Perspective from the East Coast. The San Francisco media is too awash in its wine and cheese to make such a bodacious statement about the Red and Gold Super Bowl bound 49ers. Bullies in San Francisco????
Washington Post – Jerry Brewer 1.20.2020
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There was the thought, as nostalgia drifted into minds, that maybe Aaron Rodgers had some vintage greatness under his sleeve. Maybe he could do something magical. Maybe he could avenge his worst performance of the regular season, find a way to hogtie the San Francisco 49ers’ mammoth defense and transform this NFC championship game into a triumphant homecoming.
It was a cute, fleeting thought.
The San Francisco 49ers are the NFC’s greatest force, and they are just getting started. It leaves Aaron Rodgers in a place familiar to many who persist in this game: as an aging legend in need of help.
On Sunday, with a Super Bowl berth at stake, the 49ers bludgeoned all quarterbacking fairy tales with their brand of harsh reality. They pounded Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 37-20. They led 27-0 at halftime and needed only eight total pass attempts from their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, to be so dominant. There are blowouts, and then there are completely demoralizing beatdowns that make you reexamine everything you know about the game. This was definitely the latter.
Given that San Francisco stomped Green Bay, 37-8, in the regular season, it’s no great surprise that the 49ers proved to be superior again. Nevertheless, it was stunning to witness Rodgers — that baaaaad man for so long, the NFL’s most feared something-out-of-nothing genius — yield to a greater force without the least bit of adjustment. Rodgers and the Packers had seen the 49ers at their mightiest, underestimated them, gotten embarrassed and taken the time to reflect and revise their approach. But the rematch wasn’t much different from their November meeting, when Rodgers threw for just 104 yards on 33 pass attempts.
In fact, this humiliation felt worse because they knew what was coming, and not even the league’s improvisational master could come up with a better way to combat the ferocious defensive pressure.
San Francisco didn’t just want to win. It wanted to pound Green Bay into submission, something that hardly ever happens with Rodgers under center making miracles happen. But the Packers lost their spirit early in this game. Rodgers could not extend plays; when he tried, he looked foolish and helpless as he took sacks. He muffed a snap and gave little effort as 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner fell on the fumble. Later in the second quarter, he threw an interception to Emmanuel Moseley that led to the third touchdown of the first half for 49ers running back Raheem Mostert, who finished his career day with 220 of San Francisco’s 285 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Rodgers improved in the second half and finished with respectable statistics: 31 for 39 for 326 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions. He did not quit. But those numbers were deceiving because they were accumulated mostly against a defense that had turned conservative.
The first half was more indicative of the kind of game Rodgers had. He went into halftime having completed 9 of 12 passes for just 64 yards. He had those two turnovers and posted a 52.1 passer rating. He was sacked twice, so the Packers had only 41 net passing yards at the break.
And that should be the largest feather in the 49ers’ conference championship cap. They ruined one of the last good chances Rodgers had to win a second Super Bowl. They may have also sent him officially into a new existence as an old quarterback.
“It definitely hurts, I’d say, a little more than early in the career,” Rodgers said. “It’s just because you realize how difficult it is to get to this spot.”