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49ers cruise past the Packers, stay atop the NFC

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Santa Clara – The Forty-Niners surpassed one of their biggest hurdles with ease.  The anticipated matchup against the Green Bay Packers didn’t turn out to be as exciting as we thought.  In fact, the Packers went scoreless through the first half and held Aaron Rodgers to his lowest yards per attempt in his career as a starter.

The 49ers 37-8 victory over the Green Bay keeps them atop of the NFC with only one loss.  San Francisco’s top rated defense remains tough to handle.  Rodgers was sacked five times and went 10-for-20 for 41 yards in the first half alone.  On the Packer’s opening drive, Davante Adams was charged with a 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.  On the next play, Rodgers was sacked by Fred Warner and fumbled the ball. 

“Oh, it was a big tone setter,” said DL DeForest Buckner.  “We came out guns blazing.  That’s the kind of energy you want us to start off with, especially with a team like that.  For the offense to capitalize off of it, it was just a great start to the game.” 

Nick Bosa recovered the ball for 6 yards and that setup Tevin Coleman’s 2-yard touchdown.  Green Bay’s offense got completely shut down in the first half.  The Packers recorded five penalties for 50 yards which included Kevin King’s illegal use of hands (face mask).  That put the 49ers in good field position.  Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed up the middle for 25 yards, setting up Chase McLaughlin’s 29-yard field goal to extend San Francisco’s lead 10-0.  

“We just played our game,” Richard Sherman said.  “We just played disciplined football.  Our D-Line, they hunted and in the secondary, we just tried to play tight coverage.  We played a lot of man-to-man.  [Defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh called a lot of man-to-man today and we felt like that was the plan to try and stop the run and stop [Green Bay Packers RB] Aaron Jones.”

By the second, the Green Bay continued to struggle while the 49ers picked up the pace.  Jimmy Garoppolo connected with his favorite Tight End, George Kittle (who returned after missing 2 games) for 18 and 22 yards.  That setup McLaughlin’s second field goal for 27 yards making it a 13-0 game.  At the two-minute warning, Garoppolo handed off the ball to Deebo Samuel who took flight for a 42-yard touchdown extending San Francisco’s lead 20-0.  

“It was just an end breaking route,” said Samuel.  “When I see the ball, I take the ball.  When I turn the corner all I see is the end zone.  I was like, I got to get there.”

With seconds remaining on the clock, McLaughlin kicked a 48-yard field goal to make it a 23-0 game to end the half.  This game was a must win for the 49ers.  The team played great on all sides of the ball, leaving their performance tonight as one of the best of the season.  Their win keeps them in control of the NFC and home field advantage as we get closer to the playoffs.  

“We hurt ourselves again,” Adams said.  “We just keep putting ourselves in these tough positions.  When it’s third-and- forever or second-and-forever, it’s tough to comeback against a good team like that.  We just have to put ourselves in a better position in early downs.  

They’ve got some beasts up front.  It’s tough.  We still have to take care of business but they’ve got a really good team.  They’ve got a really good front and they’ve got some impact players but we still have to come up with a game plan to stop guys like that.  We didn’t do that today and that’s what it’s about.”

A poor performance by the packers left them dejected after their first turnover.  Rodgers never got into a good rhythm and after scoring in the third, they never got that opportunity again.  Due to a few San Francisco penalties, Green Bay saw a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel in the third quarter.  Rodgers connected with Jamaal Williams for 33 and 9 yards, putting them in the best field position all night.  Rodgers scrambled for 5 yards and a penalty on Richard Sherman for unnecessary roughness put the Packers on the goal line.  

Rodgers found Adams for the 2-yard touchdown making it a 23-6 game.  Green Bay went for the two-pint conversion to extend their lead to 23-8.  But San Francisco’s two-play drive was the nail the coffin.  Garoppolo connected with Kendrick Bourne for 14 yard pass.  Garoppolo then went deep to Kittle for a 61 yard touchdown making it a 30-8 game.  By the fourth Raheem Mostert rushed up the middle for a 15-yard touchdown making it a 37-8 game.

“Oh my, we’ve been running that since Week One, and I have to run it like two or three times a week,” said Kittle regarding his 61-yard touchdown.  “That’s like a 50-yard route every single time.  I’m just like, ‘Hey [San Francisco 49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan], relax.  I’m a tight end.’ We finally got the call and ran it, so that was pretty fun.  It’s just a corner post.  Perfect coverage to run it against.  Jimmy gave me a perfect ball and I had to unhitch the trailer and out-run a couple guys.  It was pretty fun.” 

The 49ers improve to 10-1 on the season, marking their best start through 11 games since 1997 (11-1).  San Francisco won their only game of the season against the NFC North.  The 49ers also won their first game on Sunday Night Football since 10/6/13 vs Houston (W, 34-3).  The team is now 3-1 in primetime matchups this season.

“We’re very well aware of how tight of a race it is, but it’s way too early to sit there and focus on it,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan.  “The way things are going, I’m sure that’ll be the last week that really is worth knowing what’s out there.  There’s a lot of football to play and a lot of games and a lot of good teams out there.” 

