GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers turned the ball over three times but still had a chance to hold off the Green Bay Packers.
Then an illegal contact penalty on cornerback Richard Sherman with 43 seconds left wiped out a sack of Aaron Rodgers on third-and-15.
No way were the Green Bay Packers going to give away a second chance at victory.
Seven plays later, Mason Crosby kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired to hand the young 49ers a 33-30 defeat.
“It’s part of the process and it’s part of going against the best quarterback in football,” Sherman said. “You give him a chance at the end — I can’t have that penalty on me … and give them a shot.”
It wasn’t just Sherman’s penalty that contributed to San Francisco’s downfall.
The Packers went 58 yards on a four-play drive that took just 1:05 to tie the game at 30 with 1:55 left on Davante Adams’ 16-yard touchdown catch.
The 49ers were in good shape with their next drive starting at midfield, but C.J. Beathard’s deep pass over the middle for Marquise Goodwin was intercepted by Kevin King at the 10. Under pressure, Beathard looked as if he might have underthrown the ball.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said Beathard had four options on the play. He didn’t pick the right one.
“It’s a play that if you hit it, it looks great. If you don’t, then yes, it’s not great. But it is what it is,” Beathard said.
The Packers took over and had a tough start. Rodgers was sacked with 43 seconds left, and it looked initially as if the 49ers would get one more shot. Given how they had burned the Packers with deep plays to Goodwin earlier in the game, San Francisco figured to have a decent chance to at least get a late field-goal try.
The flag on Sherman, who was covering Adams, gave Green Bay a fresh slate.
“Nothing, really. I covered him,” Sherman said when asked what happened on the play. “He gave me an outside release, we kind of ran into each other a little bit. And then it looked like a sack on the play — I didn’t look back and see it — and there was a flag.”
Asked if he agreed with the call, Sherman passed.
“It doesn’t matter if you agree with the call,” he said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, I didn’t agree with the call, they’re going to pick it up.’ They called it. I’ve got to find a way to do better.”
So does the rest of the secondary after the Packers got the 49ers to bite on play-action early that resulted in open passes to Jimmy Graham and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Rodgers found Valdes-Scantling for a 60-yard completion on the Packers’ first play from scrimmage, setting up Ty Montgomery’s 2-yard touchdown run with 9:20 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 7.
Graham and Valdes-Scantling each finished with more than 100 yards receiving. Adams had 10 catches on 16 targets with a game-high 132 yards and two scores.
“We kept fighting and I’ve got to give our guys credit,” Sherman said. “We’ve got to find a way to finish that.”