After furious comeback, 49ers leave Rodgers too much time
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Everything seemed to be going to plan down the stretch of the San Francisco 49ers’ first home game with fans in more than 20 months — with just one small problem.
They left Aaron Rodgers with a little too much time for a gut-crushing comeback.
After Kyle Juszczyk’s 12-yard TD catch with 37 seconds lead gave the Niners the lead in a game they once trailed by 17 points, San Francisco’s defense allowed Rodgers to complete two passes to Davante Adams and lost 30-28 on Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal on the final play Sunday night.
“You always worry with Aaron on the other side,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s why we didn’t use any timeouts. We were hoping to take it down.”
San Francisco (2-1) took over at its 25 with 2:39 to play and facing a six-point deficit after an inexplicable fumble by Jimmy Garoppolo set up a field goal by Crosby.
Garoppolo responded with two big passes to George Kittle and a third-and-10 conversion to Deebo Samuel to get the ball to the 12 with 43 seconds left. He then hit Juszczyk on a slant for the score, giving the Niners a 28-27 lead in a game they trailed by 17 points in the first half.
As the 49ers players celebrated and the fans roared in their first game back at Levi’s Stadium since the 2019 NFC title game win over Green Bay, Rodgers was plotting the final comeback.
“I didn’t really have a lot of time to think about it,” Juszczyk said when asked if he left the Packers too much time.
“I think the entire team was swarming me. I didn’t even know how much time was left on the clock. It wasn’t really something that was on my mind during the play as well. We were down six. We needed a touchdown. So I was trying to score.”
Rodgers exploited a banged-up secondary that went into the game missing cornerback Jason Verrett and then lost K’Waun Williams and Josh Norman to injuries by completing two passes to Adams that set up the winning kick.
“There’s always too much time on the clock if there’s ever time on the clock, especially with Aaron Rodgers,” Kittle said. “I think we have a really good defense. I don’t really have any worries when our defense is out on the field. But it’s Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams over there. They did what they had to do to win.”
And the Niners made too many mistakes that they couldn’t overcome. Garoppolo threw an interception in the first half that helped put San Francisco in the 17-0 hole.
His fumble when he threw the ball to the ground behind him while trying to avoid a sack by Kenny Clark gave the Packers another score.
There were also three long pass interference calls and a running game that was held to 67 yards on 21 carries.
That added up to a loss for a Niners team that returned home following back-to-back road wins at Detroit and Philadelphia to open the season.
“There were some great individual efforts of guys just making unbelievable plays that got us in and gave us a chance to win that game,” Shanahan said. “But some mistakes that we made throughout the game, you don’t win a lot of football doing that. That’s what we’ve got to clean up.”
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