Among the most impressive parts of the Green Bay Packers’ 30-28 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night was the play of a few young players thrust into starting roles due to injuries. Yes, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams were the heroes late in the game, but they don’t get to mount their heroics without these role players stepping up.
Yosh Nijman got the start at left tackle in place of the injured Elgton Jenkins, a bit of a surprise after Billy Turner had moved from the right side to the left last year when needed. But despite a rough first drive, Nijman did a tremendous job keeping Nick Bosa in check, albeit with a little help from his teammates.
On the other side of the football, rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes expanded his role from a big one on Monday night against Detroit to a full starting job on Sunday when Kevin King was a surprise scratch due to an illness. Despite a penalty and allowing a few receptions, Stokes played well enough that the 49ers felt the need to target Jaire Alexander on the other side of the field a handful of times. That alone is a great sign for the young corner, who may well have just stolen the starting job from King.
Here’s a look at the playing time from Sunday night’s big win.
OFFENSE (63 snaps)
Aaron Rodgers 63
What more can you say about Rodgers’ performance? He was red-hot from the start, completing his first 12 passes in the game and going 16-of-18 in the first half. Although he would misfire a bit later on in the game, he delivered an incredible touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and then finished off the comeback with two perfect passes to Davante Adams to get the Packers into field goal range.
His final line went 23-for-33 for 261 yards and two touchdowns, while taking just one sack.
Aaron Jones 46, AJ Dillon 18
Green Bay’s rushing attack put up nice, round numbers in this game, as the two backs combined for exactly 100 yards on 25 carries. Jones did the bulk of the work, getting 19 rushes for 82 yards and a score. He was able to get a few nice running lanes and showed off his tremendous cutback ability on his touchdown run.
Davante Adams 56, Allen Lazard 42, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 40, Randall Cobb 21, Amari Rodgers 2, Malik Taylor 2
Adams had a scary moment in the fourth quarter, when he lay motionless on the field following a big hit from 49ers safety Jimmie Ward. The hit looked dirty at first, as it appeared to be helmet-to-helmet, but Adams said later that he actually took the impact in his chest and had his breath knocked out. The star wideout would return two plays later and set up the game-winning field goal with a pair of catches for 42 yards. In total, he caught 12 of his 18 targets for 132 yards and a score.
MVS also dealt with an injury of some kind late in the game, though he was evidently on the field for the Packers’ final pass attempt. He finally hauled in a deep ball from Rodgers for a 47-yard gain in the first quarter while also making a magnificent catch on a touchdown in the second half.
Lazard continued his run as the Packers’ run game enforcer, but he got into the action in the passing game with a big play of his own. He picked up a gain of 42 yards on the Packers’ first third-down opportunity of the game, and also helped convert another by drawing a pass interference penalty.
Robert Tonyan 46, Marcedes Lewis 25, Josiah Deguara 17
The Packers devoted their tight ends to helping in pass protection in this contest, with Tonyan frequently chipping on Nick Bosa and Dee Ford and Lewis occasionally taking them on one-on-one. Tonyan finished with just one catch for six yards, but his biggest play was planting Bosa into the ground on a second-quarter play.
Yosh Nijman 63, Jon Runyan, Jr., 63, Josh Myers 63, Royce Newman 63, Billy Turner 63
What a game this was for the Packers’ offensive line against a tremendously talented 49ers front. After scuttling the first series with a facemask penalty, Nijman settled in well against Bosa and kept him in check enough for Rodgers to get the ball out quickly; Bosa ended the game with four tackles, one hit on Rodgers, and no sacks. Turner was an absolute rock at right tackle, keeping Dee Ford off the stat sheet entirely, while the young interior linemen held up very well against Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw.
DEFENSE (70 snaps)
Kenny Clark 62, Dean Lowry 44, Kingsley Keke 42, Tyler Lancaster 17, TJ Slaton 2
While the Packers’ offensive line played well in the trenches throughout the game, Kenny Clark turned the 49ers’ interior linemen into his personal playthings. That started on the first defensive snap of the game, when he tossed center Alex Mack back into Jimmy Garoppolo’s lap, forcing a tackle for loss in the run game:
Clark won’t get much credit in the box score — he officially had just two tackles and one QB hit — but he deserves immense praise for his dominance at the line of scrimmage. His pressure also forced a fumble by Garoppolo that would officially go down as a team sack, the second in as many weeks for the Packers’ defense.
Lowry and Lancaster showed up a bit better in this game as well, with Lowry landing a QB hit and two tackles. Rookie Jack Heflin was active for this game, but did not see any playing time on defense, lining up for just four special teams snaps.
Preston Smith 57, Rashan Gary 51, Jonathan Garvin 20, Chauncey Rivers 13
Smith continued his resurgent start to 2021 with another big game on Sunday, recording a sack, three QB hits, and a tackle for loss. He continues to set a good edge against the run and he single-handedly scuttled a 49ers drive early in the third quarter by hitting Garoppolo and forcing an errant throw after the lead had closed to three points.
Gary and Garvin also provided some solid pass rushing, with two hits and a half-sack each. All told, the Packers’ pass rush was active and productive throughout the game as they landed 11 QB hits and finished with four sacks as a team.
De’Vondre Campbell 70, Oren Burks 25, Ty Summers 20, Krys Barnes 10
On the inside, Campbell played every down once again, doing a nice job all over the field and picking up 11 total tackles. He also recovered Garoppolo’s fumble and got a tackle on one of his two special teams snaps as well.
He was out there on teams due to the injury to Barnes, who left the game with a concussion. That led to the extended playing time for Summers and Burks, who split time in his place. Summers was on the field in base packages, while Burks lined up when the Packers went into sub. Burks finally got in on some pass-rush packages, as well, showing the interior blitzing that earned him some preseason praise and picking up a half-sack.
Adrian Amos 70, Darnell Savage 70, Henry Black 13
For the first time all season, the Packers played some three-safety looks as Black got on the field as the dime defensive back. He had one tackle on defense while adding a pair on special teams as well.
Savage in particular was noticeable in this game, as he was close to a pair of interceptions and made a great open-field tackle on tight end George Kittle for a loss of yardage.
Jaire Alexander 70, Eric Stokes 70, Chandon Sullivan 44
With King out, the Packers started Stokes at right cornerback in his place. While there were still a few bumps in the road, he should absolutely remain the starter whenever King returns, as he broke up a pass and recorded five tackles. He did get called for a pair of pass interference penalties; one in the end zone helped set up the 49ers’ first touchdown and was a legitimate call, but a 35-yarder in the fourth quarter appeared to be an extremely questionable penalty. All in all, though, he was sticky in coverage and did not allow any massive passing plays, something that cannot be said for King of late.
On the other side, Alexander was targeted more in the passing game than perhaps any other point in the past year. Not surprisingly, he was up to the challenge, breaking up three passes and coming up with a truly incredible interception over the middle of the field. Alexander’s instincts to bail on his zone with no receivers around and to turn and track a deep ball for an over-the-shoulder pick will surely be on highlight reels all week long.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Burks 21, Isaac Yiadom 21, Black 20, Summers 20, Taylor 17, Isaiah McDuffie 16, Shemar Jean-Charles 14
Mason Crosby went 3-for-3 on field goals, including a 54-yarder to start the scoring and a 51-yarder to end the game. Corey Bojorquez had another great day, booting three punts for a gross average of 54.7 yards and a net of 47.