Three Takeaways From the 49ers' 37-20 NFC Championship Win Against the Packers
For the first time since 2013, the San Francisco 49ers are one win from calling themselves a Super Bowl champion . Running back Raheem Mostert and the 49ers ran away from the Packers, defeating Green Bay 37-20 at Levi’s Stadium to win the NFC Championship.
The 49ers had control of this game from start-to-finish. There was a brief scare in the fourth quarter when the 49ers went conservative, but the lead never dropped to single digits. Overall, this game was a worse beat down for the Packers than in week 12. It just shows how well-prepared the 49ers were entering this game.
Being prepared is just one thing to takeaway from Sunday. Here are three takeaways from the 49ers' 37-20 win against the Packers.
This was Mostert’s Moment
Frank Gore, Garrison Hearst, Roger Craig and the Million Dollar Backfield are all cemented in 49ers’ history. Yet, none of those extremely accomplished running backs were able to do what Mostert did on Sunday.
Mostert, who made the roster due to his special team skills rather than ball carrying, proved to the world he is more than a gunner, rushing for a franchise playoff record 220 yards on 29 carries and four touchdowns. He was unstoppable.
The six-time released running back showed perfect speed and vision that the Packers simply could not handle. Mostert caught Green Bay’s safeties napping, as he exposed both rookie safety Darnell Savage and veteran Adrian Amos for touchdowns.
Even when the Packers knew the 49ers were going to run the ball (which was seemingly every play), Green Bay stood no chance. Mostert’s historic day not only put all the pressure on Aaron Rodgers, it took all the pressure off Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo threw just eight times, completing six for 77 yards. Those low numbers might alarm some people, but why throw when you average 6.8 yards per carry?
Mostert put the team on his back, and with the league’s best blockers leading the way, he carried the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
49ers' Receivers Put on a Blocking Clinic
A lot was made about the blocking by George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk and the San Francisco offensive line, and deservedly so, but wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne both made great blocks on Sunday.
With the ball, Samuel is one of the most violent runners in the NFL. He had 19 broken tackles coming into Sunday according to Pro Football Focus. Yes, he rattled off a few punishing blows on his 89 all-purpose yards (43 rushing yards and 46 receiving yards), but that wasn’t why he was so important on Sunday. The 49ers were on a mission to run the ball, and a rookie wide receiver’s incredible blocking was a big reason why they succeeded.
Samuel had multiple key blocks to free up Mostert, and although he doesn’t get any stats on ESPN for them, they were equally important to any of his catches or rushes. It’s hard to pinpoint who the best blocker is on the 49ers, but Samuel’s name should officially be added to that debate. Not to be outdone, Bourne made a key downfield block on Mostert’s third touchdown as well.
Wide receivers rarely get recognized for their blocking, and when they do, it’s usually after years in the NFL. Samuel and Bourne could have put their head down knowing their downfield sprints had no possibility of turning into touchdowns. Instead, the young players focused on the team, and created holes that helped win an NFC Championship.
Defense Wins Championships
It got a little leaky at the end, but the San Francisco’s defense played great. The 49ers ruined Rodgers’ night. The possibility of a State Farm big game quickly deteriorated as Rodgers had three fumbles, two picks and was sacked three times.
All three levels of the defense had great games. It took two late scoring drives, for Green Bay to raise its stats to a respectable level. Thanks to the offense’s success and the early defensive dominance, it made the Packers one-dimensional.
Running back Aaron Jones managed just 56 rushing yards. Rodgers was forced to throw 39 times, something he’s only done four times this season, and until the second half, didn’t look great doing it.
Both starting cornerbacks, Emmanuel Moseley and Richard Sherman, picked off the veteran QB, and nickel K’Waun Williams stripped Rodgers on a blitz. Yes, Davante Adams was able to do his thing, nine catches for 138 yards, but he was held out of the end zone.
When Green Bay needed quick scoring drives in the third quarter, the defensive backs remained disciplined and only allowed time-killing dinks, rather than game-changing dunks.
Overall, the Packers outgained the 49ers 358 to 354. Yet, San Francisco’s defense was able to do what Green Bay’s couldn’t: buckle down and stop momentum. It might not have been the most complete performance, but it was certainly a winning one.