A series of untimely special teams mistakes undid the top-seeded Packers and Niners kicker Robbie Gould nailed a 45-yard field goal as time expired to clinch the 13-10 victory. San Francisco advance to the conference championship game with the win, while Green Bay stumbled out of the playoffs short of a Super Bowl once again.
The 49ers special teams unit certainly seemed to win the day for San Francisco. The Niners blocked a field goal at the end of the first half and then blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to tie the game up at 10-10.
Although San Francisco's special teams was more than worthy of praise, NFL legend Kurt Warner suggested that another one of the team's units deserved some props: the defense.
"DeMeco Ryans, the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, had Aaron Rodgers confused all night long," Warner said on
"DeMeco Ryans and the San Francisco 49ers had Aaron Rodgers confused all night long"@kurt13warner gives some props to the great defensive performance by the @49ers last night 🔥 pic.twitter.com/5k9C6LNP4Q
— NFL GameDay (@NFLGameDay) January 23, 2022
">NFL Network on Sunday morning. "He was showing different looks, there were different things that were happening... DeMeco Ryans and that 49ers defense did a great job after that first drive of making Aaron Rodgers think and then getting after him up front. That's exactly what they needed to win the game."
Rodgers managed Saturday's game fairly well, but he was never able to capitalize on the Packers opportunities. He ended the contest completing 20 of his 29 passes for 225 yards and no touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception, but took five sacks in the loss.
San Francisco's defense has been the calling card for head coach Kyle Shanahan all-year long and will need to be up to the task in the next round. The Niners will face another tough test against the winner of Sunday's game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After three consecutive wins over the Rams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, the 49ers are the hottest team in football. If the defense can deliver one more heroic performance, San Francisco could very well be playing for a Super Bowl in a few weeks time.