The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers 13-10 on Saturday Night, sending Kyle Shanahan and company to their 2nd conference championship in three seasons.
Good as Gould
Nearly a TD underdog at kickoff, the Niners defense, and special teams (yes, the special teams!) carried a stagnant offense to a walk-off victory after K Robbie Gould nailed a 45-yard field goal as time ran out.
QB Aaron Rodgers, who is likely going to win back-to-back MVP awards was held to zero TD's and 225 yards. After a promising opening drive which was capped by an HB AJ Dillion touchdown, the Packers' offense was squandered by an impressive Niners' defense led by All-Pros LB Fred Warner and DT Nick Bosa.
On a snowy, zero-degree night at Lambeau Field, every play mattered. In the end, special teams decided the game. The Niners and Packers finished the regular season with the 25th and 32nd ranked special teams by Sports Illustrated writer Rick Gosselin.
Shanahan, who was previously focused on his special teams unit "not losing" him the game, got a gritty performance from a group who struggled all year. They blocked two kicks, one of which was a punt which led to a Niners touchdown which tied the game at 10-10.
Packers HC Matt LeFleur was ultimately hosed by his special teams unit which was historically bad in 2021. It's unclear what Rodgers' future looks like with Green Bay and after a loss in the conference championship in 2020 and a divisional-round exit as the #1 seed this year, many speculate that Saturday was the last time we see Aaron Rodgers bear the green and yellow.
HC Kyle Shanahan has had the best three-week stretch of his football career. After beating the Rams in L.A to clinch a playoff spot to then beating the Cowboys and Packers on the road, the Niners are primed to make another Super Bowl run. After a 3-5 start to the season, Shanahan has righted the ship and has gritted his way to another conference championship.
The Niners will travel to Los Angeles for a Week 18 rematch vs. the Rams in the NFC Championship.