Banged-up SF 49ers no match for Packers on Thursday night

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) against San Francisco 49ers safety Marcell Harris (36) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) against San Francisco 49ers safety Marcell Harris (36) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers, amid so many injuries and player setbacks, stood hardly a chance against the visiting Packers on Thursday night, and it showed.

It sure seemed like a herculean effort for the understrength SF 49ers to somehow upset the visiting Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football.

Particularly on a short week and after losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne, and left tackle Trent Williams to various injury lists during the week.

So it shouldn’t be a major surprise the Packers pulled off a one-sided 34-17 win over what seemed mostly like a Niners practice squad team. San Francisco didn’t even have a complete roster to have a full crop of weekly inactives, listing just three: cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, running back Tevin Coleman and linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.

The loss sends head coach Kyle Shanahan to 4-5 on the season and ensures his team stays in the basement of the NFC West through Week 9.

Green Bay got on the board early, following strong touches by running back Aaron Jones and followed by a 36-yard touchdown from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to wide receiver DaVante Adams to go up 7-0.

The Packers tried doing so again on their next drive, except the player who gave up the first touchdown, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, wasn’t having any of it:

Backup quarterback Nick Mullens, likely filling in for Garoppolo for the rest of the season, nearly had an impressive touchdown of his own, hitting wide receiver River Cracraft (it’s OK if you’ve never heard of him before tonight), only to see Cracraft not able to control the ball upon hitting the ground after getting both feet down in the end zone.

San Francisco settled for a field goal to make it 7-3.

Mullens finished the game going 22-of-35 for 291 yards, one touchdown against an interception for a passer rating of 86.7.

That interception, a tossup on a play where he was getting hit and should have rather gone for a sack and punt, resulted in Green Bay’s second touchdown.

Even that followed a ticky-tack defensive pass-interference call against cornerback Jason Verrett — a small piece of the season that’s gone terribly wrong for the SF 49ers.

Rodgers took advantage of more Niners injury woes just before halftime, as strong safety Jaquiski Tartt exited the game in favor of his backup, Marcell Harris, who subsequently surrendered a 52-yard touchdown to Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to make it 21-3 and all but put the game out of reach for San Francisco after two quarters.

Green Bay outgained the SF 49ers 209 yards to 124 in the first half alone with 13 first downs compared to the Niners’ five.

And the Packers had little trouble expanding the lead to 28-3 with Valdes-Scantling beating Verrett on a 1-yard score on Green Bay’s first second-half possession, adding to the rout.

Wide receiver Richie James was a nice little story for San Francisco, getting nine receptions for a career-high 184 yards and a touchdown after having no more than 60 in a game. But that was entirely offset by Adams getting 10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown. The SF 49ers had zero answers for him and Rodgers.

SF 49ers’ Justin Skule completely outmatched in place of Trent Williams

Turns out Williams is pretty important to the SF 49ers offensive line.

With Williams on the COVID-19 list, second-year pro Justin Skule got the start at left tackle and was a regular liability against Packers EDGE Za’Darius Smith.

Including this strip-sack fumble by Smith on Mullens:

Skule flashed a handful of moments his rookie season but found himself demoted in the swing-tackle role in 2019 to now-starting lineman Daniel Brunskill.

And if that says anything, it looks as if the Niners may be shopping for more tackle depth this upcoming offseason. Add that to the list of San Francisco concerns amid a season that’s gone horribly wrong.

Next. 49ers' 5 biggest disappointments over first half of 2020. dark

Hopefully, the SF 49ers wind up taking the extra break and mini bye week to get healthy before traveling to take on the New Orleans Saints for their seemingly annual trip there.