The 49ers struggled on all three phases against the surging Packers, but Brock Purdy engineered a fourth-quarter comeback that produced a gutsy win to advance to the NFC Championship game.
There were arguably three or four games this season when the San Francisco 49ers simply didn't play well whatsoever: Christmas Day against the Baltimore Ravens, Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns... and now, the NFC divisional-round game against the Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay, entering the postseason dance as the No. 7 seed, nearly upset and eliminated the top-seeded Niners by virtue of quarterback Jordan Love outplaying quarterback Brock Purdy for almost three quarters, while head coach Matt LaFleur outcoached his close friend, head coach Kyle Shanahan for almost three quarters.
Except Purdy and the Niners put together a drive of drives to score a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give his team a 24-21 win, which advances the red and gold to the NFC Championship game for the third year in a row.
Brock Purdy, 49ers offense made many mistakes until the end
Shanahan got a bad break with wide receiver Deebo Samuel exiting at halftime with a shoulder injury, and he didn't return. But the head coach also deserves some blame for some bad play-calling on either side of the half, including not being aggressive enough prior to halftime, which resulted in kicker Jake Moody having a field-goal attempt blocked.
On the other side of the half, the Niners went 3-and-out, ending any chance of a Shanahan special to "lap" his opponent by scoring on either side of halftime.
Purdy, who struggled to hit his targets amid the wet and rainy conditions at Levi's Stadium, ultimately going 23-of-39 on the night for 252 yards, a touchdown against zero interceptions, all for an 86.7 passer rating.
Except for his final drive, Purdy was excellent by going 6-of-7, the only incomplete pass being a drop by tight end George Kittle.
All that led to All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey scoring that 6-yard go-ahead touchdown run with just over a minute remaining:
Interestingly enough, the defense had a similar trajectory of being outplayed for almost the first three quarters, only to turn things around late against Love and Co.
49ers defense couldn't contain Aaron Jones, struggled to pressure Jordan Love
Love was going to be a factor for Green Bay in the game, yes, but running back Aaron Jones was going to be a potential tone-setter, and he rushed for 108 yards and averaged 6 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, Love picked on cornerback Ambry Thomas, who had a couple of brutal defensive pass-interference calls, including one on a 3rd-and-15 that gave the Packers a fresh set of downs.
Can special teams be blamed here, too? How about Packers return specialist Keisean Nixon returning a kickoff for 73 yards, fumbling it, then watching Green Bay recover.
Making things worse, edges Nick Bosa and Chase Young combined for zero sacks, and no one else on San Francisco's defense got one either. However, the 49ers were able to rely on linebacker Dre Greenlaw picking off Love twice, including the game-sealing interception after the Niners took a late lead:
Thank you, Dre.
San Francisco played one of its worst games of the season, but it did something it hasn't done much at all in the Shanahan era: come from behind and pull off a win.
That's what happened on Saturday, which means the 49ers are off to the NFC Championship game for the third year in a row.