.1 yards per snap. Making matters worse, right tackle Bryan Bulaga was ruled out with a knee injury.
San Francisco 10, Green Bay 0 (11:06 remaining)
On fourth-and-1 from the Niners’ 28, Packers coach Matt LaFleur kept his offense on the field but called timeout. Given time to rethink his decision, he kept the offense on the field but replaced Jamaal Williams with Aaron Jones at running back. LaFleur called a quick-hitting run to Jones but he was stuffed at the line. Defensive tackle D.J. Jones continued to have his way with center Corey Linsley to make the play. San Francisco entered the night ranked No. 1 in fourth-down defense (15.4 percent) while Green Bay was No. 32 with zero fourth-down conversions (0-for-3).
San Francisco 10, Green Bay 0 (6:20 remaining)
Given a reprieve when defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet to hit on third-and-35, the Packers almost had the big play they needed. On third-and-8, Aaron Rodgers eluded defensive end Nick Bosa and threw a bomb to tight end Jimmy Graham, but safety Jimmie Ward was able to pry it loose as they tumbled to the turf. It would have resulted in a first down at the Niners’ 27, and coach Matt LaFleur should have thrown a challenge flag given it was a close call and a potential 40-yard gain. Midway through the second quarter, Green Bay is 0-for-7 on third down and San Francisco is 0-for-4. The Packers have 16 net passing yards and the 49ers have 14 net passing yards.
San Francisco 13, Green Bay 0 (2:55 remaining)
The score: Chase McLaughlin made a 27-yard field goal to give the Niners a big lead. With San Francisco getting the ball to start the second half, the pressure is on.
Key plays: The drive started with Jimmy Garoppolo hitting Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle for gains of 18 and 22 yards to start the drive. On the next play, Tevin Coleman ran for 11.
San Francisco 20, Green Bay 0 (58 seconds remaining)
The score: With the 49ers appearing content to run down the clock and kick a field goal to lead 16-0, Jimmy Garoppolo hit rookie receiver Deebo Samuel for a 42-yard touchdown. He beat Tramon Williams at the line and outran Williams and safety Chandon Sullivan to the end zone. The game is officially a massacre.
Key play: After a lousy punt by JK Scott gave the Niners the ball at their 39, Raheem Mostert took a draw for 16 yards to get the 49ers off and running.
San Francisco 23, Green Bay 0 (end of half)
The score: Chase McLaughlin split the uprights from 48 yards as time expired.
Key plays: Yet another bad punt gave the 49ers the ball at their 48 with 24 seconds remaining. On the first play, Jimmy Garoppolo found tight end George Kittle open over the middle for a gain of 22 yards to set up the field goal.
The 49ers outgained the Packers 196-60 in the first half. Aaron Rodgers was 10-of-20 passing for 41 yards and a 56.2 passer rating. Green Bay had just 9 net passing yards. The 49ers will have the ball to start the second half, as this game looks all too much like how Green Bay was crushed at Denver 29-10 after the bye in 2015.
San Francisco 23, Green Bay 8 (3:52 remaining)
The score: Aaron Rodgers flipped the ball to receiver Davante Adams for a 2-yard touchdown pass. It was Adams’ first touchdown of the season.
Key plays: On fourth-and-4 near midfield, Rodgers had nowhere to go until he dumped the ball to Jamaal Williams for a gain of 15, which included 22 yards after the catch. Three defensive penalties kept Green Bay going. First, a facemask following a minimal catch by tight end Marcedes Lewis gave the Packers a first down at the Niners’ 11. On third-and-8 from the 9, offsetting penalties – holding on fill-in right tackle Alex Light and illegal contact on cornerback Richard Sherman – gave Green Bay a mulligan. On the re-do, Rodgers scrambled for 4 but Sherman was flagged for unnecessary roughness to give it a first-and-goal at the 2.
San Francisco 30, Green Bay 8 (2:55 remaining)
The score: Jimmy Garoppolo found tight end George Kittle streaking wide open deep over the middle for a 61-yard touchdown. So, while the Packers slogged for eight-and-a-half minutes for their score, the Niners needed a minute. Kittle has 129 receiving yards; the Packers have 112 yards as a team.
San Francisco 37, Green Bay 8 (4:58 remaining)
The score: Raheem Mostert broke tackles by safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage for a 15-yard touchdown.
Key plays: Neither team had converted a third down until the Niners moved the chains three times on the drive. The first was a 13-yard completion to Kendrick Bourne on third-and-10. On third-and-4, Mostert toasted linebacker Blake Martinez for a 22-yard catch.
Rodgers' night was over. He finished 20-of-33 but for just 104 yards. He averaged just 3.2 yards per attempt. The previous worst of his career was 3.50 yards in the aforementioned game vs. Denver. The Packers didn't convert a third down until the final moments, when Jamaal Williams moved the chains with a run on third-and-9.
At 8-3, the Packers are tied with the Vikings for first place in the NFC North and, other than a Week 16 game at Minnesota, have a soft final schedule. However, after this debacle, it's hard to take the Packers seriously as a championship contender. On Wednesday, Rodgers said the Packers would have to win once at San Francisco - either this game or in the playoffs. Winning a potential rematch seems like an almost insurmountable challenge.