Both the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers made it to the NFC Championship Game. This, after recording equal 13-3 records during the 2019 NFL season. However, only one team will be playing in Super Bowl LIV. San Francisco managed to get the 37-20 win and punch their ticket to the big game. Here is the full Packers @ 49ers NFC Championship recap.
The major deciding factor of this contest was the 49ers running attack. On the game’s opening drive, the Packers actually held Tevin Coleman for no gain on 3rd-and-1. Kenny Clark, B.J. Goodson, and Za’Darius Smith all got off their blocks and rallied to stop the running back from reaching the line to gain. This forced an early San Francisco punt. However, Green Bay did not fare any better on their first possession, as they only gained one 1st-down before kicking back to the 49ers.
On his team’s 2nd drive, Deebo Samuel got things going by taking a short pass for the initial 1st-down. Kevin King had a chance to stop him short of the line to gain, but he missed his tackle. Two plays later, Samuel caught a 30-yard pass by finding the open spot in the Packers zone.
For this possession, Kyle Shanahan turned to Raheem Mostert to run the football. He only received 3 rushing attempts on this drive, but he made them all count. His third carry, in particular, was quite impressive. Mostert cut through Green Bay’s swiss cheese defense for a 36-yard touchdown. Missed tackles again played a part as Preston Smith whiffed on his chance to take Mostert down in the backfield. Instead, Mostert sprinted downfield and blew right past Darnell Savage to give his team a 7-0 lead.
After that first score, the Packers punt twice. Both drive combined for -7 yards. On one play, Nick Bosa beat a typically stout David Bakhtiari one-on-one to for a 13-yard sack. DeForest Buckner also handed Elgton Jenkins was able to prevent Aaron Rodgers from escaping. Bosa got the quarterback on his back for the 3rd-down sack.
The 49ers finished the 1st quarter with a quick drive leading to a 54-yard field goal attempt. Robbie Gould came up clutch in this big moment and gave San Francisco a 10-0 lead.
After getting the ball back, the Packers continued to go backwards. This time, Aaron Rodgers fumbled on a 3rd-down pressure from K’Waun Williams. Billy Turner did recover the football, but Green Bay still had to punt.
Run Raheem Run
During the 2nd quarter, the 49ers really began to pile up the points. The score became 17-0 after a 6 play drive that consisted only of rushing attempts. This really set the tone for the rest of the game. Not even a Tevin Coleman injury could sway San Francisco from their ground-and-pound game plan. With his teammate unable to finish the game, Raheem Mostert took it upon himself to lead the 49ers to victory. Imidietly after Coleman left the field, Mostert ran in his second score of the game. His speed and decisiveness at the point of attack made it very difficult for Packers defenders. The usually sure-tackling Blake Martinez was unable to get a hand on Mostert as he got around the corner and into the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.
Massive credit goes to the San Francisco offensive linemen who were constantly opening up holes for Mostert to run through. This allowed the running back to score 4 times in this game. Even more impressive was the 220 rushing yards that Mostert produced, the 2nd-most by a player in any NFL Playoff game.
Down by three scores, Green Bay finally found footing. Aaron Rodgers hit Jake Kumerow downfield for a 23-yard play. While the 49ers brought the blitz on this 1st-down, Aaron Jones did a great job of picking it up and giving his quarterback time to throw. Jones then gained a pair of 1st-downs of his own with his legs. Taking a page out of the 49ers playbook, Matt LaFleur called 4 straight rushing attempts. Jones did his part and produced 27 yards on those 4 runs.
Now set up at their opponent’s 25-yard line, Green Bay looked to be in business. That is until Corey Linsley fumbled a snap. While this turnover is credited to Rodgers, he never got a hand on the football. It was an unusual sight as Linsley is typically excellent at that aspect of the game. Where he struggled this season was with offensive line calls and identifying pass-rushing threats.
Regardless of who is to blame, the result was the same. A promising Packers drive that ended in a turnover. Even a field goal would be welcomed as it would have cut it down to a two-score game.
The 49ers managed to put points off of their takeaway. Mostert broke off a 34-yard run as the San Francisco offensive line continued to dominate. The Packers defense did prevent a touchdown, but Robbie Gould was able to extend the lead to 20-0.
The turnover trouble continued on the Packers 2-minute drive. With a last chance to score before halftime on the line, Aaron Rodgers threw an interception. Geronimo Allison appeared to be open up the seam. Instead of putting the pass in front of his receiver, Rodgers threw it slightly behind. This allowed Emmanuel Mosely, who had outside leverage, to uncut the route and pick off the pass. It is unusual to see Rodgers miss on such a crucial pass attempt. This came only 3 plays after completing a beautiful 19-yard dart to Allen Lazard.
