Week 3's iteration of Sunday Night Football had all the makings of a blowout Green Bay Packers victory, but the San Francisco 49ers overcame a 17-point deficit to take the lead for the first time with 43 seconds to play.
In the end, even that was too much time for Aaron Rodgers, as he led the Packers down the field just in time for Mason Crosby to nail a 51-yard field goal for a 30-28 win.
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Green Bay Packers
Decisive, efficient and clutch are all perfect words to describe Rodgers' Sunday night performance in San Francisco.
The 2020 MVP finished with an average time to throw of 2.05 seconds, the quickest single-game figure he has ever recorded since PFF started recording the data point.
Aaron Rodgers Quickest Avg. Time-to-Throw in a Game Since 2011
|2021 Week 3 at SF||2.05 seconds|
|2013 Week 2 vs. WFT||2.11|
|2020 Week 1 at MIN||2.25|
|2011 Week 12 at DET||2.27|
|2017 Week 4 vs. CHI||2.29|
Rodgers also completed eight of the 15 pass attempts that traveled 10-plus yards downfield for 191 yards and a score, with four of those eight completions coming on third down.
Rodgers finished the night with five big-time throws in a performance reminiscent of last season's MVP-winning campaign.
Green Bay’s rushing attack wasn’t much of a help in this huge road win, but at least it got better production on the ground than it did in Week 1 and 2.
The Packers tallied zero explosive runs of 10-plus yards over the first two weeks of the season but had three from Aaron Jones this week.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Rodgers teamed up with his top weapon, Davante Adams, for most of the game. The star wideout was targeted on 56.3% of his routes against the Niners on Sunday night, the highest rate of his career by 12.5 percentage points.
Davante Adams: Highest single-game target rates over his career
|2021 Week 3 at SF||56.3%|
|2020 Week 9 at SF||43.8%|
|2020 Week 16 vs. TEN||41.4%|
|2020 Week 7 at HOU||41.2%|
|2019 Week 15 vs. CHI||39.4%|
Rodgers teamed up with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard for one deep completion, but Adams consistently moved the chains.
Rodgers’ quick release helped the Packers’ offensive line, but that’s not to say there wasn’t room for error.
Yosh Nijman was left to protect Rodgers’ blindside with star left tackle David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins out with injuries. Nijman, a 2019 undrafted free agent, entered the game with only one career pass-block rep to his name. And to no surprise, he felt the wrath of Nick Bosa. On first review of the game film, Nijman earned the second-worst single-game PFF grade by a Packers left tackle in the last five years.
Interior defensive lineman Kenny Clark and edge defender Rashan Gary were the only Packers pass-rushers to find any success. Of the six Green Bay defensive linemen to log 10 pass-rush snaps, Clark and Gary were the only ones to eclipse a 10%-plus pass-rush win rate. And Gary's case, most of his production was gifted to him in some way, as four of his five pressures were cleanups.
De’Vondre Campbell was heavily involved in coverage, with seven targets on 42 such snaps, but he made very few errors. He allowed only 23 yards on those seven targets while forcing two passing stops.
Ty Summers was in the same boat on a much smaller sample. He was targeted six times on 12 coverage snaps, but unlike Campbell, he made several mistakes. All six were caught for 40 yards, and Campbell missed two tackles after the catch.
Jaire Alexander had one of the top highlights of the night with his interception, and he also forced an incompletion and a passing stop en route to an elite-graded performance upon first review.
Rookie Eric Stokes, on the other hand, did not enjoy the same amount of success. He made no plays on the ball while giving up an explosive reception of 15-plus yards and committing two third-down defensive pass interference penalties.
San Francisco 49ers
Just because the Niners were seconds away from pulling off the comeback win doesn’t mean quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played well.
He recorded zero big-time throws for the third straight week and committed three turnover-worthy plays, but only one of those turnover-worthy plays gave the ball back to Green Bay.
Fortunately, rookie Trey Sermon was able to make a swift recovery from injury and started the game for San Francisco. However, his workload fell below expectations on Sunday night.
49ers Backfield Usage
|Trey Sermon||Kyle Juszcyk|
|58.6%||% of Snaps Played||68.6%|
|22 (3)||Routes (w/ Tgts)||30 (4)|
Sermon dropped one of his three targets and turned only two of his 10 carries into a gain of five or more yards.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
George Kittle was much more featured in the San Francisco offense this week, and Tight End Unversity’s own made the most of every opportunity he got.
49ers Receiving Distribution
|Routes||Targets||Yds Per Route Run|
|TE George Kittle||35||9||2.63|
|WR Deebo Samuel||42||10||1.24|
|WR Brandon Aiyuk||39||6||0.95|
Kittle’s after-the-catch prowess shined all night long. He broke four tackles and averaged 8.6 yards after the catch on his seven receptions.
Left tackle Trent Williams was as dominant as ever, and his work in the running game was highlighted with a big-time block on Packers corner Eric Stokes during Trey Lance’s touchdown run. Williams surpassed an 80.0 PFF grade in the first two weeks of 2021, which is likely to continue through Week 3 upon final review.
Star edge defender Nick Bosa did about all he could in this one, given Rodgers’ quick time to throw. He still managed to come through with six wins against the Packers, which accounted for nearly half of the team’s total combined pass-rush wins on the night.
Fred Warner was a disruptor against the run, notching a couple of run stops and generating a few other positively graded plays. Things weren't as sound in coverage, however, as he gave up a 25-yard completion in crunch time late in the fourth quarter and also committed a defensive pass interference on a third down.
San Francisco’s corner depth is an area of concern, and it got tested in the second half of play. Starting outside corner Josh Norman was knocked out of the game with an injury, causing rookie Deommodore Lenoir to take over his spot. Not too long after, the first-year corner got caught out of position in zone on a pivotal fourth-quarter third-down play that ended up in a Packers touchdown to extend their lead to two scores. Lenoir gave up two other first downs on the day.