Aaron Rodgers

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sacked by 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner late in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 33-30 win over San Francisco on Monday night at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The 49er's were penalized for illegal contact on the play, giving the Packers a first down. 

GREEN BAY — If ever there was a golden opportunity for the Green Bay Packers to snap out of their early season funk, Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers was it.

The game was at Lambeau Field.

The 49ers came in with a 1-4 record.

The 49ers were forced to play their second-string quarterback.

The Packers were motivated coming off a dreadful performance at Detroit.

And except for wide receiver, the Packers came into the game reasonably healthy.

Add it all up and it was a perfect situation for a team that had struggled to a 2-2-1 record and was searching for a strong performance heading into its bye week. A hitting-on-all-cylinders game was necessary because the Packers' schedule turns brutal once they return from their one-week hiatus. Their last chance to get everything humming came against a 49ers team that has cratered since losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending injury.

Instead of putting together a long-awaited complete game, however, it was more of the same for the Packers, who seem to be doing everything half right this season. Of course, doing things half right also means you're doing them half wrong, but the Packers will have to settle for being consistently inconsistent at this point.

At least they hit their bye week on a good note. In a back-and-forth game that exemplified what the touchdown-crazy NFL leadership is looking for these days, the Packers emerged with a 33-30 victory over the 49ers on Mason Crosby's walk-off, chip-shot field goal as time expired.

Crosby finding redemption by going 4-for-4 on field goals following his meltdown in Motown and quarterback Aaron Rodgers leading a fourth-quarter comeback by putting up 10 points in the final 2 minutes was about as thrilling a finish as you'll find. More important, it saved the Packers season and should be uplifting as they take a breather on their schedule. Yet, there remains an uneasy feeling about the Packers after a sixth consecutive uneven performance.

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"That was a big bounce-back game for Mason, and really for our football team," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We needed that win. The Detroit game stung, so we improved tonight."

Maybe so, but the Packers didn't improve enough to convince anyone they've turned a corner. Now, they'll head into their bye week with a 3-2-1 record and facing the same uncertainty that has followed them all season − the offense still can't sustain drives and the defense keeps giving up big plays. On the other hand, each unit has had stretches of very good play, especially in the fourth quarter against the 49ers.

"You obviously want to go into the bye week clean," McCarthy said. "I think we're going to be in pretty good shape medically, so our guys have a chance to rest up and get back at it because we know the stretch run we have. A lot of good things tonight. Always some things we'd like to do better, but that's what the bye week is for."

With four of the next five games on the road at the Los Angeles Rams, New England, Seattle and Minnesota − combined record: 16-7-1 − the Packers' prospects are clouded at best. Sure, they usually start slowly and eventually hit their stride under McCarthy, but their persistent problems this season give no indication of when that might be. Or if it will happen at all.

If anyone expected the Packers to come out breathing fire after their embarrassing loss to the Lions, they were horribly disappointed. The 49ers, quarterbacked by second-year backup C.J. Beathard, took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards for a touchdown, averaging 10 yards per play prior to Matt Breida's 2-yard touchdown run.

That set the tone for a first half in which the Packers defense was on its heels the entire time. And what a tone it was. Shockingly, the defense looked dead, showing no emotion, no energy. no enthusiasm. Instead of making amends for the Lions game, it got worse.

The Packers trailed 24-20 at halftime largely because the defense couldn't get off the field. The 49ers rolled up 290 yards on 29 plays, matching their 10-yards-per-play average on the opening drive. Following in the tradition of Joe Montana, Steve Young and Colin Kaepernick, Beathard made the Packers defense look inept. Firing largely to wide-open receivers, he was 9-for-12 for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the opening half.

The game went nowhere during the third quarter, but trailing by a touchdown with their season on the line, the Packers got it together in the fourth. Rodgers, who finished with 425 yards passing, capped off a 58-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Davante Adams, cornerback Kevin King intercepted Beathard and Rodgers drove the Packers 81 yards for Crosby's game-winner, all in the last few minutes.

"I'm sure next Monday we'll take a good, hard look at this and think about what we did well the first six weeks," Rodgers said. "We're a couple plays away from being 4-2 or 5-1 and definitely a couple plays away from being the other way. We're thankful to be 3-2-1 right now and realize what's in front of us and how this type of play might not get it done against the next opponents on the schedule. We've got to play better."

Six games in, no one will argue that point.


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Contact Tom Oates at toates@madison.com.