The lost fumble on a strip-sack of quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the opening drive of the game also loomed large.
“It was a back-and-forth thing where we couldn’t make a play, offense couldn’t make a play, special teams – there was no momentum shift throughout the game,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “Just starting the game off, it was necessary to get the momentum in our favor and they got the ball at the 2-yard line. We wanted to make a stop. We just kind of started in a bad way.”
The Packers came in healthy after their Week 11 bye but struggled to move the ball against a stout San Francisco defensive front that held running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams to only 73 yards on 24 carries.
Receiver Davante Adams recorded his first receiving touchdown of the year off a push-pass from Rodgers with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left in the third quarter, though Green Bay still trailed 23-8 even after a successful two-point conversion.
A main reason for the 1-of-15 clip on third downs was the inability to get into third-and-favorable situations. Instead, the offense had to try to convert from third-and-7-plus, with three of those plays resulting in sacks.
“We just keep putting ourselves in these tough positions with these third-and-forever, second-and-forever,” said Adams, who led Green Bay with seven catches for 43 yards. “It’s tough against a good team to come back against stuff like that. We’ve got to put ourselves in better positions on early downs and that’s a start, that will help. And then the rest you’ve still got to execute.”
The trio of Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson combined for 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Tight end George Kittle and receiver Deebo Samuel, both questionable with injuries entering Sunday, added lengthy touchdown receptions.
Green Bay still sits atop the NFC North at 8-3 but lamented not being able to lay claim to the top of the conference heading into the final December stretch.
“We knew what we were coming up against,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “We knew we were coming up on a really good team, but we also knew that we were a good team, too. We didn’t showcase it today. That’s more of the frustrating part about it.”