Stack enough first-round picks up at a particular position, and you’ll inevitably hit one of them.
The 49ers appear to have hit them all at once.
Behind the strength of their defensive line, the 49ers throttled the Packers 37-8 to move to 10-1.
They held Green Bay to 198 yards and collected five sacks, getting most of the pressure organically with their front.
Playing without offseason trade acquisition Dee Ford and the out-for-the-year Ronald Blair (and their 9.5 combined sacks), they kept Aaron Rodgers in a hurry throughout the night with their homegrown and highly drafted talent.
Rookie Nick Bosa (now with eight sacks) set the scene with his fumble recovery which set up a touchdown in the first quarter, and they kept making plays all night. He’s the latest first-rounder up front, and perhaps the best of the lot.
Along with DeForest Buckner (5.5 sacks), Arik Armstead, and bit player Solomon Thomas, it’s a pedigreed group. Former sixth-rounder D.J. Jones is making his share of plays, but you find impact players at the tops of drafts, and they have a lot of them.
They won’t be able to keep them all together forever — Armstead’s enjoying a great a contract year, with 10 sacks this season after nine in his first four years. But as long as they’re all here now, the 49ers have a chance to beat anybody in the league.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. How does Rodgers measure himself against other golfers? By height. Or yards per attempt.
The Packers quarterback was 10-of-20 for 41 yards in the first half, a whopping 2.1 yards per pass attempt. Or, roughly the length of the 6-foot-2 Aaron Rodgers.
That was mostly because the 49ers pressure didn’t give them time for plays to develop downfield. There were a few deep attempts that came to nothing, and his long pass in the first half was 10 yards.
He finished the game 20-of-33 for 104 yards and a touchdown (upping the average to 3.2 per attempt in a meaningless second half), and they pulled him in the fourth quarter in favor of Tim Boyle because things were so out of hand.
2. Packers rookie head coach Matt LaFleur has done a creditable job this year. He’s the only one in this class of rookie head coaches who is.
But it was stark seeing the Packers (8-3) so thoroughly out-planned and out-played Sunday night. It was just one stat, but they were 0-of-13 on third down conversions when Rodgers was pulled.
Coming off a bye week, coaches are supposed to have plenty of time to work out all the kinks, and have time to prepare Plans B, C, and D.
None of that was in evidence against the 49ers, and he told NBC’s Michele Tafoya at halftime (when he was down 23-0) that his plan was to “Sitck to the plan.”
That suggests there was one.
3. We could debate the finer points of Jimmy Garoppolo‘s game (and we will), but the best sign for the 49ers is that they’re able to keep him from having to carry the team on a regular basis.
No matter how good a quarterback is, reducing the number of factors is a good way to reduce mistakes. And by playing defense and field position and running, it makes it easier for him to succeed.
He also improved to 18-3 as a starter, and while that might not be a quarterback stat, it helps buy him time to get better at his craft.
4. While things have generally been going well for the Packers, it was alarming to realize Davante Adams scored his first touchdown of the season in Week 12.
And it was practically a rushing touchdown.
He leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, but hadn’t found the end zone at all until taking what amounted to a hand-off from Rodgers in the third quarter.
He missed four games with a toe injury, but it’s still odd to see their most established receiving target struggling to score.
5. The 49ers are not without their share of problems.
They particularly miss left tackle Joe Staley, out with a finger injury.
He was replaced in the starting lineup by sixth-round rookie Justin Skule, but he struggled enough that he was replaced in the first half by undrafted rookie Daniel Bruskill.
They anticipate Staley will be back soon, and they can use him.