SANTA CLARA — No game in 49ers history will compare to Thursday night’s, not when four offensive mainstays were isolating at home for coronavirus precautions amid this year’s pandemic.
There was no way the undermanned 49ers, ravaged by injuries to so many others beyond those in quarantine, would repeat history and rout the Green Bay Packers in this rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game.
Alas, the game went on … and on … and on, until the makeshift 49ers sustained one of their dullest losses under coach Kyle Shanahan, a 34-17 debacle in which Green Bay led 34-3.
The 49ers (4-5) were no match with no Jimmy Garoppolo, no George Kittle, none of their top running backs, no defensive takeaways, and, as has been the case all season, no fans in a hollow-looking Levi’s Stadium.
A day earlier, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne got flagged for a positive COVID-19 test and the 49ers shuttered their facility. That set off a chain reaction as three high-risk contacts joined Bourne on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list: left tackle Trent Williams and wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.
That kept them out of this defeat, even though all the 49ers’ COVID-19 tests came back negative Thursday. Shanahan said he did not think about the game being delayed a few games because the NFL never broached that option.
On the COVID issues starting to ensnarl the NFL, “It’s not getting better right now, so that’s why everyone has to be on it with all the protocol there is. There’s still a number of games left and I know our team and the whole NFL plans on finishing those and I plan on us playing better.”
What ensued Thursday was the 49ers’ fourth loss in five home games since, well, since last season’s NFC Championship Game, when they tore out to a 27-0 halftime lead and advanced to the Super Bowl with a 37-20 win over the Packers.
It felt like turn-back-the-clock night to, say, those miserable, non-playoff seasons this century when the 49ers lacked star power and any offensive punch.
The Packers (6-2) had plenty, led by grudge-holding quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose four touchdown passes matched Russell Wilson’s total only four days earlier in the Seattle Seahawks’ 37-27 win over the 49ers.
The 49ers now have only one game in the next 23 days, that being a Nov. 15 visit to the New Orleans Saints before their Week 11 bye and then a Nov. 29 game at the Los Angeles Rams.