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49ers Top Aaron Rodgers, Packers with Epic 4th-Quarter Rally to Reach NFC Title Game

Erin WalshJanuary 23, 2022

AP Photo/Aaron Gash

The San Francisco 49ers upset the Green Bay Packers 13-10 in the Divisional Round on Saturday at Lambeau Field and are heading back to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2019.

NFL @NFL

GOULD IS GOOD.<br><br>THE <a href="https://twitter.com/49ers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@49ERS</a> WIN IN LAMBEAU TO ADVANCE TO THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FTTB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FTTB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFLPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFLPlayoffs</a> <a href="https://t.co/7JouarMybq">pic.twitter.com/7JouarMybq</a>

It was a surprising loss for the Packers, who entered the contest as the NFC's No. 1 seed after finishing the regular season with a 13-4 record. However, the 49ers have been on a roll of late, entering the Divisional Round having won four of their last five games, including a wild-card win over the Dallas Cowboys. 

It wasn't a pretty win from San Francisco by any means, but the team's defensive performance, and some special teams miscues from Green Bay, helped the Niners clinch the win. 


Notable Stats

Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB: 20/29 for 225 YDS, 0 TD, 0 INT

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF: 11/19 for 131 YDS, 0 TD, 1 INT

Aaron Jones, RB, GB: 12 CAR for 41 YDS and 9 REC for 129 YDS

George Kittle, TE, SF: 4 REC for 63 YDS

Davante Adams, WR, GB: 9 REC for 90 YDS

Deebo Samuel, WR, SF: 3 REC for 44 YDS and 10 CAR for 39 YDS


Packers' Special Teams Hideous in Loss

The Packers' offense could've been better on Saturday, but Green Bay's special team's performance was significantly worse as it allowed a blocked punt returned for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to tie the game 10-10, in addition to a blocked field goal.

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

WHAT A HEADS UP PLAY BY THE ROOK <a href="https://twitter.com/TalanoaHufanga?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TalanoaHufanga</a> 🤙<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SFvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SFvsGB</a> on FOX/49ers App <a href="https://t.co/yzP6NAqWgW">pic.twitter.com/yzP6NAqWgW</a>

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

Numero Uno said NOPE!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SFvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SFvsGB</a> on FOX/49ers App <a href="https://t.co/Z0MSMluWp9">pic.twitter.com/Z0MSMluWp9</a>

The Packers also allowed 91 yards on three kick returns. And to make matters worse, it appears the team only had 10 men on the field for San Francisco's game-winning field goal, as noted by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. 

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

The NFL’s worst special teams unit turned in one of the worst special teams performances in NFL playoff history … and appears to have had only 10 men on the field for the winning field goal. <a href="https://t.co/bJvPtHYXkQ">pic.twitter.com/bJvPtHYXkQ</a>

The Packers entered Saturday's game with the worst special teams unit in the NFL. Sports Illustrated'sRick Gosselin ranked the team dead last in his annual special teams rankings for the 2021 season.

It was the second time in the last four seasons that the Packers were ranked the worst special teams unit by Gosselin. 

The Packers finished last in the NFL in punt coverage and kickoff starting point. The special teams unit also found itself in the bottom half of the league in nine other metrics, including bottom-five marks in kick return average, field goal percentage, punts inside the 20-yard line and in points scored.

The special teams struggles, which ultimately cost the team a berth in the NFC Championship Game, will have to be addressed this offseason. Green Bay simply can't continue to move forward with a unit this bad, so expect significant changes moving forward.


49ers Can Thank Defense for Win

San Francisco's defense played lights out against the Packers. And while the Niners benefitted from Green Bay's awful special teams' play, DeMeco Ryans' defense is also a major reason why the team is moving on to the NFC Championship Game. 

The defense limited Rodgers to just 225 yards and no touchdowns. The Packers veteran hadn't been held without a touchdown since a Week 10 win over the Seattle Seahawks, a testament to his excellence this season.

In addition, San Francisco forced a fumble and allowed the Packers to convert on just five of their 12 third-down attempts. 

However, we really should have seen this coming after San Francisco held the Cowboys to just 307 yards of total offense and forced a turnover in the NFC Wild Card Round last weekend. 

The 49ers defense has been strong all season, allowing just 206.5 passing yards per game (sixth-best mark). The team's rush defense was equally as good, allowing just 103.5 yards per game on the ground (seventh-best mark). 

With players like Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner, Emmanuel Moseley and Jaquiski Tartt, it should really come as no surprise that the 49ers defense balled out against the Packers. 

San Francisco will need an equally impressive performance from its defense in the NFC Championship Game, but that's not its biggest concern.

As the team prepares for a heavyweight matchup against either the Los Angeles Rams or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it will need to focus on getting its offense back up to speed after Garoppolo and Co. were held to just 212 yards of total offense on Saturday night.


What's Next?

The 49ers will move on to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game, while the Packers will begin preparing for the 2022 season, which could possibly be without Rodgers. 

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