California Sports

San Francisco 49ers head to NFC Championship following 13-10 win against Green Bay Packers

The San Francisco 49ers have advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the second time in three seasons after defeating the Green Bay Packers with a wild 13-10 win in Saturday’s Divisional Round match.

Next, San Francisco will face the Los Angeles Rams after defeating Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC divisional game.

Relentlessly resilient

Following a dismal offensive effort, the Niners put together the drive they needed at the right time, with wide receiver Deebo Samuel taking a handoff nine yards for a first down on third-and-7 at Green Bay’s 38. As time expired, Samuel’s run set up place-kicker Robbie Gould’s winning 45-yard field goal.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity. We’ve dealt with a lot. We’ve lost games by making mistakes. We’ve won games dirty. This is a gritty team. It’s a salty team, and we just keep bouncing back,” the Niners’ tight end George Kittle said.

Over the last few months, that resilience has been on full display. To reach the playoffs, the Niners went 7-2 in their last nine games. This streak resulted in a 17-point comeback win over the Rams in the final week of the season, securing a playoff spot.

But Green Bay offered a unique obstacle, one that appeared to be too much for the 49ers to handle during most of Saturday. The Niners didn’t back down, as they have for the majority of the last few months.

“We find ways, whether it’s running, passing, defense stepping up big, special teams today,” 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stated. “That’s what makes a good football team. That’s what we are.”

Memorable victory

The Packers faced fourth-and-19 at their 12 with less than five minutes remaining. With a significant ankle sprain, the Niners’ defensive end Jordan Willis raced through the middle and stopped Corey Bojorquez’s punt.

The ball flew up in the air before touching down rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga, who picked it up and sprinted six yards for the touchdown. With 4:41 remaining, Gould’s extra point knotted the score at 10.

Niners cornerback Jimmie Ward blocked a field goal just before halftime to keep Green Bay from adding to its 7-0 lead in the first half. Later, Samuel returned a kick 45 yards for Gould’s first field goal. And Gould, who has never missed a field goal (20-for-20) or an extra point (32-of-32) in his playoff career, hit the game-winning field goal with only 10 Packers on the field.

It didn’t take long for the Packers to strike, at least on their first drive. On the bench after the 10-play, 69-yard drive with no third downs, Niners linebacker Fred Warner blasted his teammates.

Following that, the Packers scored three points on their remaining nine drives, totaling 263 yards, while the Niners tackled quarterback Aaron Rodgers five times and recovered a fumble.

Rodgers averaged 4.8 air yards per completion against the Niners, the second lowest in his postseason losses. He is now 0-4 in the playoffs against the Niners, the most losses without a win by a starting quarterback against a single opponent since 1950.

Apart from this Saturday’s loss, the 49ers had also previously beaten Aaron Rodgers’ Packers in the postseason in 2012, 2013, and most recently in 2019.

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (wikipedia)

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team based in the San Francisco Bay Area. (wikipedia)