The scoreboard told the lopsided tale of a team in total control and yet, there was Kyle Shanahan, standing on the San Francisco 49ers sideline, still on edge, still uneasy.
He had seen similar scenes like this before: Aaron Rodgers down but not defeated, the future Hall of Famer trailing in a big moment yet still able to summon the poise to withstand unfavorable odds.
Even with a double-digit lead at home in late November against Green Bay, even with the home crowd cheering on the 49ers’ dominant performance, Shanahan couldn’t relax. This was Aaron Rodgers, a virtuoso of gridiron grace and spectacle, you see. And when Rodgers stepped onto the field at Levi’s Stadium and put eight points on the board just after halftime, Shanahan was again reminded why the Packers quarterback is still so impressive, so respected, even in his mid-30s.
“He can make a throw in any situation,” the 40-year-old coach said of Rodgers, who turned 36 eight days after that Nov. 24 meeting. “He’s never out of the game. It’s 23-8 halfway through the third quarter, and I think it’s a tight game because of who is over there at quarterback.”
Those eight points were all Green Bay would muster that night, as San Francisco capped an all-around dominant performance on Sunday Night Football with a 37-8 final score. Rodgers looked like a different guy that evening, completely frustrated and overmatched, the Packers’ pass protection was a virtual sieve and first-year head coach Matt LaFleur was outwitted by Shanahan, his longtime mentor. But, as LaFleur pointed out this week: “That las