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49ers 13, Packers 10: Grades

The 49ers still won by scoring 13 points on special teams and playing Super Bowl caliber defense.

GREEN BAY -- The 49ers are back in the NFC Championship.

They just beat the No. 1 seeded Green Bay Packers 13-10 on the road in the snow. It was the 49ers third consecutive road game and they had just six days to prepare for it, as opposed to the Packers, who had two weeks.

And the 49ers still won by scoring 13 points on special teams and playing Super Bowl caliber defense. Unbelievable.

Here are the 49ers' grades for their last-second win over the Packers.


Once again, he was not the reason the 49ers won the game. Instead, as usual, he was the reason the game was so difficult. The Packers showed him zero respect, completely sold out to stop the run, and he couldn't make them pay. His quarterback rating was a grotesque 57.1, he scored no touchdowns and he threw a pick. To make matters worse, his interception came near the goalline when George Kittle was wide open. Garoppolo simply threw the ball late and got intercepted. That play should have been a touchdown. At worst, the 49ers should have kicked a field goal on that possession. Instead, Garoppolo cost them points. In this game, he threw multiple late passes to the flat that could have gotten intercepted. Sure, he made a couple nice throws, but every starting quarterback in the NFL can say that after a game. Garoppolo's negatives far outweigh his positives, and every week the 49ers have to climb out of the hole he digs for them. But they're really good climbers, because they have so much experience playing with Garoppolo. Bailing him out has become a weekly tradition. Eventually, though, he'll have to play well for the 49ers to win a Super Bowl. He hasn't played well since he injured his thumb in Tennessee.


I'm including Deebo Samuel in this group because he's more of a running back than a wide receiver these days. Today, he had 10 carries and just three catches. And the Packers did a great job of preventing Samuel from creating big plays -- his longest run was nine yards. But on 3rd and 7 with the game on the line, the Packers couldn't stop him. He gained 9 yards, and set up the game winning field goal. And now, the 49ers are 8-0 when he carries the ball at least six times. Elijah Mitchell also played well -- he gained 53 yards on 17 carries despite the Packers selling out to stop him.


Jauan Jennings caught one pass for six yards, and Brandon Aiyuk got one target, dropped it and never saw another pass. Passing to the outside was a losing strategy for Garoppolo and the 49ers in this game.


George Kittle led the 49ers with four catches and 63 receiving yards. He also dropped a pass early in the game that would have been a long gain. Stilll, he is one of the few players who consistently allows the 49ers to overcome their quarterback.


They battled in the run game, but gave up four sacks. Perhaps they would have given up fewer if Garoppolo could move better.

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Arik Armstead had two sacks, Nick Bosa had two as well and Samson Ebukam had one. This pass rush seems just as good as it was in 2019 when the 49ers went to the Super Bowl. Armstead in particular is on fire.


Fred Warner stripped the ball from Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis and Dre Greenlaw recovered it. That was on the Packers second drive. Their offense never found its rhythm again.


Jimmie Ward gave up the only big play of the night for the 49ers -- a 75-yard completion to running back Aaron Jones -- but made up for this mistake on special teams by blocking a kick. More on that below.


The 49ers held Davante Adams to just 90 yards despite Ambry Thomas missing the game with a bone bruise in his knee, and Dontae Johnson leaving the game temporarily with an injury. Which means Josh Norman played, and actually did well. What a shocker.


The 49ers won two phases of this game -- defense and special teams -- and that's why they advanced. Robbie Gould made both of his field goal attempts, including a game-winning 45-yarder as time expired. Ward blocked a field goal that would have given Green Bay a two-score lead before halftime. Then in the fourth quarter, Jordan Willis blocked a punt, Talanoa Hufanga recovered it and returned it for a touchdown. Which means special teams scored 13 points and prevented the Packers from scoring 3. Every member of the special teams deserves a game ball, including coach Richard Hightower. They just eliminated Aaron Rodgers on his field.


Hightower and DeMeco Ryans get A-pluses. Ryans in particular made brilliant adjustments on the sideline after the Packers' first drive to shut down Davante Adams. Ryans is so freaking good.

Kyle Shanahan struggled. He called 23 passes -- a strangely high number considering his running game was working, it was snowing, it was a tight game and his quarterback is injured and mistake prone. And on a key fourth and 1 in the red zone during the fourth quarter, he called the same run play he called earlier in the game -- a run with Trent Williams in motion as the lead blocker. The second time the 49ers ran this, it fooled no one and they turned the ball over on downs.

Shanahan's best call was his final one, when he called a run for Samuel on 3rd and 7. He originally called a pass, which would have been a mistake, but then changed his mind, used a timeout and called the correct play. This redeemed his night. Next week, maybe he can rise to the level of his coordinators.