“It was a 17-point comeback that happened in the blink of an eye, after it seemed like the 49ers may never be able to get a stop.
After a season in which the 49ers never completed a comeback, they have now completed two-straight when it’s mattered most. Purdy has been at the center of them, with heroic drives that most expected he wouldn’t be able to complete.”
“What happened next was about 20 things all occurring in random synchronicity, full of rampaging 49ers momentum, increasingly wobbly responses by the Lions and thunderous energy flowing through Levi’s Stadium and presumably echoing throughout the solar system. What happened next was a third quarter that started slowly and methodically then kept speeding up and speeding up, clicking frantically from unlikely to possible, feasible, probable and finally inevitable, until the 49ers had outscored Detroit 17-0, tied the score and set up one of the most compelling victories in 49ers history, 34-31.
The third quarter was like watching Mike Tyson get off the canvas and just keep punching until it was over. It was the 49ers restoring their sense of themselves in the nick of time. Because if they lost like this, if they lost their third consecutive NFC Championship Game, could they even bear trying all this again next season and the season after that with all the same players and leaders?”
“This year’s 49ers are learning how to struggle and survive in grimy games. And they certainly know what they need to work on over the next two weeks to avenge their Super loss to the Chiefs.
Kittle said the way the last two games have gone “throws some gas on the fire as far as the sense of urgency.”
Said Bosa: “I think these two games — we got through them and now we kind of understand what needs to be done.”
“Once he returned to the locker room, he found it mostly emptied. He was greeted by the entire McCaffrey clan, sans Christian.
Lisa McCaffrey was the first to embrace him, after jokingly echoing, “Purdy to the podium!” as a wave of media followed the young quarterback out of the locker room and down the hall. Asked at his locker about his wounds, Purdy shrugged them off as an homage to McCaffrey, whose left elbow seems to be perpetually bloodied.”
“The 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan and Kansas City’s Andy Reid will become the fourth pair of head coaches to meet twice in a Super Bowl. And each team will have eight players who played in Super Bowl LIV.
The 49ers’ holdovers are defensive tackle Arik Armstead, pass rusher Nick Bosa, tight end George Kittle, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, punter Mitch Wishnowsky and linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.
The Chiefs have quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, defensive tackle Chris Jones, wide receiver Mecole Hardman, tight end Blake Bell, kicker Harrison Butker, guard Nick Allegretti and long snapper James Winchester.”
“No one was rah-rah, no one was freaking out,” said quarterback Brock Purdy, a notorious non-freaker-outter.
OK, maybe Bosa was freaking out.
“I was on the ground with the heat pack on my back, just screaming random things,” Bosa said. “Just trying to galvanize the group. There’s so much football left, we could score really quick on offense, we just needed to get off the field to get our offense rolling. Just trying to tell everyone, just do your job, that’s all we need to do.”
Whatever was said, a wimpy Clark Kent stepped into a phone booth under the grandstands at Levi’s, and emerged as Superman. Asses being kicked suddenly began kicking back.”
“Honestly, I just sat here and I looked and I’m thinking, ‘This would be my third time in 12 years getting his close,’” Gipson said. “I’d be lying if I said to you that doubt didn’t creep in. I’m human. It was unsettling.”
“We were confident, actually,” Williams said. “Knowing we were going to get the ball first, especially. The plays were there, we just weren’t making them. We have Aiyuk, Deebo, we know they’re eventually going to put their stamp on a game like this. Plus, [the Lions] threw their best punches in the first half. Trick plays, flea-flickers, all that. You knew eventually all that stuff would slow down and we’d be OK.”
They were right. The Niners outscored the Lions 17-0 and outgained them 170 yards to 42 in the third quarter. But the Lions also fumbled and dropped key passes on third and fourth downs.
“Just got to wait it out,” Williams said. “You play long enough, you stick to your plan, you do it the right way, things eventually turn your way.”
“The franchise that endured Roger Craig’s fumble, Kyle Williams’ fumbles, Richard Sherman’s pass breakup, Jaquiski Tartt’s dropped interception and Brock Purdy’s torn elbow ligament, among other calamities when they were one step from the Super Bowl, somehow avoided this: A loss to the Detroit Lions, a 7-point road underdog that hadn’t won a road playoff game since 1957.”
“Williams’ thought after witnessing The Fluke to Aiyuk?
“I was like … it’s supposed to be this way,” Williams said. “The football gods are smiling on us.”
“It helped that the 49ers’ defense continued to make crucial stops. With less than eight minutes left and his Lions trailing by three, Campbell eschewed a game-tying 48-yard field-goal attempt to go for it on fourth-and-three. His play call — a man-beating pass concept known as “mesh” — made sense given that the 49ers’ defense was in man coverage.
But at just the right moment, it switched to zone. Unable to find an open receiver, Goff scrambled left, throwing a pass a few yards short of receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Fighting back tears postgame, Campbell told reporters that he “just felt really good about us converting” and “wanted to get the upper hand back.” Few could blame him. Entering Sunday, the Lions were 17-for-20 — including 2-for-2 in the playoffs — when they went for it on fourth-and-3 or less in opponent territory.”
“The 49ers’ run defense got gashed in the first half, surrendering 148 yards and three touchdowns in the first 30 minutes of the game.
After halftime, the Lions managed just 34 yards rushing on eight carries.”
“The 49ers’ goal from the start of their offseason program was to make sure if they again advanced this deep into the postseason, they would not have to step on a plane to play.
Everything lined up for the 49ers this time around with the No. 1 seed in the NFC and come-from-behind victory over the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.
And the 49ers took care of business against the third-seeded Lions to advance to the organization’s eighth Super Bowl in franchise history.”