Five 49ers takeaways against the Packers: A hard-fought comeback ends in pain


The 49ers lost in their home opener after coming out flat and trying to rally late against the Green Bay Packers Sunday night. San Francisco could've been thoroughly embarrassed by the Packers. Instead, Trenton Cannon's 68-yard kick return gave the Niners newfound energy. After that, we had ourselves a ball game.

We take a look at my five takeaways below.

Too much horizontal offense

Head coach Kyle Shanahan is a play-calling wizard but I think he got in his own way Sunday. The truth is Shanahan didn't trust putting the game in Jimmy Garoppolo's hands and wasn't too confident in the running game early. San Francisco featured a ton of end arounds and screens, where it felt like they weren't going anywhere.

This takeaway isn't a shot at Shanahan but more proof that the offense's ceiling isn't high when Garoppolo is QB.

Jimmy Garoppolo holding the offense back

Garoppolo really needed a strong performance to leave Trey Lance in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, that didn't happen Sunday. If anything, it showed that Garoppolo is holding the offense back. San Francisco's tough three-game stretch started Sunday, and the Niners didn't make a statement.

Garoppolo's completion percentage over expectation was -5.3 compared to Rodgers' 13.1. I'm not an analytic guy but that stat is more than glaring. Garoppolo's poor play ignited the conservative play calling.

Their next two opponents are the Settle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals. Two teams that have high-powered offenses. I doubt that Shanahan pulls Garoppolo this week, so he really has to step things up. Both of these upcoming NFC West division games can be statement wins.

Underwhelming rushing attack killed drives

Initially, it looked like Shanahan didn't want to attempt to run the ball. Kyle Juszczyk getting involved was uplifting since I vouched for him to get the ball more. However, I'd be lying if I said the rushing attack didn't look odd at the start of the game. Early on, it felt like Shanahan deliberately didn't want to hand the ball to Trey Sermon.

George Kittle said the Packers defended their outside zone by "setting the edge with two guys and loading the box." Sermon's 16-yard run in the third quarter was nearly a third of the 49ers rushing total. I was extremely surprised that Shanahan didn't feature Lance as a runner more.

The defense had special moments but they're far from elite

The 49ers' defense had a few memorable moments. They had a low red zone stop after Garoppolo's interception and only gave up a field goal after a fourth-quarter Garoppolo fumble in San Francisco territory.

I thought the Niners would take advantage of the Packers' inexperienced offensive line. However, the defensive line did not generate enough pressure. Nick Bosa looked to be on fire in the first quarter but he cooled down when the game was on the line. Pass-rush was looked at as a strong suit entering the season.

San Francisco will have to improve their pass rush ability as they face two mobile quarterbacks in the upcoming weeks.

49ers had a team loss

Sunday's loss was the exact opposite of a complementary football. Miscues, poor execution, and being outcoached were all factors Sunday. You can blame Shanahan, Ryans, and Garoppolo but you wouldn't get anything out of it. Football is a team sport, and there are plenty of fingers to point.

San Francisco has to perform better on offense and defense, or their Super Bowl window will close rapidly.

Outlook

Sunday's game could be looked at as a character-building loss. However, San Francisco had plenty of character-building losses in 2020.

It's still early in the season, and the team will continue to grow. Growth will be a reoccurring thing for this team. San Francisco's efforts should be commended but not overly celebrated.

Rusell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks will be a tough challenge for this 49er team next week.