SANTA CLARA, Calif. – With his receiving corps banged up and depleted, Aaron Rodgers still made all the big throws to keep the Green Bay Packers exactly where they expected to be a quarter into the season.
It just took a little while to get warmed up.
Rodgers passed for 224 yards and a touchdown and also ran 17 yards to set up a key second-half score, and the Packers beat the hapless San Francisco 49ers 17-3 on Sunday for their first 4-0 start in four years.
"We're 4-0, we're first in the division and we're playing the kind of ball we want to play in most of the phases," Rodgers said matter-of-factly when asked to assess his team. "It was a grind out there."
Richard Rodgers caught a 9-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive before Rodgers got his team going in the second half after a slow start, ending a four-game losing streak to San Francisco (1-3), which lost its third game in a row following a season-opening victory over the Vikings.
Clay Matthews added his own flair to this one. When he sacked Colin Kaepernick in the third quarter, he kissed his right biceps Kaepernick-style to punctuate the play — one of Green Bay's six sacks to give them 13 in the past two games.
"Fortunately, we were able to wear them down both offensively and defensively and get a big road win," Matthews said.
While methodical with nothing fancy, Green Bay seemed unfazed with a short week and long trip West after winning at Kansas City on Monday night.
This is its first 4-0 start since going 13-0 in 2011.
The Packers wanted to get this far unscathed.
"That's the most important part for our football team," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Going back to when the schedule did come out we could pencil this game."
The Packers certainly hope their trip to Levi's Stadium will be the first of two this season. The Super Bowl comes to the second-year, $1.3 billion Bay Area venue in four months for its 50th year celebration.