Packers 'did what we needed to' in handily beating 49ers

Green Bay’s offense gets “jolt” from Aaron Jones’ return

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and RB Aaron Jones

No apologies are ever required in the NFL, so Green Bay won't be offering one.

Their win over a badly shorthanded 49ers team on Thursday night, 34-17 at Levi's Stadium, was just what the Packers needed while dealing with injuries and absences of their own.

"We did what we needed to do," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said shortly after Green Bay improved to 6-2 with some extra time now to get healthy before starting the season's second half.

"I thought the energy was there. That was something that we were looking for, and I thought really all three phases came to play."

The offense was the star, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams were practically unstoppable again, and the timing of running back Aaron Jones' return from a calf injury couldn't have been better with Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon on the COVID list.

The Packers took no time to get Jones involved, feeding him the ball on the first four plays of the game. Then on the sixth snap, Rodgers hit Adams for a 36-yard touchdown to start the Pro Bowl receiver's 10-catch, 173-yard night.

Green Bay scored on its first drive for the eighth time in eight games this season, and the rout was on.

"We had a jolt tonight having '33' back," Rodgers said, referring to Jones, who had 79 yards from scrimmage (58 rushing, 21 receiving). "He's a dynamic guy. He had a couple plays the first drive that were special. It was fun seeing him out there."

Rodgers went on to play a practically flawless game, going 25-of-31 for 305 yards with four TDs for a 147.2 passer rating as the Packers built a 34-3 lead in the fourth quarter.

He added a score to wide-open tight end Marcedes Lewis off play-action and a pair of TDs to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who bounced back from an early third-down drop to score both from deep (52 yards) and in close (1-yard scramble throw).

Defensively, the Packers were facing a unit with almost no one who took the field in the two San Francisco meetings last year, beginning with backup QB Nick Mullens.

Other than a handful of explosive plays to receiver Richie James (nine catches, 184 yards, TD), the 49ers couldn't get much going until a pair of garbage-time scores.

Green Bay's turnover-starved defense got a pair, as Preston Smith's pressure and hit produced a Mullens floater that safety Raven Greene picked off, and Za'Darius Smith smoked a backup left tackle having a rough night for a strip-sack. The offense turned both takeaways into points.

Rashan Gary spent his share of time in San Francisco's backfield, too, as Mullens (22-of-35, 291 yards, one TD, one INT, 86.7 rating) couldn't keep his undermanned offense in the game.

The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers faced off on Thursday Night Football on Nov. 5, 2020.

"I think it all starts up front and those are three of our best players on our defense," LaFleur said of the trio of pass rushers. "When they play really well, we're really tough to deal with."

The Packers also got notable contributions from running back Tyler Ervin (72 yards from scrimmage) and an offensive line that once again had to shuffle around due to an injury.

Right tackle Rick Wagner (knee) left the game, as did cornerback Jaire Alexander (concussion), running back Dexter Williams (knee) and linebacker Krys Barnes (calf).

The Packers can certainly use the 10 days between games now, as they're hoping to get left tackle David Bakhtiari, receiver Allen Lazard and cornerback Kevin King back soon, along with getting through this past week's COVID issue that sidelined three players.

That still pales in comparison to what the 49ers have dealt with all season injury-wise, and they had a trio of COVID holdouts thrown at them as well a day before the game.

But each victory counts the same, and the Packers know they'll get back to work next week atop the NFC North, and possibly two games up in the loss column depending on the 5-3 Bears' result on Sunday.

"It's still football. It still feels great to win," Rodgers said. "It feels good to be 6-2 at the halfway point and first in the division."