The San Francisco 49ers employ the NFL’s highest-paid fullback and one of the league’s most intriguing young tight ends. Furthermore, the team’s third and fourth wide receivers were inactive for Monday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. As a result, it was no surprise to see Kyle Shanahan’s team line up with a heavy dose of 21 personnel — two running backs and a tight end.
Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine countered this strategy by playing more snaps out of the team’s base 3-4 and sub-base defenses than at any other point this season, leaving a three-man line on the field for more than half of the game’s plays. Did it pay off? Probably not, as the 49ers still rushed for 174 yards at nearly six yards per carry and used Marquise Goodwin’s track speed to slice through the Packers’ secondary.
However, the Packers did keep San Francisco out of the end zone after halftime, allowing just 111 yards after the break compared to 290 yards of offense in the first half. Along those lines, Niners quarterback C.J. Beathard was 9-12 for 183 yards and a pair of scores in the first 30 minutes, and although he was 7-of-9 in the second half, those completions went for just 63 yards and he was picked off once late.
The rushing defense also stiffened after the half, dropping their yards-per-carry allowed from 7.1 before the break to 4.2 afterwards. It wasn’t a pretty performance by any means, but at least the defense did make some adjustments and was able to keep the San Francisco attack in check when it was most critical.
Here’s a look at the snap breakdown from Monday’s game.
OFFENSE (71 snaps)
Aaron Rodgers 71
Did Rodgers play a perfect game on Monday night? Not by a long shot, but he was good early and late — just good enough to get the Packers a win. His stat line of 25-for-46 for 425 yards gave him an average of 9.24 yards per attempt, his second-highest mark this season, and it pushed his number on the season up to 7.9, which is the highest mark since his last MVP season in 2014. In addition, Rodgers became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400 yards in consecutive games without throwing an interception.
Jamaal Williams 27, Ty Montgomery 26, Aaron Jones 19
Bring the Mike McCarthy vitriol once again. Jones got the start on Monday and finished with eight carries for 41 yards (still averaging over five yards per carry) but he disappeared for almost the entire second quarter and did not have a single touch after the first drive of the third. Meanwhile, Williams continues to look a bit better and more explosive than he did early in the season, with six carries for 29 yards (a 4.8-yard average). Montgomery had just four carries, but one was a two-yard touchdown and another was a critical 14-yard gain on the first play of the final drive.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 66, Davante Adams 63, Equanimeous St. Brown 35, J’Mon Moore 17
Without Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison once again, the Packers kept feeding Adams the football, as the fifth-year receiver saw 16 targets and caught ten of them. He and Valdes-Scantling each crossed the 100-yard mark, with MVS’ yardage total coming on just three catches — one for 60 yards on the Packers’ first offensive play, another for 30 on the first drive of the third quarter, and a 13-yarder in the fourth.
Moore got into the action with his first reception, a ten-yarder, while St. Brown’s only target on the day was a perfect 19-yard back-shoulder throw-and-catch that got the Packers into field goal range for Mason Crosby’s game-winner.
Jimmy Graham 56, Lance Kendricks 22, Marcedes Lewis 22, Robert Tonyan 2
It seemed that the Packers used a little bit more 12 personnel packages in this game, and Lewis set a season-high in snaps in this game. Graham and Kendricks combined for 13 targets, seven catches, and 141 yards, with Graham crossing the century mark in yardage on his own. Lewis did not see a target all game, however.
David Bakhtiari 71, Lane Taylor 71, Corey Linsley 71, Byron Bell 67, Bryan Bulaga 59, Lucas Patrick 16
The packers kept Aaron Rodgers fairly clean, at least for long stretches. Bulaga was not on the field at the start of the third quarter, but he did return in the fourth and proved to be an immediate upgrade over Bell, who had taken over at right tackle.
At this point, Bell appears at least serviceable at guard, but he looks truly outmatched when he lines up on the outside and has to deal with speed rushers. Keeping Bulaga healthy the rest of the way will be a critical factor, particularly if Jason Spriggs is out for any length of time.
DEFENSE (57 snaps)
Kenny Clark 52, Dean Lowry 49, Mike Daniels 39, Tyler Lancaster 3, Montravius Adams 2
Running the math here and assuming that the Packers did not use a four-man line at any point, the team lined up with three down linemen on no fewer than 31 snaps in this game — a little over half. That should certainly be the top mark this season, and it was likely due to the 49ers’ heavy use of 21 personnel with fullback Kyle Juszczyk and tight end George Kittle in the game.
Once again, Clark was a monster, recording seven total tackles plus a sack of C.J. Beathard. Daniels had a pair of tackles and some great play in the run game, while Lowry added two assists in extended action.
Clay Matthews 37, Kyler Fackrell 29, Nick Perry 29, Reggie Gilbert 23
Matthews had a mixed performance, as he notched a coverage sack of Beathard and a second hit but took an absolutely horrendous angle to the ball-carrier at one point late in the game and whiffed by a few full yards. Fackrell had four solo tackles, including a nice stop on a Beathard scramble in the fourth, while Perry filled up one category on the stat sheet: pass breakups, of which he had three.
Blake Martinez 57, Oren Burks 28, Antonio Morrison 3
Martinez made a total of 12 tackles in this game, including an excellent tackle for loss in the run game. Meanwhile, Burks was active and made three tackles plus an assist on special teams, but he did have at least one miss on a run play that allowed a stop for a one- or two-yard gain to go for ten.
Kentrell Brice 57, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 57, Jermaine Whitehead 27
Brice had four total tackles, but he got burned providing safety help on Marquise Goodwin as the Niners wideout took a deep ball 67 yards for six. Clinton-Dix forced his first fumble of the year and first since 2016 in the first half, popping the ball free from Juszczyk for Kevin King to recover. He also had a hit on Beathard on a blitz and recorded three solo tackles, while Whitehead made two solo stops out of the slot.
Kevin King 57, Tramon Williams 57, Josh Jackson 21
Finally, the Packers got a full game out of Kevin King, who was a part of two turnover plays. First, he recovered the fumble early on, but it was his interception in zero coverage late in the game that set up the winning drive. He was stuck on Goodwin on that play and got his head around just in time to locate the football and haul it in on a slightly underthrown ball that was forced in part by the Packers’ seven-man blitz. Williams allowed a touchdown to Goodwin, and both finished with three total tackles. Jackson played sparingly in the nickel and dime packages, landing one tackle and getting flagged for holding to erase a third-down stop near the end of the first half.