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Mahomes, Chiefs rally late to win Super Bowl LIV

Saskia Hatvany

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Miami – Three late touchdowns in the fourth quarter by the Kansas City Chiefs stunned the Forty-Niners in what was the best comeback victory in Super Bowl history.  The 49ers defense smothered the Chiefs offense in the third quarter, shut down in the fourth San Francisco appeared to have celebrated too soon.

Crucial mistakes this time proved costly as the 49ers suffered a tough 31-20 loss to Kansas City who are now the Super Bowl Champs for the first time in 50 years.  Patrick Mahomes was named the MVP after leading his team to victory. 

“I just tried to fight, and obviously the third quarter didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” said Maohmes.  “I tried to force some things and had some turnovers.  I mean, that’s a really good defense, and so I didn’t play to my liking in that third quarter, but guys believed in me and gave me confidence.  We kept fighting and we found ways to win it in the end.”

San Francisco had a good lead to start the second half.  But the Chiefs are known for their epic comebacks late in the game.  With 6:30 left on the clock, a pass interference called on Tarvarius Moore came after Mahomes went deep to Travis Kelce on a 43 yards pass.

That setup Kelce’s 1-yard touchdown making it a 20-17 game.  Unable to score on the next drive, Kansas City scored their second touchdown, Mahomes connected with Damien Williams for a 5-yard touchdown, that play gave the Chiefs their first lead of the night.  At the two-minute warning the 49ers had a chance to turn things around, but three incomplete passes followed with a sack on Jimmy Garoppolo on 4th down.

Kansas City got the ball back, Williams rushed for 4 yards before Kyle Shanahan took a timeout.  Williams then rushed for a 38-yard touchdown to secure the Chiefs win.  San Francisco’s offense and defense collapsed in the fourth quarter leaving the team dejected as Kansas City began to celebrate. 

“I think the turning point was when we got a turnover and then we didn’t execute on offense and they got the ball right back and drove 87 yards or however how far it was,” TE George Kittle said.  “As an offense, we have to end the game right there, and we didn’t.”

Garoppolo threw his second interception to end the game.  The 49ers registered two interceptions on the night, with Fred Warner and Moore each but against a dominant Chiefs defense it just wasn’t enough.  San Francisco finished the 2019 postseason with 5 interceptions, which is tied for the 4th most in a single postseason in franchise history.

The 49ers seemed to have everything under control until the six-minute mark in the fourth quarter.  Both teams scored and kicked a field goal to end the half tied at 10-10.  After Samuel rushed for 32 yards, Robbie Gould kicked a 38-yard field goal for a quick 3-0 lead.  

Mahomes scrambled for 2 yards in the red zone, then rushed in for a 1-yard touchdown making it a 7-3 game. By the second, Garoppolo’s pass intended for Samuel was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland.  That setup Harrison Butker’s 31-yard field goal to extend the Chiefs lead to 10-3.  

Garoppolo then connected with Samuel for 16 yards before San Francisco went to the running game, Raheem Mostert rushed for 11 yards and Tevin Coleman rushed for 17 yards.  Garoppolo found a wide-open Kyle Juszczyk who rushed into the end zone for 15-yard touchdown to tie the game 10-10.

To start the third Gould kicked a 42-yard field goal giving the 49ers a 13-10 lead.  After Mahomes pass was blocked by Nick Bosa, who almost forced a fumble, Mahomes went deep to Tyreek Hill but his pass was intercepted by Warner.  That setup Mostert’s 1-yard touchdown extending their lead 20-10.  San Francisco did not score again after that play.

“It definitely hurts, FB Juszczyk said.  “At the end of the day, that’s exactly the position we wanted to be in.  So, I think that makes it hurt a little bit more, but you couldn’t have asked to be in a better situation.”

Before the game, there was an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant and those who lost their lives in the helicopter crash last Sunday.  Both NFL teams lined up on the 24 yard line to honor all nine victims killed in that crash that included NBA great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant.  The NFL also honored their own, Hall of Famer Chris Dolan who lost his battle with Cancer.

Photos by Malaika Bobino

 

The NFL then honored 100 years in football with the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game along with defense, offense, coaches, dynasty teams and those who you might not remember but made an impact as well.

 

 

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The 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl after dominating the Packers 37-20

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Santa Clara – The 49ers have punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.  After a dominating first half, it was clear only one team showed up to play.  Raheem Mostert scored four touchdowns, San Francisco’s defense forced three turnovers and Richard Sherman’s interception in the final minutes was the icing on the cake.  The running game was unstoppable and the reward, a trip to Miami for Super Bowl Fifty-Four.

“Still surreal. You know, I just — I can’t believe that I’m in this position right now and I did the things that I did tonight,” said Mostert.  “And I would like to thank God first and foremost for blessing not only myself but everybody in the organization to be in the position that we’re in, to get the win and to move on to Miami, my home state.  And I can’t believe it.  I’m still being able to play at my home state.  This is so surreal right now.”

