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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: 5 Takeaways from Divisional Round

The 49ers are a game away from making it to the Super Bowl as the 6th seed which was last achieved by the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

The San Francisco 49ers added color to their whirlwind season in frigid Green Bay weather to register a come from behind 13-10 victory. Here are the five takeaways from the road win.

The Choker

Aaron Rodgers made his first appearance in the postseason with the ambition of making it to the third straight NFC championship game. After the loss against the same opposition in the 2019 encounter, he suggested that the home game would be much different. Rodgers had the situation perfectly set up with sub-zero temperatures and a 49ers team on the road for third week in a row. The odds were stacked against the 49ers, the only remaining wild card team.

The Packers were unbeaten at Lambeau Field field this season and overall 22-2 under head coach Matt LaFleur. By the end of the night, Rodgers surrendered meekly to the team that did not draft him in 2005, with an abysmal postseason record now standing at 0-4. The 49ers defense had a stellar performance, but Rodgers failed miserably. Unlike the 49ers, the Packers are unable to win despite their quarterback.

The Clutch Gene

Jimmy Garoppolo threw only three times during the 1st quarter. The game plan was to run the ball as much as they could. After the initial drive by the Packers, the 49ers fell behind early in the game. The 49ers struggled to move the ball for the entire 1st half. Goerge Kittle dropped a possible touchdown, and all the receivers dropped the ball like a hot potato.

Then came the trademark brain freeze moment within the last seconds of the 1st half when Garoppolo got out of the pocket, evaded the rushing defenders and threw an interception.

Garoppolo tried to force the issue to put points on the board before halftime. Unfortunately, Garoppolo forgot his limitations as a quarterback. Once the 49ers special teams tied the game and defense stopped the ensuing drive by the Packers, Garoppolo had one last chance to redeem himself. Garoppolo did it as he often does by connecting with Kittle, and then Deebo finally took the 49ers in the field goal range for the win.

It is unbelievable that a quarterback as limited as Garoppolo is a single game away from making his second appearance in the Super Bowl in 3 years. Yet Garoppolo remains unscathed at mounting pressure from outside; just keep on delivering when the hell is about to break loose.

The "special" gift

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The 49ers special teams were primarily responsible for losing multiple games in 2020, which cost them a playoff berth. The struggle continued into 2021, and it became too bitter when they lost to the Seattle Seahawks.

The struggles crept throughout the season, but they have turned their fortunes around in the last few weeks. First, the veteran kicker Robbie Gould, who upgraded his kicking to platinum tier, kicked life-saving field goals. Then Jordan Willis shattered the Green Bay dreams of playing a home NFC championship game when he broke through the line to block a punt late in the 4th quarter.

For a few seconds, the television cameras lost sight of the football, and when it landed back from the heavens, Talanoa Hufanga put the dagger into the souls of Packer fans by taking it to the goal area untouched.

Special teams blocked the Green Bay field goal in the first half, which kept the game within reach. This performance should ease the nerves of the team heading into the championship game.

Deebo "MVP" Samuel

Cooper Kupp and then Jonathan Taylor lit the NFL this season, but none came close to the impact as a player to their respective teams as Deebo Samuel. Samuel single-handedly saved the 49er season from falling apart. The new acronym "wide-back" is the term used in his style of play. On Saturday night, Samuel put his body on the line to carry the team over the line. When Kyle Shanahan called a run play on third down needing 7 yards to make it within the field goal range, Samuel delivered as usual, then hobbled off the field.

Samuel is still in a rookie contract and is risking his career like a gladiator. Not only did he prove the doubters wrong regarding physical health by playing throughout the entire season, but Samuel is not done yet.

The great wall

The 49er defense melted like butter against Green Bay with 37 seconds left during the Week 3 game at Levis Stadium, which started the mini-collapse. The Packers started the game confidently with a touchdown drive and never repeated. They scored 31 points per game at the Lambeau field this season. Rodgers tried to connect with Davante Adams at every opportunity, but the stout defense held its own.

The pass-rushing core sacked Rodgers 5 times while Fred Warner forced a fumble. Arik Armstead continued to make havoc from the inside while Dre Greenlaw was a menace for the Packers offense. You do not need to check the stats to argue that this is the best defensive unit in football right now.

The unit goes as a pack to hunt together and shutdown high octane offenses each week. As stated earlier in the article, the 49ers can win without profound contribution from their highest-paid player on the roster, thanks to the defensive unit.