SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There were 65 seconds before halftime Sunday night in San Francisco, and the Green Bay Packers were ready to party once they arrived in the locker room.
Aaron Jones had just given the Packers a 17-point lead with a 3-yard touchdown run, his fifth score in the past six days. The 49ers had yet to score a point. It was stunning, the thumping a Packers team down to a third-string left tackle had put on a fellow NFC contender, and at first, it was fair to question whether the hot start would last.
As Jones crossed the goal line, those doubts had all but dissipated.
Then the Packers’ special teams picked the worst time to fall asleep. And the defense followed. And what had been the makings of a stunning Packers rout was on its way to becoming a fight to the finish.
Then the Packer’s special teams picked the worst time to fall asleep. And the defense followed. And what had been the makings of a stunning Packers rout was on its way to becoming a last-second 30-28 win.
After Aaron Rodgers connected twice with Davante Adams to lead the Packers downfield, Mason Crosby made a 51-yard kick as time expired, lifting the Packers to 2-1 on their season. It was Crosby’s third field goal of the night.
Only three weeks into their season, the Packers seemingly were about to suffer a 28-27 gut-punch loss. Jimmy Garopplo engineered a late drive, which ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk with 37 seconds left.
Only three weeks into their season, the Packers arrived at a gut-check moment that would test their mettle. A win suddenly looked far from certain after the Packers allowed 68 yards to 49ers kick returner Trenton Cannon following Jones’ touchdown. With 54 seconds left before halftime, the 49ers had possession at Green Bay’s 32-yard line.
The Packers defense offered some resistance, but 49ers quarterback Trey Lance scored 10 plays later on a 1-yard run to the left pylon.
The 49ers opened the third quarter marching 83 yards in 13 plays, ending with an 8-yard pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to receiver Brandon Aiyuk. The score trimmed the Packer’s lead to 17-14 without Rodgers having a chance to touch the football.
The Packers built their 17-0 lead late in the second quarter on a quick-passing game and steady commitment to run the football. They had little choice without left tackle Elgton Jenkins at left tackle. Jenkins had replaced All-Pro David Bakhtiari in the first two games, including all 65 snaps Monday night against the Detroit Lions, but an ankle injury from that game forced him to be inactive Sunday night.
The Packers gave third-year tackle Yosh Nijman his first career start on the blindside. He was matched against 49ers star edge rusher Nick Bosa, who wrecked the Packers’ first drive. On consecutive snaps, Bosa batted a pass and drew a face-mask penalty against Nijman, forcing a Packers field goal. Mason Crosby’s kick split the uprights from 54 yards to give the Packers a 3-0 lead.
But the Packers used their quick-passing attack and run game to keep the 49ers pass rush at bay. Rodgers completed his first dozen passes, including a 1-yard touchdown to Davante Adams. It was Adams’ first score of the season. By the end of the third quarter, Adams had caught 10 passes for 90 yards.
Adams took a hellacious shot from 49ers safety Jimmie Ward on a deep shot midway through the fourth quarter. Ward had a running start from across the field when he slammed into Adams, who did not move after the impact. The Packers badly wanted a flag for the contact, but none was thrown. Adams got up and walked off the field without any help after the medical staff evaluated him for a few moments.
After missing one play, Adams was back on the field.
The Packers held a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter when Jimmy Garoppolo was called for a backward-pass fumble. Garoppolo lost the football with Kenny Clark closing in on him, and inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell recovered at San Francisco’s 38-yard line, up 24-21. Mason Crosby’s second field goal of the night, this one from 38 yards, gave the Packers a 27-21 lead with 2:39 left.