Aaron Rodgers needs only 37 seconds to break Niners' hearts in Packers win

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It ended up being way more interesting than the Green Bay Packers hoped after Aaron Jones ran up the middle for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead, but at least they got another vintage Aaron Rodgers drive out of it.

Down 28-27 with 37 seconds left in the game, Rodgers completed two passes for 42 yards to Davante Adams to set up a game-winning, 51-yard field goal from Mason Crosby. It wasn't a Justin Tucker 66-yarder, but that'll still do for the Packers.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after a touchdown during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in the game at Levi's Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Aaron Rodgers, still a pretty good quarterback. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Packers looked on their way to a "Sunday Night Football" romp with the first three scores of the night, but the Niners finally awoke at the end of the second quarter. Jimmy Garoppolo did his best to push away the omnipresent Trey Lance questions with two second-half touchdown passes, but a late fumble proved costly when the Packers completed a field goal on the next possession.

The Niners got the ball back down 27-21 with two minutes left and Garoppolo pulled off what briefly appeared to be a game-winning touchdown drive, but leaving Rodgers even half a minute is a dangerous proposition.

Even with no timeouts, Rodgers needed only five plays to move from the Green Bay 25-yard line to the Niners' 33-yard line. The only player he targeted on the drive was Adams, who caught two passes to finish a 132-yard night that briefly looked like it would be cut short by a head injury.

Rodgers finished 23-of-33 for 261 passing yards and two touchdowns, while the Packers improved to 2-1 and first place in the NFC North.

Where does this leave the Niners and Jimmy Garoppolo?

In the grand scheme of things, there have been worse nights than Garoppolo's. His interception and fumble weren't great, but we would probably be talking about him saving the Niners right now if he were facing nearly any other quarterback.

Once a team drafts a quarterback early in the first round, there is a tendency to amplify the faults of the incumbent starter. Sometimes it's warranted, and sometimes fans and media turn a decent quarterback into a scrub.

The Niners' drafting of Lance third overall was the writing on the wall for Garoppolo. Lance coming in and scoring the Niners' first touchdown further etched the message. It's important to remember the Garoppolo isn't a late-career Andy Dalton, though. If Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan thinks Garoppolo is the better short-term option, the Niners aren't going to drop him when they're 2-1 and have key games against the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals coming up.

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