SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Aaron Rodgers threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns and the Green Bay Packers overwhelmed the undermanned San Francisco 49ers 34-17 on Thursday night.
Rodgers connected on deep shots to Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and a short toss to Marcedes Lewis in the first half, getting the Packers (6-2) out to a 21-3 lead over the Niners (4-5).
It was quite a reversal from the two meetings last season, when San Francisco outscored Green Bay by a combined 50-0 in the first halves on the way to lopsided wins in the regular season and NFC championship game.
The rematch looked nothing like those games in part because the Niners were missing almost all their key pieces from the game because of injuries and a positive coronavirus test for former Eastern Washington receiver Kendrick Bourne that also sidelined three of his teammates for “high risk” contacts.
That left San Francisco without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle), All-Pro tight end George Kittle (foot), NFC title game star running back Raheem Mostert (ankle), receivers Deebo Samuel (hamstring) and Brandon Aiyuk (COVID-19 list), left tackle Trent Williams (COVID-19 list) and key defenders Nick Bosa (knee), Dee Ford (back) and Richard Sherman (calf).
Rodgers and the Packers, who were missing three players on the COVID-19 list, took advantage of the opportunity.
Rodgers capped the opening drive with a 36-yard shot to Adams, who made an acrobatic catch over Emmanuel Moseley in the end zone for his league-leading eighth touchdown reception of the season.
Nick Mullens had an apparent TD throw to former Washington State receiver River Cracraft wiped out on replay for San Francisco, then threw an interception to Raven Greene after backup left tackle Justin Skule got beat for a pressure from Preston Smith.
Rodgers added a second TD pass to Valdes-Scantling and the rout was on.
Adams finished with 10 catches for 173 yards, making him the first Packers player with three 150-yard receiving games since Donald Driver in 2006.
Rodgers’ touchdown pass to Adams gave the Packers an opening-drive score for the eighth straight game to open the season. The only other team to do that since 2000? New England in 2007. The Patriots’ streak was snapped after eight games. The Packers have four TDs and four field goals on opening drives for an NFL-best 40 points.
Packers star running back Aaron Jones returned after missing two games with a calf injury. He made an immediate impact, touching the ball on the first four plays to gain 37 yards. He finished with 15 carries for 58 yards, along with five catches for 21 yards.
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