The 49ers 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers was well deserved.  A phenomenal season where the team went undefeated through eight games before they recorded their first lost to the Seattle Seahawks.  Now, they return to the Super Bowl after a rebuilding period during the Jim Harbaugh years.  Harbaugh took San Francisco to the Super Bowl back in 2012 where he lost 34-31 to his brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens. 

“This is like everybody coming to work,” T Joe Staley said.  “The attitude that everybody has every single day.  There are no egos.  Everybody generally pulls for each other.  No one cares about what credit that they get. [49ers QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] doesn’t care if he throws for 300 yards or what did he pass today for 50-60?  He doesn’t care and same with the running backs.  [49ers TE George] Kittle is a superstar and he could care less about his stats.  Top to bottom everybody just wants to pull for each other and win.  It is just a special bunch.”

A special bunch indeed, the chemistry on this team began in preseason and became stronger with each game.  Almost every game, the team gave it their all.  Tonight, the offense rushed for 285 yards and 4 touchdowns on 42 attempts.  The team’s 285 total rushing yards were the second most in postseason franchise history, and the 6th most by any team in the postseason since 1970.  

Mostert finished with 29 carries for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns, marking the first postseason rushing touchdowns of his career.  Mostert 220 rushing yards, set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a game, regular season or postseason.  HIs 220 rushing yards are the 2nd most in a postseason game in the Super Bowl era [LA Rams running back Eric Dickerson – 248 yards vs Dallas Cowboys (1/4/86 – NFC Divisional game)] and his 4 rushing touchdown are tied for 2nd most in a Super Bowl era.

“The lanes that we saw and the way he was running, just wanted to keep feeding him,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. Raheem is not someone who is going to come up and tell me a bunch during the game. I know he was feeling it and it wasn’t too hard to see.”

The 49ers got off to a rocky start after going with their running game on opening drive.  Tevin Coleman had 5 attempts for 17 yards but the Packers forced them to punt.  On the next drive, the 49ers went with their passing game before Jimmy Garoppolo handed off a pass to Mostert for a 36-yard touchdown.  Green Bay’s offense completely collapsed in the first, Nick Bosa recorded the first sack on Aaron Rodgers. 

“Not getting that first third down didn’t quite help for sure,” Rodgers said. “We just weren’t very consistent in the first half. I made a couple of mistakes, personally, that hurt us. We kind of let it get away from us.”

[On the botched snap] “It didn’t help. We could’ve cut that to two scores there at a minimum. It was like the fourth down snap the first time we played them. It was a big turning point.”

DeForest Buckner recovered Rodgers fumble and that led to Robbie Gould’s second field goal making it a 20-0 game to start the second quarter.  Another turnover proved costly for Green Bay.  Rodgers pass was intended for Geronimo Allison, but Emmanuel Mosley intercepted the ball.  With 50 seconds left on the clock, Mostert rushed for an 18-yard touchdown to end the half with the 49ers leading 27-0.

By the third, the Packers came alive with Rodgers connecting with Aaron Jones for a 9-yard touchdown.  Jones also rushed up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown giving Green Bay another scored run.  Rodgers then went deep in the fourth to Jimmy Graham for a 43-yard touchdown making it a 34-20 game.  But Green Bay couldn’t stop Mostert’s fourth touchdown  that extended San Francisco’s lead 34-7.  And Gould’s 42-yard field goal was the final score to cap off an outstanding victory.

“I think you go back to OTAs, man,” Said Buckner.  We all knew we could be a special group, a special team this year.  And just seeing the guys work, work through a lot of things from OTAs, to training camp and preseason.  The guys just fed off of each other, you know what I mean?  Offense, defense special teams, everybody.  We’ve got a lot of selfless guys playing for each other.  That’s the key ingredient being able to play for your brother next to you, no matter what happens.  Doesn’t matter who gets the stats or anything.  We’re just trying to go out there and win football games and I think we have a really special group.”

“Yeah, I mean we keep it fun,” Sherman said.  “We keep it loose.  There were a few people that came in our locker room for the first time throughout the week and they were like, ‘Man, this is the loosest locker room.’ You would think this is a winning team.  But, that’s the difference. That’s the difference when you’re confident, when you know what you’re playing for, when you know what you’re doing, when you’re locked in.  

You don’t have to sit there serious and worry and sit there with anxiety.  You can enjoy, let your hair down because you know you’re putting the work in.  You put the work in every single day and you’re prepared.  Now, when you’re not prepared and you’re nervous, you sit there locked in, quiet.  No music in the locker room.  Let’s be locked in.  But, that’s not our team.  We have a bunch of guys who enjoy this game and play it in a way that brings us a lot of joy, the receiving corps especially.  They’re a fun group and they’re enjoying the ride, but they’re still locked in.  They’re making huge plays.”

Super Bowl LIV is set for February 2, 2020 at 3:30 pm PST at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

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