SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The head coach's words were rather pointed, and they were pointed at himself as well as his team.
"Bad ball." "Absolutely abysmal." "We have to man up."
Those were snippets of Matt LaFleur's comments after the Packers were dominated by the 49ers, 37-8, on Sunday night at Levi's Stadium.
A game that was supposed to showcase two of the NFC's contenders was never really a contest. As a result, the Packers are now two games back of the 10-1 49ers for the top spot in the NFC and have fallen into a tie with the 8-3 Vikings for first place in the NFC North.
Aaron Rodgers was sacked and fumbled on the game's opening series, giving the 49ers an easy 2-yard touchdown drive, and the game never really got better.
Rodgers was sacked five times, threw for barely 100 yards in 33 attempts and didn't convert a single third down (0-for-13) while he was in the game.
Special teams provided no help, as the punting and return games were poor again, and a defense that held up for most of the first half eventually gave up the big plays that have plagued the unit for a couple of months now.
"I'm disappointed in myself with how we got outcoached and we got outplayed," LaFleur said. "The bottom line it's unacceptable. We have to look at ourselves. There's a lot to correct if we want to be the team we want to be."
To make matters worse, the Packers lost veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga to a knee injury in the first half. The severity of the injury isn't yet known but he went to the locker room and never returned, replaced by Alex Light.
The score was 13-0 before the 49ers scored twice on the final minute of the first half, on a 42-yard TD pass to Deebo Samuel and then a field goal on the final play after the Packers' fifth three-and-out of the first half.
The Packers momentarily showed life with a touchdown drive in the third quarter, capped by Davante Adams' first TD reception of the season. But when the 49ers responded by going 75 yards in two plays, scoring on tight end George Kittle's 61-yard catch and run off a wide-open play-action rollout, the Packers were finished.
The performance was especially disappointing given the stakes of the game, and the fact the Packers were coming off their bye week. But the 49ers controlled the line of scrimmage from start to finish, especially with their top-rated defensive front.
"They got after us pretty good," LaFleur said. "It definitely hurt us when Bulaga went out, but even up to that point they were still getting pressure.
"We have to have a better solution for our guys. I didn't feel like our plan was good enough and we didn't play good enough either."
San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo nearly doubled Rodgers' passer rating (145.8 to 75.8), completing 14-of-20 for 253 yards and two scores. Kittle caught all six of his targeted passes for 129 yards and the long TD.
Adams had just 43 yards, catching seven of 12 targets, and running back Jamaal Williams had 80 yards from scrimmage (45 rushing, 35 receiving). The Packers managed just 149 yards of offense before Rodgers was replaced for the last series by backup QB Tim Boyle.
"We didn't do a whole lot of positive tonight," Rodgers said. "A lot of stuff we talked about during the week, eliminating the negative-yardage plays, we didn't do that. They got after us up front and covered us good on the back end."
For the second time in three games, the Packers traveled to the West Coast and left with a lopsided loss.
Only this time, because it was against a team the Packers could face again in the postseason, it's imperative they figure out how to close the gap the 49ers exposed in front of a prime-time audience.
"We have to be critical of ourselves – coaches, players, everyone involved," LaFleur said. "We have to figure out why this happened and make sure this doesn't happen again."
Photos from the Week 12 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.