The 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the Tennessee Titans earlier Sunday 35-34. We’ll get more into predictions and breaking down the Chiefs later right now it’s not just the 49ers beating the Packers, but how they beat the Packers. The 49ers allowed nothing in the first half going up 27-0. Then, when the Packers began trying to get into this football game, the 49ers...kept doing what worked: Two words Raheem Mostert. The Packers did manage to get 21 unanswered points when the 49ers defense went into prevent, but despite some head scratching play, this was the 49ers all the time.
The San Francisco 49ers opening drive looked promising after Tevin Coleman ran four gains of five and four to start the game, but was stuffed on third and inches to force a punt. The Green Bay Packers had a third and short of their own on the opening drive, but Dre Greenlaw made a nice play to prevent the first down. The next drive looked more like Niners football. Deebo Samuel has heavily involved generally good things happen. Raheem Mostert raced 36-yards on a third down to score, and that made it 7-0, good guys.
The Packers were going to regret punting the ball on that short-yardage play on the first possession. On the following drive, Nick Bosa whipped his man on second down, then sacked Aaron Rodgers on the next drive. A 48-yard return by Richie James only resulted in a field goal after Jimmy Garoppolo missed Emmanuel Sanders on one throw, then took a sack where he has to throw the ball away on the next play. Robbie Gould booted a 54-yard field goal.
The 49ers defense attacked once again on the following drive after K’Waun Williams blitzed and was 1-on-1 with Billy Turner, a guy we highlighted the 49ers to take advantage of, for a strip-sack. The pressure was getting the best of the Packers early on. That punt was followed by another touchdown run by Mostert. Before scoring, Coleman injured his shoulder and was questionable to return. Coleman can rest up, as Mostert was running all over the Packers. With over four minutes left in the second quarter, he had nine carries for 119 yards. The offensive line deserves credit, but Mostert’s speed was too much to handle.
Rodgers fumbled a snap that led to another field goal to make it 20-0. The one thing the 49ers couldn’t do was let Green Bay score before the half. Emmanuel Moseley had other intentions as he stepped in front of an errant Rodgers pass for an interception. Mostert scored another touchdown to make it 27-0, and that took us to halftime.
The Packers scored on their first possession of the second half, but it took six minutes off the clock. It didn’t take the Niners long to match that score, and it was 34-7 before you could blink. The offensive line was terrific all game, and Mostert surfed his way through the defense for another score from 22-yards out. Another Packers score made it 34-13, but the two-point conversion was stopped by Moseley. Green Bay attempted an onside kick, but San Francisco was ready. The playoff rushing record was 248 by Eric Dickerson. Mostert had 205 after the 49ers didn’t score on that drive, but I was wondering if Shanahan would give him the record.
Two separate occasions, Shanahan punted the ball on 4th & 1. In the fourth quarter, it came back to cost the 49ers as the Packers scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to make it 34-20. Again, with the game flow and the way you were running the ball all game, the odds that you gain a yard is greater than your defense preventing Green Bay from getting to the 40-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Shanahan comes out throwing, and Jimmy G hits George Kittle for the first time all game for a gain of 18 yards. San Francisco was so dominant they didn’t target Kittle all game. Garoppolo only had six attempts with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, because the ground game was rolling. The Niners needed to move the chains, and the way their four-minute offense has performed, there wasn’t much of a doubt the offense would get a few first downs. Gould kicked a field goal to make it 37-20 with just over three minutes to go. A three-possession game was big-time.
The Packers got the ball back with just under 3:00 to go, but the 49ers defense took the foam off the clamps and bit down, sacking Aaron Rodgers (and making a fumble) on second down and forcing a 4th and long just before the 2 minute warning. By then, it was all but over. Rodgers managed to get some passes for first downs, but they were just past the markers and not enough to overcome 17 points with two minutes and no time outs. The play that sealed it was a Richard Sherman interception on a deep Aaron Rodgers throw that ended everything.
The big question is on Jimmy Garoppolo. Kyle Shanahan didn’t go to him at all and it seemed like Garoppolo had a night off. Last week, we could say that it was because the 49ers didn’t need to run. This week, the 49ers really could have used some basic pass plays that weren’t dangerous and they almost stubbornly kept going to Raheem Mostert. The 49ers won, but that won’t beat Kansas City. There was a feeling of dread that the Packers were finding their way back into this after each touchdown.
For now, let’s not worry about that. The 49ers are back in the big game and all is right with the world.