Instead of Green Bay getting a chance to eat into the deficit, the 49ers regained possession of the ball with an eye on extending their lead. As had been the case all contest, Raheem Mostert provided the plays and capped off this short drive with a 19-yard touchdown.
It happened so quickly, that the Packers actually got to possess the football one last time in the 2nd quarter. Nothing would come of this drive, as Green Bay punted to end the half down 27-0.
Perhaps the only aspect of the Green Bay offense that seemed to be working was when they were operating in hurry-up mode. In no-huddle, Matt LaFleur was able to keep San Francisco’s defense off balance. Aaron Rodgers also corrected the mistake of only targeting Davante Adams once in the first half. The Packers opened the second half with 3 straight pass attempts to their top receiver. Adams hauled in 2 of them for 30 yards.
Also on this drive, Aaron Jones converted his team’s first 3rd-down of the game with a short reception on 3rd-and-4. The Packers offensive line finally had their moment by blocking for Jones on a screen pass in the red zone. Corey Linsley and Billy Turner cleared a path for Jones to speed towards the end zone.
Finally on the board, Green Bay still trailed 27-7. The 49ers certainly did no favors for their opponent. Raheem Mostert continued his monster performance with his 4th touchdown of the game. Just as momentum seemed to sway in the Packers direction, it became a 34-7 game.
Green Bay actually scored on their first three drives of the second half. The fourth and final Moster touchdown complicated things, but the Packers still had hope. Several receivers came up with some important plays. First, Allen Lazard caught a key pass on 4th-and-2 just past midfield. It was a great design by Matt LaFleur as Jones was motioned out to the right slot to draw defenders to his side. Meanwhile, Lazard, operating out of the left slot, ran a slant route against K’Waun Williams and came up with the catch to keep the game alive.
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Next, Jimmy Graham got open in the 49ers zone defense and hauled in a 34-yard bomb from Rodgers. This set up the team on the 1-yard line. Jones then punched in his second touchdown of the game. With the failed 2-point conversion, the score became 34-13.
The only problem with those two scoring drives was that they took up combined 11-and-a-half minutes of game clock. The Packers defense desperately needed a stop. For the second week in a row, Preston Smith came up with a key 3rd-down play. Instead of a sack, Smith prevented Mostert from gaining a 1st-down and forced the 49ers to punt.
Green Bay was fully in hurry-up mode. Rodgers made arguably his best throw of the season, as he hucked it up for his most trusted target. Adams managed to get open against Richard Sherman and Rodgers found him for the 65-yard play. The ball traveled over 50 yards in the air and the Packers were well set up.
Four plays later, Rodgers on a trademarked red zone scramble found Jace Sternberger at the back of the end zone. The rookie demonstrated good instinct by not only following Rodgers’ movements and getting open but also catching the first touchdown pass of his career. Credit also goes to the Packers offensive line. Bryan Bulaga, in particular, did a great job of blocking Arik Armstead one-on-one on the edge which allowed Rodgers to get out of the pocket.
It suddenly became a two-score game at 34-20. What San Francisco needed was to hold the football and kill as much clock as possible. Not only did they succeed, but the 49ers even managed in extending their lead with another Robbie Gould field goal. While not asked to do much, Jimmy Garoppolo found a moment to shine and found George Kittle for a 1st-down reception. The 19-yard pass may have been Garoppolo’s best play, as he saw Kittle on the crossing route covered one-on-one against Will Redmond. The defensive back was in the game due to injuries to both Jaire Alexander and Adrian Amos.
Once Gould made that final field goal, the score was 37-20. Less than 3-and-a-half-minutes remained on the clock, so scoring three times seemed impossible.
Sensing he needed several miracle plays, Rodgers went deep to Davante Adams again. Only thing time, Richard Sherman was not fooled. He got over the top of Adams and made a great diving catch for the football. Sherman came up with the interception and essentially ended the game.
A few kneel downs later, and the San Francisco 49ers walked off the field victorious. The Green Bay Packers lost this NFC Championship game 37-20. While they deserve credit for eating into a 27-0 deficit, they ultimately came up short in their Super Bowl conquest. Still, a 13-3 record and a final four appearance should be considered a massive success for head coach Matt LaFleur in his first season in charge of the Pack.
The 49ers head to the big game to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. Who will emerge as this season’s NFL champion? We will find out soon.