Jimmy Garoppolo did his best Aaron Rodgers imitation in the 49ers home opener, but in the end it was Aaron Rodgers who still did it better.
The 49ers opened their home schedule on Sunday Night Football by welcoming the Green Bay Packers to town. Levi’s Stadium was rocking as the 49ers sported their red 1994 throwback jerseys for the first time this season.
The Packers jumped out to an early lead, scoring on their opening drive and grabbing a 17-0 lead early into the second quarter. San Francisco did manage to get a touchdown back prior to the end of the half, as running back Trenton Cannon took the kickoff 68 yards to set up the 49ers in Packers’ territory.
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led the Niners to the 1-yard line before rookie Trey Lance came in and ran the ball in to cut the halftime lead to 17-7.
Garoppolo and the 49ers had the ball to open the second half and they cut further into the lead with a 13-play, 83-yard touchdown. The Niners and Packers traded some scores and punts, until the end of the fourth quarter was nearing, and the score sat at a 27-21 Packers lead after a Mason Crosby field goal with just over two minutes left to play.
And then Jimmy Garoppolo appeared to have his defining moment of the 2021 season so far.
After two incompletions, Garoppolo found tight end George Kittle over the middle, who scampered 39 yards to the Packers’ 36-yard-line, leading to the two-minute warning.
As the drive continued, the 49ers snapped the ball with just over 40 seconds on the clock on first down, and a clear-out route by Kittle led to Garoppolo finding fullback Kyle Juszczyk over the middle, who fought his way into the end zone to tie the game. Kicker Robbie Gould made the extra point to give the 49ers a 28-27 lead with just 37 seconds to play.
Everyone, Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels included, thought that Garoppolo had done it. He had engineered a Rodgers-like drive at the end of the game to beat the reigning MVP himself.
It turned out to be too much time, even with Green Bay starting on their own 25-yard-line with no timeouts.
Jimmy Garoppolo outdueled by Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers does what he often does: he found a way to get his team in position to win, tossing multiple completions to Davante Adams, driving to the 49ers’ 33-yard-line, before spiking it to set up the game-winning Mason Crosby field goal.
Garoppolo overcame a slow start to finish the game 25 of 40 for 257 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception along with a fourth-quarter fumble. But the 49ers struggled to get the rushing attack going for the second week in a row, managing just 67 yards on 21 attempts.
It was a nervy game from the outset, but especially so during the final quarter, when the 49ers put themselves in a position to win, but the defense, in the end, just didn’t do enough to keep Rodgers and the Packers offense at bay, sacking him only once and failing to generate any takeaways.
Jimmy Garoppolo was heroic in the 49ers comeback attempt, but unfortunately, the more experienced and battle-tested Aaron Rodgers gave Garoppolo a lesson in how to finish.
The loss drops the 49ers to 2-1 on the young season and they will host the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium next Sunday, looking to get back into the win column against their long-time rivals. The Packers lifted their record to 2-1 and they’ll head back to Lambeau to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4.