SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

49ers complete comeback over Packers in wet & wild NFC Divisional Round

Jan 20, 2024, 11:00 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2024, 2:52 pm

Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with teammates after scoring a 6-yard...

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

49ers-Packers playoff edition always promises to be eventful, and that was definitely the case Saturday night.

Against all odds, the San Francisco 49ers completed a miraculous comeback against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Round, winning the game 24-21. Trailing for most of the second half, the Red & Gold had to dig deep to pull out the win. But in the end, Brock Purdy had a clutch moment, and so did the 49ers’ defense to punch their ticket to the NFC Conference Championship.

Here’s what happened.

The 49ers started off sluggish against the Packers, allowing a 14-play-drive on the opening possession. Quarterback Jordan Love and running back Aaron Jones got it going for Green Bay, marching down the field with ease. Then, San Francisco started getting called for penalties, as cornerback Ambry Thomas was flagged for pass interference to put GB inside the redzone.

The 49ers stool tall from there, forcing a fourth down after CB Charvarius Ward got a pass break-up in the endzone. On came kicker Anders Carlson, putting it through the uprights from 29 yards away.

3-0 to the visitors after a 7:38 drive.

On the flip side, the 49ers’ offense couldn’t get much going. In fact, San Francisco only had the ball for five plays in the first half, as QB Brock Purdy & Co. were just not in rhythm.

Luckily, their defense came up big to help them out. After allowing ten plays to the Packers on the next drive, SF dropped Jones on third down for no gain. Wanting to go hurry-up, Love went for the QB sneak, getting stuffed by defensive lineman Arik Armstead and linebacker Dre Greenlaw for a turnover on downs at the 49ers’ 14-yard-line.

The offense capitalized on the turnover by getting their first score of the game next.

Purdy & Co. marched down the field on a 12-play drive, using a mixture of run and pass to get into good field position. Then, Purdy uncorked a 32-yard laser to tight and George Kittle on the run. The pass hit Kittle in-stride for six to give the 49ers the lead, 7-3.

Green Bay wasn’t going away however, able to work back into field-goal range on the next drive. Love was able to find receivers on third down, including WR Romeo Doubs for 22 yards on third and long. But when it came down to a goal-line stand, the 49ers came through, forcing another FG try.

7-6 in favor of the 49ers with more than four minutes left in the half.

San Francisco had a chance to lap the Packers to close the first half, but fell on their face sadly. After going 11 plays to drain the clock, K Jake Moody came on for a 52-yard try. The kick didn’t make it to the endzone however, blocked by Green Bay to close the half at 7-6.

Additionally, SF lost wide receiver Deebo Samuel early in the game.

Initially, the wideout was dealing a head injury, cleared of that after a check-up with team doctors. Then, he suffered a shoulder injury that forced him out off the game, leaving for the locker room prior to halftime.

The 49ers were down a dominant playmaker in poor conditions the rest of the way.

San Francisco’s offense started the second half the same way they did the first: Flat. Instead of lapping Green Bay, the 49ers went three and out to start the second half.

Not ideal.

On the flip side, Green Bay’s offense was wheeling and dealing, going on a nine-play drive to the endzone. The Packers were helped out by a PI call on Thomas, giving up a 61-yard spot foul to the visitors.

The Packers took advantage from there, with Love converting a 19-yard TD pass to WR Bo Melton.

13-7 Green Bay.

San Francisco anserwed right back though, with two big plays.

First, Purdy hit Kittle on short crossing route. The TE broke free of a tackle, running along the right sideline for 32 yards. Then, running back Christian McCaffrey finally got loose, making Packers miss on the way to a 39-yard score.

14-13 49ers, just like that.

Green Bay answered that score as well, set up by a big kick return out of the gate. Now inside the 49ers’ redzone, GB found paydirt in four plays, eventually hitting TE Tucker Kraft from two yards out. The Packers went for the two-point conversion as well, getting it with Jones to make the score 21-14.

SF’s offense couldn’t do anything after that, forced to punt it away.

But once again, the 49ers’ defense came to play with a big interception. Love misfired on a third-and-long throw, with the pass coming off Kraft’s hands for linebacker Dre Greenlaw. The 49ers had the ball back at the 2:18 mark of the third quarter.

But once more, Purdy and Co. struggled, settling for three points at the start of the fourth quarter.

21-17 with less than 15 minutes to go.

SF’s defense showed up on the next series as well, forcing a three and out for Love and the Packers. Unfortunately, the 49ers couldn’t capitalize, going eight plays before putting it away with 9:37 remaining.

Then, Aaron Jones woke up again. The star ballcarrier opened the drive with a 53-yards scamper to the other side of the field, putting them within striking distance of icing the contest. To their credit though, the 49ers defense stood tall again, pressuring Love into an incomplete pass on third down.

On came Carlson for the 41-yard kick, this time missing it wide left.

The 49ers had life with 6:18 remaining in the game.

And just when all hope had seemed lost for the offense, Brock Purdy came up clutch.

The young gunslinger went 6/7 for 47 yards on the final drive, hitting his pass catchers for big pickups. But it was his legs that got them near the goal-line, scrambling for nine yards. A play later, McCaffrey punched it in for six.

24-21 49ers with 67 seconds remaining.

The game came down to one final drive for the Red & Gold defense in the rain. And they delivered.

Forcing Love into a third and long, the young QB tried to buy time to his right. But with no options, he heaved it across his body into the middle of the field. Greenlaw saw the ball and made a play, picking it off to ice the contest.

Ballgame.

The San Francisco 49ers advance to their third consecutive NFC Conference Championship game, and fourth in five seasons. And while it wasn’t pretty whatsoever, Purdy and the defense made clutch plays when it matter the most.

“I thought that was as big of a mental challenge and just a character game as any game I’ve been a part of,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said postgame. “I couldn’t be more proud of the people in there and just how they persevered.”

Shanahan’s 49ers had been 0-30 when trailing by five or more points entering the fourth quarter, now scratching that monkey off their back as well.

The 49ers will have an extra day of rest before getting ready to play the winner of Buccaneers-Lions next weekend at home.

Upcoming schedule for the San Francisco 49ers 

  • January 28th – vs. Buccaneers/Lions (NFC Conference Championship)

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