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49ers escape from Levi’s Stadium with a 24-21 win in a wild one over the Packers

What a game!

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers took the opening drive and marched 14 plays down the field while possessing the ball for over seven and a half minutes. Green Bay converted three third downs, with one aided by an Ambry Thomas defensive pass interference call.

Romeo Doubs is the Packers’ most-targeted wideout and has figured to be a prominent part of the offense. On 3rd & 8, Charvarius Ward got the best of Doubs for a pass breakup, which forced the Packers to settle for a field goal. Doubs would end up getting Ward on the ensuing drive for an explosive play after Ward slipped.

The first two drives for the 49ers defense were sloppy, to say the least. Despite being the beneficiary of an ineligible lineman downfield, the defense still allowed the Packers near the red zone. Tashaun Gipson committed a defensive pass interference. Tight end Tucker Kraft picked up a first down on a screen pass. Then, on 2nd & 11, the backup running back gained 11 yards after it appeared that Chase Young crashed inside instead of setting the edge.

It appeared that Packers quarterback Jordan Love picked up the first down on a quarterback sneak on 4th & 1, but Arik Armstead made his presence felt by firing off the ball; Nick Bosa got in on the action, and Dre Greenlaw’s hit caused Love to come up short, giving the defense a much-needed stop.

So, after two possessions, the Packers ran 24 plays and only scored three points. You can’t ask for much more than that in the playoffs.

We all have higher expectations for the offense. We assume that they’ll score every time. Deebo Samuel was involved early but jogged off the field early in the second quarter. This was after he left and was cleared to return for a head injury.

The first drive didn’t go as planned. Jon Feliciano started for Spencer Burford at right guard, but it was Aaron Banks who had a false start. Purdy hit a Packers defender in between the numbers, but he dropped it. On 3rd & 6, Purdy was sacked, but it wasn’t due to the offensive line.

The second drive looked like a team we were more accustomed to seeing. Christian McCaffrey had one carry on the first drive. He had six on the second drive. Purdy found Jauan Jennings and Brandon Aiyuk for double-digit gains.

Then, on 3rd & 5, Purdy found George Kittle streaking down the middle, running across the field. It was a perfect pass, as Kittle didn’t have to break stride, and it was a much-needed score for the offense.

They’d need the points, as Green Bay did not struggle to move the ball. The Packers had their third drive in a row of 10+ plays. Love found Jayden Reed on the first play for 27 yards. On 3rd & 7, Doubs beat Thomas again badly for a gain of 22 yards. The one thing you can’t do is give up explosive plays. You must make an offense methodically drive the field.

Greenlaw made a play on second down in the backfield, and Javon Hargrave pressured Love on third down to force another field goal to make the score 7-6.

San Francisco’s third possession of the half would be their last. The good news is that they had an 11-play drive that ate up four minutes. The bad news is that Jake Moody’s kick was blocked, and Kyle Shanahan had made up his mind that he was going to settle for a field goal.

The offense only ran five plays after the two-minute warning. They took 40 seconds in between the first two plays. Yes, you want to ensure the Packers don’t get the ball again. But think about how efficient this unit has been throwing the ball all year. Shanahan assumed that he’d get three points and paid for it.

The 49ers had three possessions in the third quarter and went three-and-out on two of them, totaling 11 yards. Sandwiched in between those were three scores, but two of them came by the Packers.

Green Bay’s first score came on a 9-play drive that went 75 yards. Ambry Thomas was again the culprit, as he committed an inexplicable pass interference on 3rd & 15. Love found Bo Melton wide-open in the end zone after Tashaun Gipson slipped.

After Kittle had a big gain and McCaffrey exploded for a 39-yard touchdown run, the special teams unit gave up a 73-yard kick return. The returner fumbled, but the Packers recovered the ball. Their two-point conversion was successful, and the Niners trailed 21-14.

The Packers had an opportunity to ice the game away. At midfield, on third down, Love threw an errant pass, and Dre Greenlaw was there to save the day. The 49ers had the ball at midfield with an opportunity to tie the game.

Brandon Aiyuk, who had been quiet, came up with a critical third-down reception to move the chains. Purdy was off-target on a few throws and missed McCaffrey and Kittle on the drive. Back-to-back incompletions put the offense in another 3rd & 10 situation.

Purdy climbed the pocket right into the rush of Green Bay, which forced another Moody attempt. Jake’s kick was good, which cut the lead to 21-17.

The Niners defense did their job and forced a three-and-out. Purdy found Jauan Jennings on a beautifully layered throw over the middle to Jennings for a gain of 21 on 3rd & 10. But he was shaky on a few throws during the drive, which didn’t stop on the following 3rd & 10. Ray-Ray McCloud, with Deebo out, got open deep. However, Purdy airmailed the throw and missed woefully.

Thankfully, the Packers’ rookie kicker, who had missed more kicks than anybody all year, blew it from 41 yards out, and the Niners had life.

The lights looked too bright for Purdy on the last drive. They were anything but on the final drive. Purdy completed 6-of-7 passes, with the one incompletion a drop by Kittle. Aiyuk came up with a big-time catch on 3rd & 5 in traffic. Of all people, Chris Conley ran a masterful route for a gain of 17.

Christian McCaffrey’s touchdown gave the 49ers the lead, and the defense just needed one stop. Just one.

Who else but Dre Greenlaw would come up with that stop? He had his second interception of the game, and the 49ers escaped what would’ve been one of the biggest upsets in recent NFL history.