GREEN BAY, Wisc. — Here’s how the sixth-seeded 49ers (12-7) scored in Saturday night’s 13-10 win over the highest-seeded Packers (13-5) in the NFC division playoffs:
Pass Violation: C+
Jimmy Garoppolo plays like an NBA game – just watch the last two minutes. Watch as he leads a late drive with accurate timing, like those completions to George Kittle (12 yards) and Deebo Samuel (14 yards) to set up Robbie Gould’s field goal. As for an ever-expected interception, it happened on the 4-yard line just before halftime, and he took responsibility for it in the postgame presser, after, yes, winning with 131 yards and a 57.1 passer rating. And how about Kittle, who overcomes an open field drop in the first quarter and finishes with a team-high four catches and 63 yards? Trent Williams suffered a serious ankle injury, but the line also made too many penalties and allowed four sacks in third place.
RUN VIOLATION: C
If the 49ers had lost, much of the focus would have been on Elijah Mitchell’s fourth-and-1 run, when he ran to the center for a 1-yard loss rather than following Williams to the right (a creative play previously worked on a third-and-1 conversion). The Packers loaded the box to avoid a repeat of the 2019 NFC Championship Game (285 rushing yards at the 49ers), so neither Mitchell (17 carries, 53 yards) nor Samuel (10 carries, 39 yards) could run amok . But they did, and it was Samuel’s 9-yard gain on third and 7 that brought the 49ers into Gould’s range for the winning kick. Shout out to Kyle Juszczyk, too, not only for his block, but for a 13-yard draw and then last carry before Gould delivered.
PASS DEFENSE: A
It turns out that the Packers’ opening drive wasn’t a harbinger of doom. That’s because the pass rush kept coming behind Aaron Rodgers (20-of-29, 225 yards), firing him five times. Arik Armstead appeared in the fourth quarter with arguably the two most important sacks of his 49ers tenure, both coming on third downs to keep the 49ers comeback within reach. Nick Bosa also fired Rodgers twice and the other came from Samson Ebukam. With Ambry Thomas scratched from the lineup, Dontae Johnson got the start, and as he left in the fourth quarter with a possible concussion, Josh Norman came in, unfinished with a pass aimed his way at Davante Adams. The 49ers didn’t intercept Rodgers by making him the first quarterback to lose four playoff starts against one team, but Fred Warner did force a second set of fumbles on a Marcedes Lewis catch, and Dre Greenlaw’s clumsy recovery left the attack by the Packers came to a halt. Rodgers passed just 55 yards in possibly the last half of his Packers tenure.
RUN DEFENSE: A-
The 49ers only gave up 61 rushing yards (20 carries), so bravo on that. The Packers didn’t exactly milk the clock with their lead, as Aaron Jones only got six passes in the second half. AJ Dillon’s 6-yard run on the first drive only fueled the 49ers’ defenses, prompting Warner to “light a fire” among his teammates, reminding them that although the Packers are a big attack , “we are a great defense.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: A+
Oh my gosh, this will go down in 49ers history as a legendary performance, with heroes galore. One is Jordan Willis, who blocked a kick in the fourth quarter by jumping through the long snapper and extending his left hand as he extended his entire six-foot-tall body (after last week’s high ankle sprain). Another is Talanoa Hufanga, who listens for the ball to bounce and then returns it for an tying touchdown. Of course there’s no victory if Robbie Gould doesn’t score a 45-yard field goal through the snow in 10-degree weather, which improved him to 20-for-20 on field goals after the season. Remember, Jimmie Ward blocked a Packers field goal when the first half was over, and kudos to Ward for crediting the embattled special teams coordinator, Richard Hightower, for giving him a clue where to play that game. had to attack.
Kyle Shanahan and his staff have taken the 49ers to their second NFC Championship Game in three seasons, taking sober wins in three consecutive elimination games. His attack, despite penalties and shaky moments, came through in the end. DeMeco Ryans’ defense, well, they may have ended the career of Rodgers’ Packers. And Hightower’s special teams made so many great moves, unlike the Packers’ worst NFL unit.