SANTA CLARA (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers passed the first part of their three-game test with flying colors.
With another dominating defensive performance and efficient offensive game, the Niners routed the Green Bay Packers 37-8 on Sunday night and left little doubt that they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender heading into showdowns the next two weeks at first-place Baltimore and New Orleans.
“Everybody kind of has been sleeping on us,” tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “I don’t know what else we can do to say ‘Hey, we’re a force to be reckoned with, too.’ But I think we sent that message tonight to not only the Green Bay Packers but the rest of the NFL as well.”
The 49ers (10-1) rolled out to a strong start this season by overwhelming lesser opponents. They had one slipup at home two weeks ago against another top team in an overtime loss to Seattle but delivered a convincing win against a respected opponent by beating Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
The Niners held Rodgers to his fewest yards per attempt (3.2) in any game as a starter and allowed just 2.8 yards per play for the entire game, their best performance since 2012.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw two long touchdown passes and San Francisco had no turnovers in a nearly flawless performance that kept them one game ahead of Seattle (9-2) in the NFC West.
“He played very well,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I think it was one of his better games here. He was very efficient in everything he did and when he got opportunities for big plays he didn’t miss any of them and he took care of the ball as good as he has, so it was great.”
WHAT’S WORKING: Passing game. Garoppolo probably played his most efficient game of the season. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns for a career-best 145.8 passer rating. He had no interceptions for just the third time all season and his 12.7 yards per attempt were a career high. He was helped by the return of tight end George Kittle, who caught all six of his targets for 129 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
WHAT NEEDS HELP: There was little that went wrong this game but Garoppolo was under pressure at times. He was sacked three times and hit three others on just 23 drop-backs. The protection got better after Daniel Brunskill came in to replace the ineffective Justin Skule at left tackle. Starter Joe Staley could be back this week from a broken finger.
STOCK UP: DL Arik Armstead. The 2015 first-round pick was not very productive his first four seasons as he dealt with injuries and finding the right fit. He has been an integral part of the defensive line this season. He had two sacks against the Packers, giving him 10 this season. That’s tied for fifth most in the league and one more than he had in his first four seasons combined.
STOCK DOWN: WR Marquise Goodwin. With Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel healthy, Goodwin was a healthy scratch for the game. He was San Francisco’s most productive wideout in 2017 but has had little role this year with just 12 catches for 186 yards.
INJURED: DE Damontre Moore broke his forearm and will go on season-ending injured reserve. Jeremiah Valoaga is expected to be promoted from the practice squad to take his place. ... G Mike Person will be evaluated for a stinger on Wednesday.
KEY NUMBER: 0. The 49ers allowed no completions on passes that traveled at least 10 yards downfield. The Packers attempted nine throws without completing any, the most for a team with no completions at least 10 yards downfield since Nick Foles and the Rams went 0 for 12 against Chicago on Nov. 15, 2015, according to SportRadar.
NEXT STEPS: The 49ers begin a 10-day road trip on Sunday against Baltimore. San Francisco will then spend the week in Florida before finishing the trip with a showdown against the first-place Saints on Dec. 8.