GREEN BAY, Wis. ? Quarterback Alex Smith threw his third touchdown pass of the second half, and the 49ers had momentum with six minutes remaining.
But Smith would have no chance for late-game heroics.
Instead, it was Aaron Rodgers who provided all the truly significant happenings within the first 30 minutes of the Green Bay Packers? 30-24 victory over the 49ers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
?We?ve been here a few times,? coach Mike Singletary said of the 49ers? inability to keep the game close in the first half. ?You have to play 60 minutes, and you have to start fast, whether you?re on the road or at home. We just have to learn to come out and be ready to go from the start.?
The 49ers (4-6) fell three games behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. They?re also two games behind NFC wildcard front-runners Green Bay, Philadelphia and the New York Giants with six games to play.
?Every loss means a lot,? 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. ?November and December is the time when you have to win and make that run. It kind of sets us back a little. What it does is it makes it harder for us to control our own destiny.?
The 49ers were completely overmatched in the first of Sunday?s game while falling behind 23-3.
The simple storyline was Rodgers? incredible first-half performance in juxtaposition to Smith?s struggles.
Rodgers and Smith are forever linked as the top two quarterbacks selected in the 2005 draft. The 49ers selected Smith with the No. 1 overall pick, while 23 teams passed over Rodgers before he landed with the Packers.
The Packers have now won seven consecutive games against the 49ers at Lambeau. But this is the first time in which Brett Favre was not the Packers? quarterback.
?It?s fun to play against a team that you idolized growing up and you watched every Sunday after church,? Rodgers said.
It was particularly enjoyable for Rodgers, a native of Chico, because he destroyed the 49ers? pass defense in the first half. He completed 22 of 31 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns through two quarters.
Smith, on the other hand, was hurried and looked harried. He completed just three of seven passing attempts for 5 yards. He was sacked three times for minus-12 yards, so the 49ers had an unfathomable negative-7 yards passing after two quarters.
?We came out, for whatever reason, apprehensive, cautious and kind of waiting for somebody to make a play,? Smith said. ?We really didn?t get going at all until the second half.?
The 49ers had just one first down in the first half.
In the second half, the 49ers went primarily with three wideouts and ran 28 of their 29 offensive plays from the shotgun formation. Smith finished with respectable numbers. He completed 16 of 33 passes for 227 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Rookie receiver Michael Crabtree caught his first NFL touchdown, as he out-jumped veteran cornerback Al Harris to come down with a 38-yard scoring pass midway through the third quarter. Crabtree finished with four catches for 77 yards.
Crabtree, who played exclusively in the spread offense at Texas Tech, expressed a preference for running more plays out of the spread formation.